Switzerland is often seen by foreign tourists as the home of cheese due to the fact that the Swiss landscape has a wealth of mountains and alpine pastures. It is in these very places, surrounded by lush vegetation and far from the hustle and bustle of modern life, where a product comes into being which in 2002 was awarded DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status, and which is still produced, in an almost ancestral way, fully respecting the cycles of the seasons, the territory and the animals. Many alpine pastures lie outside the Lugano region, in areas closer to the main mountain chains, but top-notch cheese is produced in our area too. Examples include cheeses from Monte Lema, Alpe Davrosio, Alpe Bolla, Alpe Rompiago, Alpe Zalto and Santa Maria di Lago.
This testifies to the fact that cheese represents an inherent aspect of the region’s identity. In fact, the first documented traces of alpine cheese-making date back as far as the 12th century and can be found in the Dictionary of Dialects from Italian Speaking Switzerland. Initially cheese-making was primarily for families or for local consumption until it later became integral to the economy. What’s referred to as the “alpine economy” took on particular importance in this region and become a source of livelihood for local people who sold their products both in Ticino and abroad, with evidence of local cheeses being sold as far afield as Genoa. Factors explaining this success include the particular intrinsic characteristics of the local territory and the cheeses themselves, which were typically hard or semihard. As they had already been aged, they could be transported all over the world.
Cheeses are obviously also produced throughout the rest of Switzerland but what sets Ticino’s alpine varieties apart are certain well-defined characteristics such as the type of milk used to produce it (in Ticino only whole milk and not skimmed milk is used), and the typical brown-grey colour of the rind. To conclude, alpine cheese is emblematic of our origins and provides our visitors with insight into our heritage.
Have a Cheesy Stay in the region of Lugano!