If you are a fan of Italy, you probably know le Langhe, a true Italian countryside gem.
Le Langhe – or Langa – is a hilly area in the south of Piedmont, in the province of Cuneo. The area is mostly known for its amazing wines – Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera mostly – and for its cheeses and truffles as well. Once a very poor countryside area, le Langhe has now become one of the richest areas in the country, thanks to the winemaking tradition and the hard work of its inhabitants.
A part of the area has also been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List for its cultural landscape, as the UNESCO goes: “An exceptional living testimony to the historical tradition of grape growing and winemaking processes, of a social context, and a rural economy based on the culture of wine”.
That area is a truly wonderful place, but there’s another Langa I want to tell you about.
It’s the Alta Langa, the southernmost stretch of the province of Cuneo, on the border to Liguria. Alta Langa is one of my favorite places in Italy because it is genuine, wild and unspoiled. While the more famous Langa del Barolo sees the intervention of man in almost every corner, here it’s still nature that plays the most important part.
There are a lot of farming activities there, tough, but they are perfectly integrated with the scenery and don’t spoil or ruin it. Alta Langa is known for hazelnuts – torta di nocciole, a cake made with hazelnuts, is a delicacy of the area – for some cheeses, like la toma di Murazzano, for wines and other products.
However, the reason why I like this area so much is that it offers breathtaking countryside views, scenic drives through the fields and into the woods, lots of trails and a lot of silence. The area is off-the-beaten tourist tracks and you can enjoy it in its pure authenticity. There are a lot of little villages worth visiting, like Prunetto, Murazzano, Mombarcaro, Bossolasco, Bergolo, Paroldo, Sale San Giovanni, and many more. There you’ll find old castles, cozy, quiet squares, and silence, did I say silence?
In the past, lots of people left these villages to seek fortune in the city, but now there’s some kind of comeback. Many young guys have decided to leave everything behind and start a new and simpler life here, setting up farms, little restaurants or B&Bs. This is the story of Arianna and Alessandro, who are the owners of I Pascoli di Amaltea, the place I want to tell you about today.
I met Arianna years ago at a breadmaking course and immediately fell in love with her story. She was working for Slow Food Italia, an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking, when she met Alessandro, who was starting its own farmhouse in Mombarcaro, right in the heart of Alta Langa: she and joined him in this adventure.
I Pascoli di Amaltea is an organic farm, where Arianna and Alessandro raise sheep – the old pecora di Langa breed specifically – and goats to make cheese. They strongly believe in sustainable agriculture and respect the natural breeding cycle of their animals, milking them only from spring to autumn and refusing to use hormones. Then they produce raw-milk cheeses, both fresh and aged ones.
I have been meaning to visit the farm for ages and I finally managed to do so a few Sundays ago. I liked the place so much that I couldn’t help but share it here. One of the things I immediately liked when I got there is the idyllic location of the farm: in the middle of the woods, with a nice view of the surrounding fields, right in the heart of nature.
When we arrived, the sheep and goats were just coming back from their grazing out in the fields (they used to stay out all night but now they have to keep them in a safe place because there is a pack of wolves in the area), while the younger goats were happily lounging in the shed. We also got to meet the dogs and a super cute cat – some kind of heaven for an animal lover like I am!
Arianna took the time to show us the place and tell us everything about their work (spoiler: it’s incredibly hard!). We visited the dairy with her and learned a lot about cheese making and all the efforts it takes to make good products in a truly sustainable way.
Besides the amazing location, the cute animals and the tasty cheeses (I bought all of them, obviously!), what I really loved about I Pascoli di Amaltea is the enthusiasm and passion – and incredibly hard work – Arianna and Alessandro pour into their work. When you eat their cheeses, you don’t just enjoy their great taste but also the fact that they are made with great love (and respect for the animals, which is something I really treasure).
If you want to spend some time there, they also offer farmhouse holidays: you can stay in one of their two lovely rooms and enjoy some precious time in the middle of nature. Moreover, you can also enjoy a glorious homemade breakfast, where you can obviously taste their cheeses.
Needless to say, as it happens every time I share with you a local business I appreciate – like I did last year with the Art B&B La Creûza in Verezzi – this post is absolutely not sponsored but comes out of pure love and admiration. When I see a business so sincere and full of passion, I want to share it with you because I know you’ll love it as well.
So, I thank Arianna and Alessandro for opening the doors of their farm and letting me show this magic place to you guys!
All photos are courtesy of I Pascoli di Amaltea’s Instagram account.