The origin of Raschera cheese

The Comunità Montana of the Monregalesi Valleys has, included in its territory, one of the vastest grazing areas in the province of Cuneo. In this tract of the Maritime Alps, which are at the end of the chain, the summits are of modest height and the undulation of the land softer: mountain grazing can therefore reach major heights.

These areas are still greatly used in the summer months by heards of cattle, whilst sheep heards graze on poorer, higher lands.As far as man can remember, on these Monregalese Alps, a particular cheese has been produced. It is named after a lake and grazing area on the slopes of Mt. Mongioie (m.2,630): RASCHERA.

The “Alpe Raschera” covers an area of approximately 620 hectares and is situated in the so called “administrative island” of the commune of Magliano Alpi.

Local tradition has given Raschera its round and/or square shape. The latter came about over the years due to transport problems from the “selle” ( rooms dug directly into the earth which are used as natural maturing cells in which the humidity and temperature are constant and create an enviroment which is perfect for the maturing of the cheese and the formation of the crust which assumes a caracteristic reddish colour due to the kind of mould created), a mule being the only means of transport, the square shapes proved to be more stable and easier to pile on the back of the four legged animal.

The tradition of making this typical mountain cheese in the whole of the Monregalese, has given the habit, especially in rural areas, of calling a cheese that comes from the mountains around Mondovì “una raschera” whilst a mountain cheese from another valley is called a “tuma di montagna”.

The first traces of Raschera appear in a rental contract from the end of 1.400 found in the archives of the commune of Pamparato, in which the local squire requests that the shepheards pay him with forms of “the good cheese they make up there”.

In the begining of the 70’s the production of this artiginal jewel was in serious danger due to marketing problems and the diminished young work force which affected the mountain areas due to the industrialisation in Italy at the time. Thanks to the iniciative of a few people from Frabosa Soprana (heart of the summer production of Raschera), who have always been passionate about local traditions and the genuine produce and culture of the mountain farmers, this didn’t happen. Not only did they save the future of the cheese but they also inverted the tendency of the market and the Raschera d’Alpeggio had a distinct rise in production.

They constituted the “Confraternita della Raschera e del Brus” (another typical local product), where the “knights” had and still have the duty of “sustaining, publicizing and getting people to know” the production, sales and consumption “La Raschera” ( following the mountain tradition, the feminine article is used when refering to Raschera also in Italian). This was the first step of a big political and technical movement to ensure that this cheese didn’t die out. At the begining of the 80’s the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Artisans and Agriculture of Cuneo and the “Comunità Montana delle Valli Monregalesi”, presented a project and all the necessary documents to the ministry of Agriculture and Forests to obtain the DO (Denomination of Origin) for Raschera cheese.