In the pasture
with the Langhe’s last sheep

The high pastures of the Langa del Sole are the perfect place to relive, even if just for a day, the solitary and wandering lives of shepherds. Go past the village of Bossolasco and you will be amazed by the sudden change in landscape: the ribbon of vineyards gives way to thick forests that are dotted with pastures that almost blind in their bareness. It is still possible to stumble across the last of the Langa Sheep that munch on the wild herbs and flowers of these pastures under the watchful eyes of their shepherds and canine sidekicks. The dogs becoming ever more useful with the return of the wolf to these hills. Ask them about their heroic lives, tales of silence and time punctuated only by the brays of sheep ready for milking and shearing. Let them share with you the important craft of turning this rich milk into the prized Murazzano Dop cheese, a staple of the Upper Langhe. Don’t forget to be regaled by tales of the villages and the Masche, “witch farmers” that curse them with malice and spite.

Accompany the shepherds to their modest mountain houses, isolated and sparse but surrounded my majestic silence. Visit the pens where the sheep sleep, where the shepherds let them out early each morning when the sun has barely touched the tops of the hills and the mist blows around in the mountain breeze. Try tuma and sheep’s milk ricotta. You will find yourself in a world frozen in a time past, pragmatic yet romantic, made of hard work and poetry

Complete the experience at the Museo Museo Etnografico della pecora e del formaggio in Paroldo. The museum was recently opened and houses a collection of equipment and “cultural objects” in respect to shepherding the Langa Sheep and the traditional production of cheese.

Langa Sheep,
a rare breed

In Piedmont there are about 80,000 sheep and another 73,000 goats. Amongst this sprightly population, less than three thousand are the Langa Sheep breed, the majority of which graze the hills of the Langa del Sole. It was not so long ago when this breed was widely found across the region, after World War II there were around 45,000, but many shifts in culture and climate have led to their reduction. They are bred in small flocks of around 20 to 50 sheep and are prized for their milk, which is still obtained by hand, to be made into Murazzano DOP cheese, the pride of all local shepherds.

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