A native sheep breed, known as Brianzola, used to be reared in the hills leading up to the Prealps in Lombardy. This area, historically called Brianza, is full of lakes and does not have extensive pastures. The Brianzola sheep would be put out to graze in marginal zones, on steep and often terraced land, and their grazing served an important purpose, holding back the otherwise uncontrolled advance of the broadleaf woods.
The Brianzola is one of several breeds of large Alpine sheep raised primarily for their meat. Tall and medium-large in size, the males can reach weights of up to 100 kilos while the females can be to 80 kilos. The head has a convex profile and neither rams nor ewes have horns. The hanging ears are thin while the fleece is white and unspotted, with the medium-fine wool becoming a short, shiny coat on the head (to behind the ears), belly, throat and limbs.
Originally found throughout the hilly part of Brianza, and particularly common around Lecco and Como, it was long known as the razza locale (“local breed”) or nostrana (“ours”). The name Brianzola dates back to the 1930s and appears for the first time in publications produced by the Province of Como’s itinerant agriculture teachers.
The breed was traditionally reared in the farmhouses then taken to graze in nearby hilly pastures, particularly those which were hard for cows to reach. They helped keep fields and meadows cropped and were appreciated for their thick, valuable wool, their fecundity, their maternal temperament and a good yield of meat.
Brianzola lamb is often used in the local cuisine, but the mutton is also eaten, after the sheep are slaughtered at the end of their useful life (at around 8 years old). The meat can be used in various ways, both in traditional recipes, like mutton stewed with rosemary and lamb stew with potatoes, and in creative dishes like mutton tartare.
Farmers shear the sheep twice a year, in spring and fall. Some of the wool is washed and carded locally for use in mattresses and cushions, while the rest is sent to factories in Biella for spinning.
Available all year round
The production protocol specifies that the animals are primarily raised on pasture and that their feed (when grazing is not possible) is based on forage and only a minimum of cereals. GMOs and silage are not allowed. The lambs consume only their mother’s milk and are not weaned before 45 days.
Hilly and mountainous areas in Lecco, Como and Monza Brianza provinces, Lombardy region
Presidium supported by
Slow Food Lecco, Slow Food Como, Slow Food Monza e Brianza, Parco Valle Lambro, Parco delle Groane
Località San Tomaso
Tel. +39 333 3579879
Maria Ida Anghileri
Strada del Ronco, 36
Tel. +39 338 6029804
Associazione della Pecora Brianzola
Via Pedro Vasena
Tel. +39 0341 240724
The association brings together 35 farmers, of whom the companies that directly market the meat are:
Frazione Borima, 18
Tel. +39 333 1937604
di Adelio Frigerio,Roberto e Fabrizio Tamai
Tel. +39 338 6071578
Cascina Bellesina, 1
Tel.+39 339 8186705
Via del Viandante, 28
Abbadia Lariana (Lc)
Tel. +39 339 1914903
Maria Maddalena Piloni
Capitano Muttoni, 1
Tel. +39 347 8390608
Via Valcavellino, 360
Tel. +39 339 5342069
Tel. 339 8186705
Slow Food Presidium coordinator
Tel. 351 5528009