Brigasca Sheep

Slow Food Presidium

Italy

Liguria

Milk and milk products

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Brigasca Sheep

The name Brigasca comes from La Brigue, a French village in the Val Roya known in centuries past for being the most important centre for sheep farming in this area where Liguria, Piedmont and Provence. Over time La Brigue has been French, Italian, then French again, but the local people have always spoken Brigasc, a dialect understood on each side of the border and a descendant of the ancient Occitan language.
The native Brigasca sheep breed probably originated from the same lineage as the Frabosana: the convex profile and, in the males, the spiral horns curving backwards, are similar, with only the body a little less stout. The hardy animal has muscular limbs and strong, dark hooves suited to grazing on rough terrain. The traditional farming method involves a period of seven to eight months in mountain pastures and around four months in coastal areas where the mild climate makes it possible for the sheep to graze outdoors through the winter as well. Techniques and tools linked to the centuries-old tradition of transhumance (the seasonal livestock migration) are used to turn the sheep’s milk into toma (a rectangular cheese also known as sora), ricotta and brus.
The toma is made by adding rennet to milk from the evening milking mixed with the morning’s milk. After curdling, the curd is broken with a rubatà, a traditional wooden stick, and left to settle. The curds are then collected in a rough cloth (raireura) and wrapped in a bundle, on which a large stone is placed. After around 12 hours, the mass is removed from the cloth and cut into symmetrical pieces, which will become the tomas. The cheeses are dry-salted with sea salt and left to age in a cool place on wooden boards for at least 60 days. The whey left over from cheesemaking is brought to a temperature close to boiling for the production of ricotta. When left to ferment for at least 10 days, it becomes brus.
Sheep were a primary source of income for the small local communities and the archives record disputes over the ownership of the best pastures. The definition of political and administrative borders in 1947 made the movement of animals more difficult, causing the number of animals to start to decline. The impoverishment of the livestock population had very negative effects not just on the economy of these mountain areas but also the landscape.

Season

Dairy products are available year round

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La brigasque est une brebis rustique et solide, issue probablement de la même souche que la « frabosana » ; elle est un peu moins robuste, mais le profil convexe caractéristique du museau et les cornes recourbées vers l’arrière, en spirale chez le mâle, sont identiques. Le nom vient de la Brigue, un village français de la vallée de La Roya, connu par le passé pour être le plus important centre d’élevage ovin de la région frontalière entre Ligurie, Piémont et Provence. Dans toute la région, la brebis était une source de revenu essentielle ; puis, le tracé des frontières politiques et administratives de 1947 rendit plus difficile le déplacement du bétail, provoquant la régression des troupeaux. Aujourd’hui, on compte 1800 têtes en Ligurie et 800 dans la vallée de La Roya. La brigasque est élevée sept ou huit mois en alpage et quatre ou cinq mois dans la « bandia », la zone côtière, où le pâturage en plein air est possible même en hiver. Trois fromages sont obtenus avec son lait : la « sora », la « toma » et le « brus ». La « sora » est produite avec du lait de brebis cru provenant de deux traites. Le caillé est rompu à l’aide du classique « spino » de bois, recueilli dans une toile grossière (raireura) avec laquelle on forme une sorte de balluchon sur lequel on pose une grosse pierre. Au bout de douze heures la masse est sortie de la toile et découpée en morceaux réguliers. Après une maturation de deux semaines, les fromages sont lavés, séchés et mis à affiner dans un endroit frais pour au moins deux mois.
La « toma » se différencie de la « sora » par un ajout de lait de chèvre, l’utilisation de faisselles pour le façonnage et une maturation plus courte. La Sentinelle, soutenue par la Région Ligure, veut valoriser les tommes au lait cru produites sur les quelques alpages restant sur la ligne de partage des eaux qui marque la frontière avec la France, et soutenir le rôle déterminant des bergers dans la protection et la sauvegarde du milieu naturel. Elle travaille, en outre, en collaboration avec quelques techniciens, à la réalisation d’une unité de caséification en alpage qui permette ainsi aux producteurs de travailler le lait immédiatement après la traite sans avoir à le transporter réfrigéré dans la vallée.
At the start of the 20th century there were 60,000 Brigasca sheep being reared across this area where Liguria, Piedmont and Provence meet. But now little remains of the ancient flocks. In Liguria around 1,800 animals are still being grazed, particularly along the border, and 800 can be found in the French Val Roya.
The Presidium wants to promote the Brigasca sheep still being reared in the few mountain pastures remaining along the border with France and to support the crucial role herders play in protecting and safeguarding the natural environment.
The few remaining producers work hard, moving their flocks from pasture to pasture, often in difficult conditions, but they have a great passion for their work. The Presidium wants to help them to improve these conditions.

Production area
Area where Liguria and Piedmont meet France: Imperia province and some municipalities in Savona and Cuneo provinces

Nevio Balbis
Sanremo (Im)
via Montà Di Lanza, 80
tel. +39 333 3302604

Il Boschetto di Aldo Lo Manto
Albenga (Sv)
regione Boschetto
frazione Bastia
tel. +39 0182 20687-339 4167938
ilformaggiodelboschetto@email.it

Agriturismo Il Castagno
Mendatica (Im)
via San Bernardo, 39
tel. +39 0183 328718-349 2961932
il.castagno@libero.it
Alpeggia presso la malga Cian Prai a Mendatica (Im).
Producers’ Presidium Coordinator
Maurizio Bazzano
Tel. +39 333 1035799
mauri60@quipo.it

Slow Food Coordinator
Daniela Di Forti
Tel. 333 3144124
peterdani@libero.it
At the start of the 20th century there were 60,000 Brigasca sheep being reared across this area where Liguria, Piedmont and Provence meet. But now little remains of the ancient flocks. In Liguria around 1,800 animals are still being grazed, particularly along the border, and 800 can be found in the French Val Roya.
The Presidium wants to promote the Brigasca sheep still being reared in the few mountain pastures remaining along the border with France and to support the crucial role herders play in protecting and safeguarding the natural environment.
The few remaining producers work hard, moving their flocks from pasture to pasture, often in difficult conditions, but they have a great passion for their work. The Presidium wants to help them to improve these conditions.

Production area
Area where Liguria and Piedmont meet France: Imperia province and some municipalities in Savona and Cuneo provinces

Nevio Balbis
Sanremo (Im)
via Montà Di Lanza, 80
tel. +39 333 3302604

Il Boschetto di Aldo Lo Manto
Albenga (Sv)
regione Boschetto
frazione Bastia
tel. +39 0182 20687-339 4167938
ilformaggiodelboschetto@email.it

Agriturismo Il Castagno
Mendatica (Im)
via San Bernardo, 39
tel. +39 0183 328718-349 2961932
il.castagno@libero.it
Alpeggia presso la malga Cian Prai a Mendatica (Im).
Producers’ Presidium Coordinator
Maurizio Bazzano
Tel. +39 333 1035799
mauri60@quipo.it

Slow Food Coordinator
Daniela Di Forti
Tel. 333 3144124
peterdani@libero.it

Territory

StateItaly
RegionLiguria

Other info

CategoriesMilk and milk products