Biella, a small province in northern Piedmont, offers an outstanding variety of landscapes, from the morain known as the Serra d’Ivrea in the east, through the Elvo, Oropa, Cervo and Strona valleys, to the wild Sessera Valley in the east.
In the Biella Mountains, in the space of a weekend, it’s possible to explore an ancient Roman gold mine, stay in a converted monastery-cum-Alpine hut, visit an old wool mill on the bank of a raging torrent, and savor the unique gastronomic traditions of the villages scattered throughout the mountain valleys.
One of the most characteristic food products of the area is Upper Elvo Raw Milk Butter (a Slow Food Presidium) made with the cream that rises to the top of raw milk cooled in fraidél, small stone structures fed with icy spring water. Today only three Alpine dairies still use this method.
The milk left over after butter production is used to make low-fat toma (tùma), a cheese with intense aromas of Alpine flora and a characteristically elastic texture. Finally, the whey is used to make mutrìt (an Ark of Taste product), a small ball of ricotta flavored with herbs and chili and smoked, and used for grating over soups or salads.
It would be impossible to talk about butter and cheese without mentioning the queen of these valleys, the pezzata rossa d’Oropa (also in the Ark of Taste), a hardy local cattle breed well suited to transhumance and grazing in the highest, steepest mountain pastures. The meat of this breed is used to produce excellent cured meats and stews serves with polenta made with stone-ground cornmeal from the local mills.
Also worthy of mention are the chestnuts that are dried on planks positioned over wood fires in traditional stone huts called graa. Until a century ago, chestnuts were considered the bread of the mountain dwellers but today only a few farms tend the chestnut groves and process the nuts.
Following the itineraries recommended by Slow Food Travel, visitors will find out more about the history of these food products, tour the landscapes of which they are an integral part, and participate in taste workshops organized on the producers’ premises.
Slow Food Travel Biella Mountains works to contribute to the growth of a tourism model in which visitors discover the foods, people, and landmarks of the Biella countryside.
Slow Food Travel Biella Mountains involves local producers and hospitality facilities that collaborate with the cultural sites of the Biella Museum Network.
How can I organize my trip?
1 Go it alone!
Consult the description of the sites and organizations involved, study the map, and get in direct contact with the places that interest you so that you can build your trip with them! Remember that every Sunday between June 2 and October 13, from 2:30-6:30 p.m., the sites in Biella’s Museum Network (see map) are open and guides are available for giving tours.
You can be accompanied and travel on foot, by bike, on horseback, or even with donkeys from site to site along the Slow Food Travel Biella Mountains itinerary.
We are working with a group of associations to define the routes; shortly you will find proposals and contacts in this section, so stay tuned!
3 Choose a tour operator
If you are traveling in a group of at least 8 people and prefer to have a tour operator organize your trip, Viaggi e Miraggi offers various packages and can also help you design a tailor-made itinerary. For contacts and to view the existing proposals, visit https://www.viaggiemiraggi.org/speciali/viaggi-con-slow-food/.
Have a great trip!