ROBIOLA CHEESE, LOMBARDY REGION

Robiola is an Italian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family. It is from the Langhe region and made with varying proportions of cow’s, goat’s milk and sheep milk. One theory is that the cheese gets its name from the town of Robbio in the province of Pavia; another that the name comes from the word rubeole (ruddy) because of the color of the seasoned rind. Varieties of Robiola are produced across Piedmont from the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria and into Lombardy. It is one of the specialties of the Aosta Valley. The taste and appearance of Robiola varies depending upon where it was produced. Robiola di Roccaverano DOP / DOC has no rind and a slightly straw-yellow coloring with a sweet, yielding taste. Robiola Lombardia has a thin, milky-white to pink rind and tends to be shaped like small rolls. The cream-colored cheese underneath its bloomy rind has a smooth, full, tangy and mildly sour flavor, likely due to the high (52%) fat content. Its rind can be cut away, but is mild with no ammonia and adds a subtle crunch to the cheese. Robiola from the Piedmont region is a fresh cheese, and is usually eaten on its own, or with a little honey. The cheese has a long history that is sometimes traced back to the Celto- Ligurian farmers of the Alta Langa: the virtues of a cheese from Ceba (today Ceva) were extolled by the first-century Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, but any identification of that cheese with the Robiola of today must be speculative. However, in his Summa Lacticiniorum, the fifteenth-century dairy produce expert Pantaleone da Confienza did describe the manufacture, and praise the quality, of a cheese with this name. Robiola is generally served as a table cheese, either alone or with oil, salt and pepper. It must be stored properly after being purchased, and will keep fresh for up to one month. Its tangy taste is attributable to being infused with the wild herbs on which the animals pasture. Robiola can also be used in cooking including famous Piemonte dishes such as " risotto robiola" and "aglio robiola spaghetti" and other dishes. Special care should be exercised in properly storing the cheese (do not wrap in plastic, as the cheese can "choke" and spoil). Best stored refrigerated unwrapped in its crust, or wrapped in paper. Best used within a week of purchase.

VAL CAMONICA, LOMBARDY REGION

Val Camonica (also Valcamonica or Camonica Valley, in camunian dialect Al Camònega, poetic Camunia) is one of the largest valleys of the central Alps, located in eastern Lombardy, about 90 km long. It extends from Passo Tonale, at 1883 metres above sea level, to Corna Trentapassi, in the comune of Pisogne, near Lake Iseo. It has an area of about 1,335 km sq. Area of the municipalities, excluding Val di Scalve and 118,323 inhabitants. The Oglio River runs through the valleys full length, rising at Ponte di Legno and flowing into Lake Iseo between Pisogne and Costa Volpino. Almost all of the valley is included in the administrative territory of the province of Brescia, except for Lovere, Rogno, Costa Volpino and the Val di Scalve, which belong to the province of Bergamo.

Valle Camonica can be divided into three main areas:

  • Lower Val Camonica: a flat area of meadows and fields, which starts from the shores of Lake Iseo and reaches up to the transverse ridge of Bienno, sometimes referred to as the Breno Threshold;
  • Middle Val Camonica: this extends from the Breno Threshold to the municipality of Sonico - Edolo. The lower middle valley extends from Breno to Sellero, and the upper middle valley from the narrow gorge at Cedegolo to Sonico - Edolo;
  • High Val Camonica: This part of the valley follows the Periadriatic Seam, and is oriented from east to west. Starting in the Val di Corteno, it continues as far as the town of Ponte di Legno at its head. Its climate is similar to that of central Valtellina.

The Valle Camonica probably became habitable only around 15,000 years ago, at the end of last Ice Age, with the melting of the glacier that carved out the valley. It is likely that the first humans visited the valley in Epipaleolithic times, and appear to have settled by the Neolithic period. When the Ancient Romans extended their dominions north of the River Po, they encountered a people called the Camunnni, of unknown origin, populating the valley. Rock Drawings in Valcamonica About 300,000 petroglyphs survive from this period. By the end of the first century BC, the Valle Camonica was ruled by Ancient Rome, which established the city of Cividate Camuno, with baths, an amphitheater and a large temple dedicated to Minerva. During the Middle Ages, numerous clashes between the Guelphs and Ghibellines took place in this region. The Guelphs supported the power of the Bishop of Brescia and the papacy, while the Ghibellines sided with the Holy Roman Emperor. In 1287 the Camonica Valley rebelled against control by Brescia and sided with the Visconti, lords of Milan, who extended their control over the area during the 14th century. From 1427 to 1454 there were numerous battles between the Republic of Venice and Milan for the control of the valley. Ultimately the Valley came under the control of the Venice. During the following centuries, the civilian population grew and engaged in the iron trade.

LOMBARDY REGION, ITALY

Lombardy is a historic region of Italy and one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is of the region is the city of Milan. A sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about a fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in the region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country. It is also the region with the most Unesco World Heritage Sites in Italy. Lombardy originally referred to the entire territory of Italy (known as Longobardia Major and Langobardia Minor) ruled by the Lombards, a Germanic tribe who conquered much of the Italian peninsula beginning in the 6th century.

PROVINCES OF THE LOMBARDY REGION

Bergamo Province, Brescia Province, Como Province, Cremona Province, Lecco Province, Lodi Province, Mantua Province, Milan Province (regional capital), Pavia Province, Sondrio Province, and Varese Province

lombardia-region-map

GEOGRAPHY OF THE LOMBARDY PROFILE

Lombardy is bordered by Switzerland (north: Canton Ticino and Canton Graubünden) and by the Italian regions of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto (east), Emilia-Romagna (south), and Piedmont (west). Three distinct natural zones can be fairly easily distinguished in the Lombardy region: mountains, hills and plains – the latter being divided in Alta (high plains) and Bassa (low plains). The most important mountainous area is an Alpine zone including the Lepontine and Rhaetian Alps, (Piz Bernina – La Spedla, 4,020 m), the Bergamo Alps, the Ortler Alps and the Adamello massif; it is followed by an Alpine foothills zone Prealpi, which include the main peaks are the Grigna Group (2,410 m), Resegone (1,875 m) and Presolana (2,521 m). The great Lombard lakes, all of glacial origin, lie in this zone. From west to east these are Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano (both shared with Switzerland), Lake Como, Lake Iseo, Lake Idro, then Lake Garda, the largest in Italy. South of the Alps lie the hills characterized by a succession of low heights of morainic origin, formed during the last Ice Age and small barely fertile plateaux, with typical heaths and conifer woods. A minor mountainous area lies south of the Po, in the Apennines range.

The plains of Lombardy, formed from alluvial deposits, can be divided into the Alta – an upper, permeable ground zone in the north and a lower zone characterized – the Bassa – by the so-called line of fontanili (the spring waters rising on impermeable ground). Anomalous compared with the three distinctions already made is the small region of the Oltrepò Pavese, formed by the Apennine foothills beyond the Po River. A large number of rivers, all direct or indirect tributaries of the Po, cross the plains of Lombardy. Major rivers, flowing NW to SE, are the Ticino, the outlet of Lake Maggiore, the Olona, the Lambro, the Adda, outlet of Lake Como, the Mincio, outlet of Lake Garda, and the Oglio, the Lake Iseo outflow. There is a wide network of canals for irrigation purposes. In the plains, intensively cultivated for centuries, little of the original environment remains. The rare elm, alder, sycamore, poplar, willow and hornbeam woods and heaths are covered now by several protected areas. In the area of the great Alpine foothills lakes, however, grow olive trees, cypresses and larches, as well as varieties of subtropical flora such as magnolias, azaleas, acacias, etc. The mountains area is characterized by the typical vegetation of the whole range of the Italian Alps. At a lower levels (up to approximately 1,100 m) oak woods or broad leafed trees grow; on the mountain slopes (up to 2,000–2,200 m) beech trees grow at the lowest limits, with conifer woods higher up. Shrubs such as rhododendron, dwarf pine and juniper are native to the summital zone (beyond 2,200 m). Lombardy counts many protected areas: the most important are the Stelvio National Park (the largest Italian natural park), with typically alpine wildlife: red deer, roe deer, ibex, chamois, foxes, ermine and also golden eagles; and the Ticino Valley Natural Park, instituted in 1974 on the Lombard side of the Ticino River to protect and conserve one of the last major examples of fluvial forest in Northern Italy.

lombardia-profile

OUTDOOR RECREATION IN THE REGION OF LOMBARDY

 

TOWNS OF THE LOMBARDY REGION

Milan – Lombardy’s capital, home of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” La Scala opera house, & one of the country’s most iconic cathedrals
Bergamo – Beautiful historic walled city, split into “high” and “low” cities
Brescia – Wealthy industrial city with a few good museums
Monza – Wealthy suburb of Milan with a world-famous car racing track, as well as a nice cathedral, royal villa, and huge public park
Pavia – Small city with a large university, a pretty historic center, a few pretty churches, and some notable museums
Mantua – Mantova in Italian, small city with historic ties to opera as well as art, as showcased in the many churches, palazzi, and museums
Cremona – Historic home of the two most famous violin-making families on earth, Stradivari and Guarini
Italian Lakes – Some of Italy’s most famous landscapes, including Lago Maggiore, Lago di Garda, and Lago di Como

 

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