Mountain walks and mountain pasture cheeses: one eye on health and one on gluttony!

The summer season is just around the corner! For the past few weeks we have been able to enjoy the first warm weather and the chirps of the noisy, feathered wayfarers.
The blooms are lush this year, and spending free time outdoors is a true act of love for ourselves. The soft purple of wisteria, the bitterness of dandelion, the scent of bear garlic, and the locust tree invade cities and hills, creeping up to the mountain slopes.

Now that the weather is more welcoming, it is definitely a good idea to spend more time in nature and in the highlands, where the air is cleaner. Today we talk about mountains and hiking, but also about…sins of gluttony!

The union of taste and well-being in short: a few hours of walking on mountain trails and a clear, sharp goal in mind. Shelter. Award. The eating we “deserved.” And it matters little if we then overdo it, because these are a sacred celebration in the company of the people we love. And a feast of savory and hearty mountain specialties is not complete if it does not also include a taste of alpine, or mountain pasture, cheeses. Here, today we are going to talk about them too!

Walking in the mountains: how and why

In the post-lockdown period explorations and wilderness walks have become indispensable passions for many. On closer inspection, this is a beautiful novelty, but let us remember to have common sense in choosing the most suitable routes for us, even in the mountains.

The benefits of being in nature

Walking in the mountains benefits the body, especially if it is done consistently! In general, devoting 20 to 30 minutes to walking two to three times a week is good for you. You can carve out a moment early in the morning or once you get off work, even to tidy up your thoughts. The mountains amplify these positive effects, but they require more time, so the weekend is the ideal time to wake up early and go in search of some unspoiled places.

Walking in the mountains also benefits because of the quality of the air we breathe.
Immersed in nature, then, the beauty of the landscape is also good for our mind, which relaxes as we break our breath and pick up the pace. Stress decreases, tensions are relieved, and we feel lighter. A small interlude of serenity, in short.

Any insights? Here are other benefits of walking in the mountains:

  • It firms and tones the muscles: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders and upper back, if trekking poles are also used;
  • Listen(ti): walking in the mountains allows us to feel our bodies, regulate our breathing and heartbeats. But it also makes us sense our surroundings: every noise or scent is amplified and is a small discovery at every step;
  • Help for the heart: regular walking helps prevent some cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. With good training, then, fatigue on climbs will be felt less and less;
  • Weight control: regularity helps keep one’s body weight under control, as well as making us feel better in general.

Some basic tips

  • Whatever the terrain, pay attention toclothing and shoes. They must be appropriate for the walk you are lending yourself to, so it is very important to know in advance the destination and the route you will be taking
  • Never go alone and do not try to improvise shortcuts
  • Always have a backpack with enough water and food with you to face the journey
  • Nature must be protected: never contaminate the environment by leaving trash around!

The advice for those approaching the mountains for the first time is to start gradually, so as to let the body get used to the fatigue of ascents and descents.

Okay, but where do I go?

One of the doubts one may encounter when approaching the mountains is: but I don’t even know where to start. I don’t know trails, or I’m not trained! How can I orient myself? Where do I take my cues from? To the regulars I say, “Stop! Don’t run away!” What I leave you with below are insights for both newcomers and frequent mountain goers:

There are plenty of sites on the web that provide maps, trails, trail sheets, and requirements for walking them!

I leave you with a micro selection, with the recommendation that you then look more specifically for sites that deal with the regional area in which you live.

  • Want to be inspired byitineraries broken down by region or read some travel testimonials? At https://camminidit alia.org/ you will find these sections and also the blog, where there are suggestions of itineraries to do in company
  • At https://www.globalt erramaps.com/it/index.html you will find a collection of over 8500 hiking routes throughout Italy from the most authoritative sources available in the field…National Parks, Natural Parks, various CAI (Italian Alpine Club) offices, APT (Agency For Tourism), hiking associations, etc.
  • Do you have Google Maps? I guess so. However, you may have missed one of its new functions, implemented in July 2020, with which trails and routes can be found, entered, or followed! The project was created in collaboration with Legambiente, which selected numerous routes mapped by volunteers during the past few years. Try looking at the Google my maps site and explore the paths that have been posted there;
  • Do you want to build your own itinerary? At https://www.outdooract ive.com/it/ you can select the starting point, ending point, and intermediate stops you plan to make! Outdooractive will provide you with the best route as a result by marking elevation differences, types of roads you will travel, and time required to cover the distances.

Alpine cheeses

What is alpine cheese?

Alpine – or alpine – cheeses are cheeses made using milk from cows raised in mountain pastures. Here the animals graze in the open air, developing their muscles and enjoying excellent health. Originally, these cheeses were produced only in mountain pastures, but today it is possible to produce them on the plains after transporting milk to dairies.

What does “mountain pasture” mean? Mountain huts, also called alpine pastures, are dwellings with stables that are located on mountains. In the period from June to September , cows and animals are brought here to graze.

The welfare enjoyed by the cows during their stay in the alpine pastures gives rise to excellent milk, from which exceptional and world-renowned cheeses are made. Alpine pasture plays an important role in protecting the landscape andenvironment. It is the centerpiece of rurality at high altitudes, essential for preserving pastures from the advance of the forest.

Talking about nutritional properties of alpine cheeses is very complicated. There are many types and each has its own specific characteristics that vary greatly. Let’s look at some examples.

Examples of mountain pasture cheeses

Lombardy, Veneto and Friuli: Asiago, Montasio, Bitto and Casera. They have hints of fermented vegetables and are described as bitter.

Aosta Valley Alps: Fontina and Gruyere. Here, however, the hint of bitterness is not present.

Seasonality of alpine cheeses

Strange to talk about seasonal cheeses, isn’t it? Yet it makes sense! Let’s look at it briefly.

Typically, mountain pasture cheeses are made in the summer. At this time of year, animals have access to verdant pastures where they freely feed on a wide variety of plants. This imparts distinctive flavors and aromas to the cheeses that are made!

But in winter they don’t produce at all? No, production also takes place in winter. During this period the cows mostly stay in the barn and are fed with fodder. Therefore, the characteristics of the final product are different.

Without exaggeration!

Alpine cheeses have an interesting protein and mineral content. Calcium helps us maintain healthy bones, for example. Many cheeses also contain vitamins, such as Asiago, which has a good content of vitamins E and A.

Despite this, we always remember that alpine cheeses are a source of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and should therefore be consumed in moderation.

Sources:
(Humanitas)

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