The Mergozzo mountain pasture is located in the municipality of Avegno-Gordevio in Vallemaggia, Ticino (Switzerland). Located at an altitude of 1,400 meters, it welcomes over sixty goats every summer, owned by the Maddalena family. Inscriptions on “rustici” (typical granite houses) show that this mountain pasture was already occupied in the 17th century, a time when conditions must have been very harsh. More recently, several of these old stone huts have been carefully renovated in a spirit of heritage conservation and offer all modern comforts to shepherds who stay on the mountain pastures in summer.
The Maddalena make delicious cheeses there: tommes and camemberts, or tasty “buscíon” (fresh goat’s cheese corks), not to mention the succulent mascarpa (goat ricotta cooked over a wood fire. ). These are then sold either directly to the mountain pasture – to seasoned hikers who are not afraid of the 1000 meters of steep climb! – or in a more easily accessible self-service, located in the valley, in the village of Gordevio.
Life on the alp follows an unchanging rhythm. In the evening, the goats head for the mountains to feed, sometimes as far as Alp Pizzit at 1,713 meters. In the early morning, some descend on their own to the pastures for milking, but others remain lounging in the heights. The shepherds must then climb the peaks at dawn to look for them, taking advantage of bringing dead wood with them to make the fire. After milking, the cheese is made: the milk is heated over a wood fire before draining and molding. Goats produce milk over a period of about a hundred days. In the fall, they return on their own to the valley to the village of Gordevio for wintering.