Toma del Mottarone

Toma del Mottarone: amongst the best cheese of the mountain pasture

Toma del Mottarone

The Pearl of Mottarone: Toma del Mottarone

Toma del Mottarone is a cheese realized with cow’s milk. This cheese comes from Mottarone, and it is considered one of the best cheese of Piedmontese mountain pasture.

Mottarone is where a delicious cheese is produced: Toma. This latter’s organoleptic and visual characteristics make it an important dairy product. In Piedmont, Toma del Mottarone is one of the best mountain pastures. 

What are the peculiarities of Toma del Mottarone and the techniques to produce it? 

What are its characteristics?

Toma distinguishes itself as it is a dairy product coming from untreated cow’s milk. Comes from the homonymous Piedmontese area, namely Mottarone. The texture of this cheese is morbida occhiata: the duration of the aging is between two or three months. 

One of the main characteristics is its color, namely pale yellow. Cow’s milk is indeed very rich in beta-carotene or Vitamin A: for this reason, toma’s color is pale yellow. One block of cheese weighs 4 kg. Based on the production techniques and area, Toma del Mottarone will have a stronger or softer taste, even though its taste is generally very balanced

What are the techniques to produce? 

Producers of Toma del Mottarone use a traditional method for preparing it. This latter dates back to the Middle Ages, and it is strongly related to the alpine pasture. 

This kind of cheese relies on some milk that does not go through pasteurization and sterilization processes. After curdling the milk at a temperature of 36 degrees celsius, producers get a curdle which they make rest. After this, they heat the curdle up to a temperature of 42 degrees celsius and put it into brine for one day. 

After this procedure, aging starts. After two or three months, you can buy Toma del Mottarone in Cooperatives or in the Saturday’s city market of Armeno and the Tuesday-morning’s one in Gignese. This cheese is ideal with Cognà, gelatine di Moscato e Dolcetto and Truffle honey.


Tapulone: the recipe of Borgomanero.


Tapulone di Borgomanero – The Tapulone of Borgomanero

Tapulone is an ancient dish in the tradition of Northern Piedmont. People serve Tapulone after having cooked it for 30 minutes. 

The name « Tapulone » is curious and evocative: it apparently originates from mythology. In reality, the name originates from the Piedmontese verb ciapulè, which means “chopping.” To cook Tapulone, people chopped donkey meat finely and mixed it with rosemary, cloves, salt, and local red wine. 

The Origin

Popular traditions are a jumble of interesting stories and narratives. Tapulone has its own story, too. 

The legend says that 13 starving pilgrims were on their way back from Orta San Giulio. While approaching Borgomanero, they realized they were worn-out. For this reason, they started looking for some food, as they had finished all their supplies, but they could not find any. As a consequence, they had to kill one of the donkeys that were with them in their pilgrimage and try to cook it. To attenuate the toughness of the donkey meat, they chopped it finely and cook it in wine. 

Pilgrims loved donkey meat cooked that way, and they thought it was a blessing. Therefore, they decided to stop and settle down exactly where they eat Tapulone the first time. 

In this way, they founded Borgomanero. Like every popular recipe, Tapulone teaches people how to cook simple ingredients.

The Classic Recipe

Borgomanero’s recipe for Tapulone is a very simple one and takes about 30 minutes.

You start by preparing a sofrito. You do so by putting either oil EVO or butter in a pan and make them fry together with minced onions and garlic. In the case of Tapulone, you also add bay leaves and rosemary. 

Once this mixture starts to fry – make sure that onion and everything does not get too gold – you add minced meat. Once you have added minced meat, you add battuto di lardo – in case you do not find lardo in your country, bacon works as well – savoy cabbage and aromatic herbs, making sure the heat is low. 

Once you have gathered all the ingredients together, you add abundant red wine, which should be a local one. 

Today, we cannot exactly reproduce the original recipe, as the meat and the way animals are bred is different, and wine, which used to be full of tannin, nowadays lacks tannin. 

Today, some variants of the original recipe, replace meat with beef or horse, and people sometimes add mushrooms and parsley. However, Tapulone is always a good, tasty and characteristic recipe.

Mortadella di fegato

Mortadella di fegato, the characteristic of the product

Mortadella di fegato

Mortadella di fegato: history and characteristics

The mortadella di fegato is a kind of salami typical of the Val d’Ossola and the Pavia, Mantova, and Como district. The history of this salami vaunts a very traditional production method.

The mortadella di fegato (also known as Fidighina) is a product typical of Val d’Ossola and the province of Pavia, Mantova, and Como. The salami is prepared with mixed swine meats. People can enjoy it both raw and boiled, and they can choose between different receipts. The Mortadella della Val d’Ossola is a product under the Slow Food Presidium

But what are the production methods for this salami? And what is its history?

The history of the Fidighina 

We have known of the existence of Fidighina in the Italian territory since the Seventeenth Century, as some historical documents testify. At the same time, some testimonies related to the Mortadella Stagionata have appeared also in the Ticino area as well, as an legal practice on some tools pertaining to the Salsamenteria, among which they found a “mortadella buona e ben stagionata” (that was good and finely aged). 

People did not only try  Mortadella della Val d’Ossola when finely aged, but also when fresh. On a eighteenth-century advertisement, moreover, Salumieri  the producers of Salami – started to boil the Fideghina. Not only Salumieri prepared the Fideghina, but also families whenever the time to kill porks came. 

The name does not have to be misleading. Mortadella is indeed a term which describes a product that is different from salami. However, this Mortadella is exactly a salami. This depends on the fact that the term Mortadella derives from the noun “mortar;”this term indicates that salumieri used this tool to chop and crush the meat. 

Salumieri producing Fidighina did not follow this procedure, but these products maintained the name of “Mortadella” rather than “Salami”. The territory of Val d’Ossola, which is an area in-between Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland, possessed and still possesses an ancient tradition of pork-butchery. Butchers breeded pigs in a natural state, and they gaze them around the alpine pasture, with a nose ring. 

How do butchers produce it?

Butchers in the Ossola area produce the Mortadella Ossolana or Di Fegato in minimum quantities. The receipt is a mix of raw swines, to which butchers add a maximum of 5% of liver and, in few occasion, some tiepid wine flavored with spices. Butcher put this mixture into the a cleaned part of the pig intestine and make the sausage age for about two months.  

The final product has a strong taste: you would love to eat it sliced together with Coimo’s Black Bread.  

When the Mortadella di Fegato is fresh, you can either boil it and serve it with potatoes, or baked with Polenta. 

If you decide to visit the production area and get a taste of Mortadella di Fegato, you can eat it together with Prunent, a local wine that is homonymous with the local vineyards that produce it. 

Photo by sabino1979 on Flickr

Francoli Grappa

La grappa novarese

Francoli Grappa

At the Relais et Chateaux Villa Crespi, we can organize private visits for small groups to Casa Francoli in Ghemme. Our guests will have the chance of getting to know all about the Distillery which produces prestigious grappas as well as their winery, Torraccia del Piantavigna.

Grappa, a priceless nectar and fruit of precious vines wherein the Novara area is rich and bounteous.

A tradition originating from more than 100 years ago, when the passion for the land, contemplation of the vines and careful attention paid to the passage through the alembic is transformed into grappa.

A place where the final product is only just a small step of that which is the reflection of those who have worked to make this grappa synonymous with excellence and Italian craftsmanship.


Spot dedicated to tasting and buying grappas and wines for more than 20 years, it’s just a few steps from Monte Rosa, Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore.


Inside you’ll be welcomed by pleasant and modern surroundings, where you can leisurely enjoy an excellent glass of grappa or wine in peace.