In the Save Heritage Bitto Union’s alpine pastures, grazing is done in rotation on different sections of land: each pasture is divided in stations. In the past each station was fenced off with stone walls, called barech , still visible in many valleys.
Nowadays portable fences are used. Within the stations we find the calécc, primitive square structures of about 4 x 4 m, made of low stone walls.
At the start of summer, the herds are taken to the first station of the pasture, at 1400m. The station’s calécc is covered with a temporary roof structure. Until the early 1900s the roof was made of wooden planks or home made woollen blankets, called palòrsc. Now the roof is normally made of a waterproof cover supported by wooden beams.
Itinerant processing place
The calécc is accessed through a side opening, usually protected by a wooden gate to keep the animals out. Inside, the calècc is divided into two areas: one side where the farmers can sleep and one where the Storico cheese is made.
Thanks to the calécc, the farmers can stay close to the herds and can start the cheesemaking process directly onsite, right after milking. In the cheesemaking part of the calécc, next to the hearth, there is always a copper “culdera” or cauldron, as well as other equipment (buckets, rope, skimmers, garòcc [containers] for maschèrpa , Spresun). All this equipment is carried from one calécc to another throughout the pasture’s stations. To this day, equipment is still carried by hand or with the aid of animals.
A calécc is used for as long as the animals are in one station, then the herd and the farmers move to the next station. Each station is at a higher altitude than the previous until, at high summer, the highest station and the last caleécc are used.
From past to present
The calécc is an interesting organizational system for the alpine activities, but it is also an historical site: it’s a “fossil” of primitive construction models that, although more common in the past, are still utilised today for the production of Heritage “Storico” cheese of the Bitto valley.
The calécc of the “Storico” rebels has become one of the symbols of the dairy resistance to a system that wants to ratify even the pastures!