The history of using alpine huts in Val d’Ossola has been known since before the first century. The mountains of this area, even at very high altitudes, have wide, sheltered pastures for the animals and it is this characteristic that the local alpine shepherds have turned to good account in creating excellent cheeses throughout the centuries. The most famous alpine cheese-making hut in the Ossola area is Bettelmatt, in the high Val Formazza, in the northern part of Ossola, but equal fame has spread to those in Toggia, Kastel, Sangiatto, Lago Vannino, Alpe Forno and Poiala - all situated at over two thousand metres and all in the Val Formazza. They have a very limited production of only a few hundred forms each every year. These are all made during July and August and used to be brought down to the valleys by mules but, more recently, they make the trip down in helicopters. Since the summer season of 2003, in order to distinguish them from their numerous and widespread counterfeits, the alpine Toma from Bettelmatt have been fire branded with their name (see illustration above).