Tresviso is settled on a landing over the Urdón river-bed and is delimited by the "Jorcá de la Panda" and "Las Rullás", to the north; the "Cueto", to the south; the winter sheds (shacks) called "Prias" and the track which goes to "Urdón" to the east; finally the mountain range "La Mesa" to the west. The access to the village is both from the Hermida gorge, turning at Urdón, and walking up through an impressive track, or also passing the Asturian village of Sotres, through the Picos de Europa mountains.
It´s population could have been established after the re-population which took place in the times of king Alfonso I in the VIII century; but the first written news about it were during 942. In 1753, Tresviso appears as a "villa" and a domain. Nowadays is one of the seven councils in the region of Liébana.
THE LOCAL DRESS
It is in their dressing where the strong influence of the neighbouring region of Asturias can be seen, due to its proximity. Actually, this custom has been lost; but it is, Gustavo Cotera, researcher and great draughtsman from Cantabria, who has recovered the traditional dress which used to wear people in Tresviso for future generations.
About the man´s dressing, there is a reference from the past century, when the major in this village came up to the Royal Palace in Madrid invited by the king Alfonso XII, dressed in typical: jacket, cloth cap, breeches and "corizas" (a type of shoes). The cloth cap was low, top hatted, and with a triangular wing, put to one side.
The women´s dress was made up of a thick linen shirt, which was spin in the village homes and was down to half leg, opened down to the chest, and fastened with thread buttons. The sleeves were wide and the folds gathered together in a small cuff. The skirt reached the ankles, made and dyed at home in red, green, orange ..., cut and folded many times on the waist, and wore over a slip made of the same material. On the bottom it was decorated by a strip with suede geometrical shapes.
The bodice was made in baize, corduroy or cotton, prevailing the reds or yellows, and closing at the front with a round laze and buttonhole. The "dengüe" (which was the most peculiar part of the dress) was wore crossed over the chest and tied at the back with brooches or ribbons. It was usually black and lined up with linen falling roundly over half back. It was embroided with glass beads, and on the edge had suede stripes. Also the apron was never missing from the whole, and it could be either round or rectangular, usually light coloured, and decorated with little colour plats and embroidery.
On the lower part, the stockings where made of white or blue wool, and the shoes where a kind of locally made clocks "albarcas" and traditional pumps "corizas".
The hair style was straight backwards making a high bun with an embroided and fretwork scarf, whose corners would be crossed under the nape and tied at the top. Finally the adornment was added by wearing glass beads and long earrings.
TRESVISO ´S TRADITIONAL BLUE CHEESE
The blue cheese of Tresviso, called "Picón de Tresviso" has the origin designation of "Picón Bejes-Tresviso". The same as in the village of Bejes. These are the two places where this famous and delicious product is made and matured later in caves.
In the old days the manufacture of this cheese was made by the village farmers, on the sheep-fold (majada) "El Redondal", situated on the Andara fertile plains, where this people used to live from June until the end of September in huts or shacks.
At the beginning of the century thirty families lived in a total of eighteen huts; which were made by putting two rocks covered by a third one and joint with smaller stones and lime; leaving an only hole as the door. Next to the entrance there were, on the floor, the chains which held, on the air, a boiler to cook the whey. Also by the fireplace, were the boards where the cheese was placed to dry, until it was taken to the cellar; and finally a palliase, at the end, where they slept.
The manufacture of the cheese, as it was, started when the mixture was made with the two different milks (one milked the night before and the other milked in the morning). At that time the "cuaju" (rennet) was ready; which was the stomach of a kid stuffed with the last milk he sucked, and was hung to smoke. In this way, the milk, impregnated with the substance expelled by the membrane, curdled, developed and acid paste; then, this was cut into little pieces that were dissolved in warm water or whey. After three hours the curd was ready and then the whey was separated, using a wooden or porcelain spoon. The curd broke into irregular pieces and because of this quick de-wheying, hard cheese was obtained. If there was any clean whey on the top, it was removed with the spoon after putting a strainer over the curd and sometimes the curd was mixed and the whey was still being removed. By the time green drops came out, the "arnio" (mould) was prepared, which was made out from the bark of a beech tree or simply a tin, putting it over a board called "presugu", that was inside something similar to a kettle "cocina" with a nozzle to pour the whey.
The next thing was to put it near a recipient "pozal" where it was curdled by adding curd inside the "arnio" with the spoon. All this truss was set on the wooden shelves and covered with another board or "presugu", then left for twenty four hours. On the bottom of all of this, the "cardenillu" was forming. The next morning they were turned over and beginning to be salted, by putting a salt layer on the top and rubbing the edges, then returning the cheese back again in its mould. The day after it was salted once more on the other side and the salting was finished.
At this stage the "arnio" (mould) was taken off (this operation was called "desarnar") and was left to rest on the shelves during several days until dry and hard. It was the moment of taking them to the cave or the cellar. This was always small and north oriented. At the sheep-fold "El Redondal" the caves were underground covered by limestone rocks and at a temperature of 13º C and 18º C outside.
In a short time after staying in the cave the cheese got damp and a mucus started to appear, piercing the holes because of a fungus produced by the green "cardenillu".
The cheese was made mainly with sheep and goat milk. Sheep milk made it very creamy and goat milk gave it the strong and hot taste. Finally the green vain was given by cow´s milk. Tradition says that king Pelayo, after defeating his enemies in Covadonga, was gifted with a cheese "Picón de Tresviso" which was so big that he needed a cart to be able to transport it. He was so grateful for the present that he named its donors nobles.
Through the years Tresviso´s cheese has acquired a very deserving popularity, the same as the one from Bejes, which is demonstrated by the numerous prices won in national and international contests.
In the old days, when the villagers came down to the town of Potes to sell their cheese at the famous Monday market, they made their way through the track to Urdón and loaded ten kilograms of this famous product on their horse´s saddle-bags. And as they came back from the market, rather late, they slept in the village La Hermida, at Ceferino Campo´s house, who had a shop and some rooms, or also at Celestino Cotera´s house, to return back to their homes next morning. We are talking about the thirties, when there were around eighty neighbours in the village, and one kilogram of cheese used to cost four or five pesetas. These were undoubtedly other times.
To make a good blue cheese there isn´t an adequate milk proportion either from cow, sheep or goat, which are the three types of milk used for this purpose; nevertheless, it is recommendable that goat´s milk does not exceed in a twenty-five per cent when curdled, because this type of milk would be too noticeable. There is also usually a proportion of ten litres cow´s milk for each cheese, eight if it´s goat and six if sheep. Goat and sheep´s milk is mainly used during the right season, and then being in very little proportion. They are normally used from March until July or August.
When the villagers had to go through rough tracks and footpaths, up to the higher huts to milk the animals and then transport down the milk to make the famous blue cheese, it was done in a very peculiar and traditional way; with the aid of a "vejigu".
When the people in Tresviso killed a kid; not only the meat was used up as well as the curd, needed to make cheese, but the skin was converted into a singular recipient to transport the milk.
The process started when a sucking kid was beheaded and skinned. For this purpose they would only cut open the inside part on one of its back legs; to be able to take out the flesh and get out the skin the other way round.
When it was finally emptied, they introduced ashes inside the skin and was left hanging for a few days until putrefaction affected the inside parts; that way they managed to take out the rest of the flesh together with the ashes by washing this "vejigu" with hot water. The neck, "colluga" had to be well sealed, tying it up with string, and the back leg was opened making the mouth of the "vejigu".
The process continues by shaving off the skin hairs, but for this, first, the other three legs "pietinas" had been left emptied without opening. Now is when beech tree ashes are rubbed on the outside and the whole left wrapped in a sack for a month. After this time, the skin was again turned around with the hair outside and shaved very carefully.
The only thing left now was inflating the "vejigu" and leaving it to dry on the sun or smoke, then shaved again, washing it thoroughly and turning it round once more, so that the shaved part is left inside and the outside, which was the animal inside, is left ventilating.
This process, transmitted over generations, has been useful to keep one of the most beautiful traditions in Tresviso.
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