An important problem in mountain areas is the abandonment of pasture. This trend can be combated by the valorisation of typical dairy products, such as "Formaggella della Valle di Scalve", a semi-cooked traditional cheese made from whole milk in a mountain area in Italy. The aim of the present research was to compare the fatty acid (FA) profile and the sensory properties of this cheese as manufactured under different conditions: i) from the milk of cows grazing on mountain or valley pasture or fed indoors; ii) from the milk of cows fed hay or fed silage. In the first case, five cheesemaking trials were conducted during two years for each of the following situations: mountain pasture (A); pasture at the bottom of the valley (P) (about 1000m asl); stall (S). In the second case, three cheesemaking trials were conducted for each of the following situations: cows fed silage (I); cows fed hay (F). S cheese was richer in medium-chain FAs, while long-chain FAs were higher in P and A cheeses. On the other hand, long chain fatty acids (LCFA) were more abundant in P and A cheeses than in S. In general, MUFA, PUFA and, consequently, total unsaturated FA (UFA), were significantly higher in the P and A cheeses than S (UFA: 36.55 and 38.34, respectively, vs 31.13; p < 0.001), while SFA showed higher values in S (68.85 vs 63.41 and 61.68 in P and A, respectively; p < 0.001). Conjugated linoleic acid isomers (CLA) were more represented in the P and A samples (1.86 in P and 1.52 in A, vs 0.80 in S; p < 0.001); Omega 3 fatty acids, and in particular α-linolenic acid, were more abundant in P than in S cheese. In winter, the I sample (silage) presented higher percentages of myristic (C14), myristoleic (C14:1) and omega 6 acids, whereas F cheese (hay) contained higher concentrations of CLA. The triangular test of sensory analysis showed that, in general, F cheeses were judged as "sweeter" than I, with aromatic profiles characterized by higher content of 2- butanol and ethyl capronate.
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