The winters in the north of Italy are long and cold, and the mountain people who lived there, although hearty and quite used to the harsh elements, needed special fortification now and then to stay warm. For this, they long ago invented a drink they called, in their local Piemontese dialect, Fildafer. (Filo di ferro literally means string of iron, the Italian term for bailing wire.) They drank the liquore hot, and so the name could be thought to apply to the warm feel it gave in the throat while drinking, or maybe to the bright, red-hot color of the opaque liquid, or maybe it is a reference to the sensation of strength it gave them, at least temporarily.
Today a local distillery in the foothills of Monte Rosa produces Fil da Fer using that same recipe, and it’s popular among a different kind of mountain people. Skiers, snowboarders, and others partaking in outdoor winter sports have discovered the drinks warming qualities, making it the perfect warm-me-up to hold and drink while sitting around a fire after a few runs.