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Italy produces a wide variety of world-famous cheeses that are the result of a continued tradition of quality. Discover their Italian difference as we explore the unique flavours of one of Italy’s most beloved staple products.
Italy produces over 600 varieties of cheese, with every one uniquely reflecting generations of heritage, tradition and geography—from the meadows of the Po Valley to the Alpine pastures and onwards. Yet the most renowned varieties bearing historical Italian origins hold DOP status, guaranteeing that the product was made by local farmers and artisans in a specific region, using traditional methods.
Although the stories of their creation are unclear, the passion that positions Italian made cheese as some of the best in the world is undoubtable. And it is this passion that made authentic Italian cheese a beloved culinary staple around the world.
But before the world knew of Italian cheese, it was particularly favoured by the Romans during the Roman Empire. The prominence of sheep and goats’ cheese grew due to the products’ long-term storage capabilities, making it ideal for rationing. It is thought that the Romans are responsible for the introduction of cheese to many European countries. In fact, cheese was such a popular food amongst Romans, that many of their homes had a special kitchen—a caseale—set aside for making, storing and aging cheeses. Pecorino Romano DOP, a nutty and sweet sheep’s milk cheese, is believed to have originated during this era.
In medieval Italy, monasteries scattered throughout the country became well-known as centers of cheese making excellence. But it was during the Middle Ages when the cultural and economic significance of cheese began to develop; types of cow’s milk cheese also began to grow in popularity.
Today, the vast variety and excellence of Italian cheese production is widely celebrated around the world. From the “king of cheese” Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and equally revered Grana Padano DOP to exquisite Gorgonzola DOP and soft, spun Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, just to name a few, Italian cheeses are distinguished by the inimitable craft and care that go into their creation.