Clearly Italy has a great variety of cheeses which range from fresh, mild delicacies like mozzarella (perhaps the world’s most popular cheese) to hard, aged cheeses with more mature flavors, such as Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano. How any given cheese tastes is the result of a number of factors. First and most important is naturally the type of milk used: cheese from cow’s milk tastes different from a sheep’s milk cheese, or from water buffalo’s milk or goat’s milk. What’s more, the place where the cheese is produced, the season during which it is produced, and how long it is aged are also major determinants of flavor. With regard to aging, the longer a cheese ages, the saltier and sharper and it becomes.
The production and maturation process further divides Italian cheeses into four categories: hard semi-soft, soft, and fresh. Moreover, certain cheese, such as Montasio, can be eaten at different maturation periods, each one bringing its own characteristics and flavors.