Italian dairy excellence

Entering the world of Italian cheeses means making a journey into the flavors, aromas and traditions that characterize the Peninsula and its cuisine. Cheese is a cornerstone of Italian gastronomy that can be found in the most renowned dishes, starting for example with mascarpone, a basic ingredient for the famous tiramisù, or mozzarella, the undisputed queen on Margherita pizza, or even pecorino for pasta dishes: “cacio e pepe”, “pesto”, “amatriciana”...

The variety of landscapes and climates of the Italian territory has influenced the national production of cheeses, which today boasts an incomparable tradition. Italy can in fact be divided into three macro areas.The northern area is characterized by the alpine and flat landscape, and the cheeses here are mostly produced with cow and goat milk, large in grading and with a semi-fat paste. The transhumance of large flocks of sheep instead characterizes the central hilly and mountainous area: this is in fact the typical area of pecorino cheeses. Finally, the southern area, which also includes the large islands, is characterized by the presence of fresh and stretched curd cheeses.

Italian cheeses are produced with cow, sheep, goat, female buffalo or mixed milk, and can be classified according to the treatment of the milk, the processing temperature, the water or fat content, and the aging time. According to the latter, for example, cheeses can be classified into fresh, short-aged, medium-aged and long-aged cheeses, based on the number of days it takes for the cheese to mature.


The production processes and especially the evaluation of the state ofthe cheese follow certain phases that guarantee its quality. Even the tasting is not left to chance but consists of various moments to examine the shape and texture of dairy products, through sight but also touch, smell and finally taste. Each cheese has its own type of cut, which is practiced with suitable knives. For the tasting, a cutting board is usually prepared on which pieces of the various cheeses are presented, accompanied by honey, jams, bread, and wine.

There are more than 400 types of cheese in Italy. One of the most famousis undoubtedly mozzarella, a fresh stretched curd cheese, produced with cow's milk or even female buffalo milk - in this case the buffalo mozzarella typical of Campania, which has become one of the ambassadors of Italian cheeses all over the world. In addition to being the quintessential cheese for pizza, mozzarella is one of the ingredients for the Caprese salad with tomato and basil, although is used for many other dishes.


Another cheese famous all over the world is the Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P., characterized by long aging and a hard and grainy paste, which is produced mainly in Emilia-Romagna, but also in Lombardy. A good sprinkling of grated Parmesan is the finishing touch for most pasta and risotto dishes, but the cheese shavings are also perfect to enjoy on their own. Very similar to Parmigiano is the Grana Padano D.O.P., produced instead in the regions of the Po Valley.

Grana Padano

Other famous Italian cheeses are pecorino, gorgonzola, taleggio, fontina, robiola, ricotta, squacquerone, stracchino, scamorza... There are, in turn, numerous other variants of many cheese with typical production areas, which contribute to the variety that characterizes Italian dairy products. Many of these are protected by the European brands PDO (protected designation of origin), PGI (protected geographical indication), TSG (traditional specialty guaranteed), and from the Italian PAT (prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale, i.e., traditional agri-food products).

Italian dairy products therefore represent a real excellence of national cuisine.

Written by
Rita Pistore