To speak of Italian cheeses is to speak of the complex histories and terroirs of the 20 marvelous regions of Italy.
If I learned anything from dining with Italians from north to south, it’s that knowing regional enogastronomical traditions can result in some delightful praise. Consider this: Italy wasn’t a single country until 1861, when the Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi unified all the regions. With each regional geography, language and traditions being so unique, it’s no wonder why each state boasts territorial pride. Some say Italy is a united country, solely during the World Cup.
While Parmigiano Reggiano is an indisputable global star, currently over 480 Italian cheeses exist and 47 are D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta: Protected Designation of Origin) certified. D.O.P. is a certification of excellence strictly standardized by Europe, a guarantee that the cheese produced is packaged in designated places. Local and obscure cheeses (note: Casu Martzu of Sardinia) are always fascinating and exquisite to discover, but not all Italian cheeses are available in the U.S. due to FDA restrictions regarding certain production processes and unpasteurized raw milk usage.
I will leave it up to your curious palate to indulge in the best kept Italian secrets during your next Italian getaway. In the meantime, follow this map to discover a morsel of the many cheeses that represent the 20 Italian regions. Ask your local U.S. cheese store for availability to enjoy some of the flavors from the comforts of your home. Buon viaggio!