Italy’s top five cheeses

Italy’s cheeses are famed throughout the world – and with good reason! Here are our top five… which is your favourite?! Photos by iStock/ Getty Images

parmesan cheeses

1 Parmigiano-Reggiano, the undisputed king of Italian cheeses (above), comes from a designated area around Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilia, and is a grana, or hard cheese, with a nutty, sweet/salty umami taste. Spring-powered steel buckles tighten the cheeses into the familiar ‘wheels’, which are then immersed in brine for 20 days and left to age for a further year, at which point the Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspects each one. If the cheese passes the test, it is branded with the all-important logo for authenticity. 



 Pecorino, a cheese made in Lazio and Sardinia from sheep’s milk, is fast gaining ground on its big brother Parmigiano-Reggiano. Eaten fresh, pecorino is softer and lighter than Parmesan, while aged varieties are harder in texture, with a salty bite.







3 Gorgonzola is a blue cheese from Lombardy and one of the world’s gutsiest. Hailing from its namesake town, it adds delicious piquancy to risotto and can be used instead of Stilton in many dishes. The mould produced while it matures in damp caves creates the trademark tang. 






4 Delicious in sweet pastries, with savoury pies and pasta sauces, or just a hunk of bread, Ricotta romana is a plump, creamy cheese made in Lazio from whey. This is ricotta at its absolute best, with a silky smooth, rich consistency and a delicate flavour with just a hint of sweetness.






 Soft, sweet Mozzarella di bufala is principally made in Campania, and the best is made from unpasteurized water-buffalo milk. Used as a pizza topping, it is also tasty when refried or baked. To enjoy it at its best, it should be eaten within a few hours of production.