Italian dop and iGP cheeses: Seven “anniversaries” to celebrate in 2019

Milan – It’s not just the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing or the 90th anniversary of Wall Street’s collapse: 2019 is also the year of other, tastier and more surprising anniversaries. Such as those of the seven DOP and IGP cheeses, which Assolatte has identified thanks to the first database of local cultural resources, created by Ismea, which makes it possible to discover their presence in works of art: from ancient texts to paintings, from historical documents to architectural heritage.

The 52 Italian cheeses bearing the official EU geographical indications represent the excellence of the Italian cheese-making tradition. In the last five years, the first ten products, which represent 97% of the total volumes, have seen production increase by 7% and have become increasingly significant for the economy of the Italian dairy sector.

From the very fresh (such as the Burrata di Andria Igp or the Squacquerone di Romagna Dop) to the ultra-matured (such as Grana Padano Dop and Parmigiano Reggiano Dop), from the great Italian classics (such as Gorgonzola Dop and Pecorino Romano Dop) to specialties for connoisseurs (such as Ossolano Dop or Casciotta di Urbino Dop), PDO and PGI cheeses testify to the great Italian tradition in the processing and transformation of milk, which has given birth to authentic masterpieces of taste, appreciated and sold all over the world, and with a long (and often curious) story to tell. Like these seven cheeses marked by Assolatte, and which celebrate as many important anniversaries in 2019.


The tradition of pecorino cheese in Sardinia has ancient roots. One of the first testimonies dates back to 59 B.C. and is the testimony of the invasion of the southern part of the island written by Diodorus Siculus: “The locals moved away from the conquerors and woven in the mountains and dug underground habitats, life sustained with the fruit of the flock, so they had a large copy of food and milk and cheese, gave them enough food. Over the centuries, the production and trade of pecorino cheese has grown. Several sources point out that in the nineteenth century the Sardinian Flower was the only cheese to be known and sold on the “continent”, mainly thanks to the Neapolitan, Leghorn and Genoese merchants.


The date and place of birth of Gorgonzola remain a mystery. There are many hypotheses, including the hypothesis that it was first made in 879 in Gorgonzola, which for centuries remained the main centre of production and trade, where it was made with milk from the cows returning from the pastures or mountain pastures. Since the milk of the “stracche” cows was used for transhumance, it was called “green stracchino” or, simply, “stracchino di Gorgonzola”.


The first historical references to this cheese, one of the oldest products in the Italian Alps, can be found in the “Regola di Spinale e Manez” of 1249, where it is written “…unum pensum casei sani et pulcri sicci de monte (Spinali)” or “a weight of healthy and beautiful cheese from Mount Spinale”. In the following centuries the Spressa is mentioned in numerous documents, among the parish archives, as the “Urbario” of Don Marini (dating back to 1915-16) in which the “Spressa da polenta” is mentioned as a typical cheese.


The rescue contract for two herds of cows from the monastery of San Martino in Parma, dating from 1349, is the first known document relating to the production of this cheese. In the same year Boccaccio mentioned in the “Decameron” the “grated Parmesan cheese”. Fifty years later, one of his followers, the Lucchese merchant Sercambi, wrote a short story set in a villa in Parma: it is the first written in which it speaks of the request to pay for sexual intercourse with the local cheese. The first evidence of the sale of Parmesan cheese outside Italy dates back to 1389: in fact, the Pisans loaded it onto their ships bound for France, Spain and North Africa. The commercial development and the need to protect it led the Duke of Parma to formalize the denomination of origin and the territory of production with a deed dated August 7, 1612.


These cheeses are mentioned in 1789 among the excellent local agricultural products donated by the doge Ludovico Manin to the art of the Venetian fruitjuoli. Other written testimonies that prove the presence of the Casatella Trevigiana in Venice date back to the 17th century, such as the satire printed in Venice in 1671, which exalts the “frankness of the first life” of the Venetian hinterland and speaks of simple and genuine, and very delicious foods, made with cow’s milk, such as “recote and formagiele, foods to be licarse to the gods…”.



The production process of buffalo ricotta is described by Achille Bruni, professor at the Royal University of Naples, in his monograph “Del latte e dei suoi derivati” published in 1859 in the New Agricultural Encyclopaedia: “When the milk is milked and poured into a tub, the kid’s rennet is put there; and after having thickened with a wooden spatula, it is cut into large pieces. Then, with a wooden trowel, the whey is removed and boiled to make the ricotta”. This production technique had ancient origins, dating back at least to the fourteenth century when buffaloes were introduced in central and southern Italy, and boasted an appreciated tradition. This is demonstrated by one of the first and most authoritative quotations of buffalo ricotta, made by Bartolomeo Scappi, cook of the papal court, in the cookbook of the year 1570.


In a manuscript of 1899, signed by the priest Piston, we read that in the municipality of Roccaverano there were five annual fairs in which they sold “excellent Robiole cheeses” for export, ie sold both in northern Italy and France, it speaks explicitly of export because Robiola was already at that time a cheese known not only in Italy, but also in France.

Devi essere registrato per inviare un commento Entra o registrati