Located in northern Italy, with the fashion and business powerhouse Milan at its centre, the landlocked region of Lombardy might not have the sea lapping at its feet, but what it lacks in coastline it makes up for in culinary kudos.
With a wealth of agricultural land set between the fertile rivers, as well as mountainous areas, Lombardy is an ideal zone for the cultivation of fruit and livestock, as well as the making of traditional cheeses and charcuterie.
The terrain lends itself to a wealth of local and regional food delicacies, from the world famous Bitto and Bagoss cheeses though to Bresaola and Mantova pumpkins.
We explore just some of the Lombardian regional specialties that should be tasted at least once on any trip.
Typical Cheeses from Lombardy
Bitto is a typical Lombardian cheese that comes from the Valtelline valley in Lombardy. It's aged for two years and made with whole raw cow's milk, from herds that graze in Bruno Alpina, plus 10% added goat's milk. The historic Bitto, included in the Slow Food Presidium, is made by hand.
A typical Lombardy cheese, but also produced in Ticino, as well as in the provinces of Como and Varese. The alpine cottage cheese is flavored with salt, pepper and herbs. Across the border on the Swiss side, Zincarlin from the Muggio Valley, is a Slow Food Presidium food, produced from the lactic curd of cow's milk. After ageing the cheese develops a yellow crust and a soft and fatty interior, with a complex aroma.
3. Formai Haute Valle de Mut Brembana DOP
This hard cheese with a grey crust comes from the mountains of Bergamo, from an altitude ranging from 1300 to 2500 meters, and is aged for at least 45 days.
Typical of the Valle Camonica and the municipality of Bagolino, Bagoss is a cheese that has saffron added during the breaking of the curd; this is where it gets its pale yellow colour. The name comes from the inhabitants of Bagolino, the "Bagossi."
5. Formaggella of Luinese DOP
Typical of some countries Varesino, Formagella of Luinese PDO is a soft, mild cheese made with goat's milk.
6. Taleggio DOP
Perhaps one of the most famous cheeses in Lombardy, Taleggio is produced in the foothills and lowlands of Bergamo. Uniform and with a compact texture and both a strong and sweet flavour, Taleggio has ancient origins, traceable back to before the 10th century.
7. Grana Padano DOP
Famous in both Italy and worldwide, Grana Padano is a hard cheese with a savoury flavour, and is used similarly to parmesan. To differentiate it from other hard cheeses there is the classic branding on the whole cheese.
8. Provolone Valpadana DOP
Made from cow's milk, provolone can be either sweet or spicy. It requires a minimum maturation of 30 days with a longer maturation for the spicy version, which can reach 16 months. The latter is extremely aromatic.
9. Quartirolo Lombardo DOP
This cow's milk cheese whose origins date back to the 10th century takes its name from the grass quartirola (grass grown after the third cut), and fodder used for feeding the cattle in late summer.
Only found on the plains of Lombardy, the Pennerone is a fat cheese, made of whole cow's milk.
The result is a particular taste, between sweet and bitter that is hard to find in other Italian cheeses.
Typical Charcuterie from Lombardy
11. Bresaola della Valetellina IGP (Air Dried Beef)
One of the most beloved of the Italian charcuterie, which can be found around the world, has ancient origins. The first records relating to its production date from the 15th century, but it is thought that the origin dates even further back than that.
12. Salamini Italian Cacciatore DOP (Small Italian salamis for hunters)
The small sweet and spicy sausages are easy to eat taking their namesake from history when the sausages were in fact transported in the saddlebags of hunters as snacks.
13. Salami di Varzi DOP
This high-quality salami is produced with an ancient processing method using the finest pieces of pork. The meat is further flavoured with red wine, black pepper, garlic and sea salt. The Varzi Salami is formed in a cylindrical shape and has a layer of grey mould evenly distributed along the skin.
A prized salami that is produced from the finest cuts, including pork thigh, and seasoned with salt and garlic.
The sausage is made to mature for at least five weeks and up to 4 months, and is made only using pork from pigs bred in Italy.
15. Salame d'oca di Mortara IGP (Goose Salami)
From the province of Pavia comes Salami D' Oca di Mortara, a typical Lombardy food product with a great history, linked to that of the local geese farms, which dates back to the Middle Ages.
Its popular production probably came about from a Jewish settlement that consumed goose meat instead of pork for sausages. Salame d' Oca, however, is now made up in part by the lean goose as well as pork.
OIL - FRUITS - VEGETABLES
16. Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOP Lakes Lombardy
From the lakes of Iseo and Como come two very delicate and fruity olive oils.
17. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Garda DOP
This oil originates from the slopes of Lake Garda and is a perfect accompaniement to lake fish (Arctic char and trout).
18. Mantova Pears IGP
A real treat for lovers of fruits and vegetables, and cultivated since 1400 in the southern part of the province of Mantova. Today about 1000 hectares produce about 300,000 tonnes of pears every year.
19. Mantova Melons
Sticking in Mantova for a melon that is produced mainly in the area of Viadana, in Cremona, in the area of Sermide, Mantova Rodigo.
20. Mantova Pumpkin
Meaty and hard, low-calorie, rich in potassium and sweetish in taste: this unusually shaped pumpkin is one of the most popular fruits in Lombardy and has become the symbol of the territory.
21. Valtellina Apples PGI
Cultivation dates back to ancient times in the valley from Sondrio. Apples from Valtellina enjoy the mountain climate and have excellent organoleptic qualities, and, unlike plain apples, don't suffer from rust.
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.