One of the biggest cheese producers in Europe, most people around the world could name at least three iconic Italian cheeses.
After all, where would pizza be without a generous scattering of mozzarella, a plate of pasta without a good grating of fresh parmesan on top and tiramisu without whisked fresh mascarpone.
Of course, while Italy undoubtedly has some of the best known cheeses abroad, in a country that boasts over 450 varieties of cheese, produced in practically every Italian province from North to South, it's easy to miss some other locally produced artisanal cheeses worthy of international fame.
With one of the world's largest cheese festivals due to descend on the home of SlowFood in Bra, northern Italy next month, we remind ourselves of just a few examples of Italian excellence in artisanal cheese.
Some well known, others a little less so, but all to be enjoyed just as they are, getting creative in the kitchen or simply as a delicious talking point. Here are the fine Italian cheeses well worth putting on your cheese board.
This pearl amongst cheeses comes from southern Italy, and the podolian breed of cattle. A noble cheese with an intense nose of milk and hay and a slightly granular texture with a slight spiciness on the finish in the mouth.
The Bitto cheese of the North is well-known, but it is better to specify that here we are talking about Bitto Storico, a definition used by Slow Food to differentiate it from industrial production. This cheese must be tried for its flavor rich in scents and her herbs, which improves over time.
Bagolino, in the province of Brescia is the home of another great Italian cheese, Bagòss. While it's only produced in small quantities that hasn't halted the spread of its popularity, where it's exported as far away as Japan. Its richness in taste comes from a craftsmanship that requires 300 liters of milk to create a wheel that weighs "only" 16 kilos after maturing.
A fairly little known cheese is the Blu di Morozzo, a raw herbaceous cow's milk produced by artisans in Morozzo (in the province of Cuneo). It's a must try for its soft and creamy consistency and the flavour sweet.