A guide to Lake Como’s cheeses

A selection of our favorites and must-try!

You have traveled a long way to visit Lake Como, its enchanting villas, quaint little hamlets and stunning views but, as for sure you have been told, a trip to Italy is not truly perfect until you taste local food…  What makes Italian food so famous around the globe, you ask? Well, it is delicious as it is varied, in fact, every few kilometers you will find a different typical dish made only with the best locally sourced ingredients. In this article, we’ll try to give you an overview of Lake Como’s cheeses.

If we wrote a guide to the best Italian cheeses we would probably publish a book! So today we’ll limit it to a guide to Lake Como’s Cheeses. Less known abroad maybe, but a must-try that will delight your taste buds with their flavors! So here is a list, divided by area of production, of the cheeses to try at Lake Como.

Valsassina Cheese Tasting

LAKE COMO’S CHEESES FROM VALSASSINA:

Valsassina is a valley bordering with the Eastern branch of Lake Como and about a 15 minutes drive from the city of Lecco. Valsassina is full of wonderful sceneries, hikes, pastures and even a sightseeing balcony overlooking the lake – the perfect spot to enjoy sunset. One of the secrets of the Valsassina cheesemakers is in the area’s natural cellars: caves and hollows carved into the rock where currents beneficial to the cheeses blow so now let’s get back to our guide to Lake Como’s cheeses… Here are the three varieties that you’ll have to try if you want to eat like a local at Lake Como:

  • TALEGGIO: a soft cheese produced with whole cow milk. It has been produced for centuries in the Valsassina Valley as its micro-climate is perfect to bring out Taleggio’s intense and deep aromas.
  • GORGONZOLA: a “blue cheese” meaning it’s a tasty cheese with green grains of mold. It can be sweet and creamy or spicy and decisive. Making it perfect to be tasted alone, on bread or as an ingredient of a delicious recipe. The historical roots of Gorgonzola date back to the fifteenth century, when a herdsman arriving in Gorgonzola town left curdled milk in a container to obtain this particular cheese.
  • QUARTIROLO:  Excellent both in the matured and fresh versions, Quartirolo Lombardo is a great classic. It has a sweet and delicate flavor making it one of our client’s favorites. If you like stronger scents, we suggest the matured version which, after a seasoning of about 40 days, has a more nuanced flavor, slightly acidic based on the duration of the maturation, with a typical aroma of grass and wildflowers.

Join us on our “Cheese and Ham Lovers” tour to know everything there is to know about how these cheeses are made and enjoy a delicious tasting of these and other top-quality cheeses in a beautiful setting with a mountain view.

What are you waiting for? Eat like a local in Valsassina with us! Book now your Cheese and Ham Lovers tour!

LAKE COMO’S CHEESES FROM VALTELLINA:

Valtellina is the valley that extends from the top of Lake Como to the East. Stunning views, wonderful hikes and hearty cuisine make Valtellina a worthy destination for a day trip! Valtellina is also known as home to “Pizzoccheri” (a pasta dish made with buckwheat, potatoes, cabbage, butter and cheese!). Lots and lots of cheese and butter are used to prepare this truly delectable dish.

The original recipe requires Casera DOP cheese, choosing 3 different agings for a deeper, more structured flavor. But some prefer a combination of 2-3 kinds of Valtellina cheese such as Bitto, Latteria, Scimudin and obviously, Casera.

Cheeses to try in Valtellina

Come with us on a Valtellina tour for a day full of flavors of this valley. You will learn and taste these cheeses in a grocery store dated 1883, then visit some historic wineries to sample and learn how to pair Valtellina’s unique wine, and finally relax while savoring Pizzoccheri paired with a glass of that Valtellina’s fine red wine you just learned to love!

So what are you waiting for? Eat like a local in Valtellina with us! Book now your Valtellina Wine Tasting Tour! 

Ps: When you’ll want to remember your stay here, watch this adorable nonna teaching you how to make the perfect Pizzoccheri.

https://youtu.be/8oE9zdT53h0
Credit for the video to Pasta Grannies, an incredible channel on which every Friday, Italian ‘nonne’ prepare traditional pasta dishes. Enjoy!

LAKE COMO’S CHEESES FROM THE LAKE AREA

The Lake Como area is a land of mountain pasture cheeses, especially in Valle d’Intelvi, where masterpieces of the art of cheese-making are born. And every town, every mountain has its own local cheese and different version of a similar cheese produced a couple of km away!

  • CASORETTA:  is a fat cheese made from cow’s milk and a little goat’s milk, which ages for at least a month and is then used to flavor pastas, polenta and so on.
  • ZINCARLIN: is also produced in Valle d’Intelvi and in bordering Switzerland. It is an aromatized ricotta cheese that can mature for even more than a year, it is coated with black pepper which gives it an unique vanilla scent and tantalizing flavor.
  • SEMUDA: a low-fat cheese made from manually skimmed cow’s milk is produced further north, between Dongo and Gravedona.
  • MAGRO DI BELLAGIO: another low-fat cheese made from fresh pasteurized partially skimmed milk. It has a maturation period of 25 days and is used in the preparation of typical Larian dishes such as polenta uncia and tocc.
  • FURMAGITT: finally on the Lario (the real name of Lake Como), everyone knows these goat or cow’s milk cheeses that are great both fresh or aged… taste these au naturel or flavored with pepper and oil or herbs grown in the area.

So what are you waiting for? Eat like a local in Como and Bellagio  with us! Book now our Como Food Tour to taste some of these cheese.

Where to find Lake Como’s cheeses

You will find all these Lake Como’s cheeses in any supermarket but if you really want to eat like a local you will buy them in a deli store – we’ll spot some out in our Como Food Tour  (book here) – or even better straight from the source with our Cheese and Ham Lovers tour or on a Valtellina Wine Tasting Tour.

Historical Deli Store

We hope you found this guide to the best Lake Como’s cheeses useful and remember that we are here to help you with any question regarding Lake Como and its surrounding. We love designing incredible experiences for you all year round!

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