Cheese in Matera

Written by Katie Parla on April 21, 2008

Most people visit Matera for the Sassi, cave dwellings inhabited since neolithic times, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. That is certainly why we visited. But we extended our trip for an extra 3 days for the cheese! While most tourists were busying themselves in Matera’s medieval rock-hewn churches, my dad and I were interviewing the local cheese makers who work from 6am-noon making cheese for the city and neighboring towns. For six magical hours a day, cow and buffalo milk is pressed and pulled into primo fiore (fresh and creamy), ricotta (fresh and spreadable or dried and slightly hard), mozzarella, caciocavallo, and provola. The process is labor intensive, the mozzarella and caciocavallo, in particular which are masterfully stretched and formed by experts whose craft should be considered an art.

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