The long history of Provolone Valpadana P.D.O.. Italianity, emigration and raw materials of excellence
The history of Provolone Valpadana is the story of a traditional cheese, the result of the interaction, over time, of important factors linked to the territory: the geographical characteristics, the agricultural production and the history of the men who worked and lived there.
The origins of Provolone Valpadana can be traced back to the period when the Cistercian monks took care of the vast operation of reclamation and channelling of rising and surface waters in the territory between the rivers Lambro and Adda.
This innovation created the basis for the development of a cereal-zootechnical production system, oriented towards dairy cattle rearing and cheese-making, which spread from the original nucleus of the lower Milanese area to the whole Po Valley and then established itself as the main economic resource of Po Valley agriculture, leading to the birth of many typical cheeses.
Provolone Valpadana cheese was born in the Po Valley around the second half of the 19th century from the happy union between the dairy culture of “spun paste “, coming from the south of Italy, and the dairy vocation of the territory.
The history of Provolone Valpadana continued in 1861, when the unification of Italy made it possible to overcome the barriers between the different areas of the peninsula and, therefore, the settlement of entrepreneurs from the south, who had transferred their production activities to the provinces of Piacenza, Cremona and Brescia. It is still today in these areas that Provolone Valpadana is produced.
This determined the spread of the culture and consumption of spun paste cheeses throughout the national territory. The Po Valley offers a great amount of milk suitable for cheese processing and also the necessary infrastructure to achieve quality production, which is developed in the Provolone Valpadana produced in very different formats (from a few ounces to over a quintal).
The name “Provolone” appears in literature for the first time in 1871, in the “Vocabolario di agricoltura di Canevazzi-Mancini” (Cappelli, 1871). “Provolone” thus means a large-sized provola. A completely original cheese, distinguishable from the other spun paste cheese widespread in southern Italy because it is large in size, able to mature for a long time, without drying out too much and therefore without becoming a grating cheese.
The denomination of origin “Valpadana” was introduced alongside the term “Provolone” in 1993 (D.P.C.M. 09-04-1993), crowning a centuries-old tradition that has determined the characteristics for which the cheese is known and appreciated.