Caciocavallo Cheese Cave at La Massaia in Vieste Italy

Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese, Italy’s Most Expensive

Caciocavallo Podolico is one of the world’s most expensive cheeses thanks to the Podolica cattle from which its milk and name are derived. This rare breed thrives on lots of wild herbs, but very little water.

As strictly wild grazers their milk yields are small, between three to six liters a day. It’s this high-fat, richly herbaceous milk that earns Caciocavallo Podolico cheese upwards of $50 a pound. Now that’s a lot of cheddar!

Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese

Caciocavallo pronounced ca‧cio‧ca‧vàl‧lo is a hard, raw cow’s milk cheese. Nicknamed “the Parmigiano Reggiano of the South” it tastes like a stronger more intense Parmigiano Reggiano.

Intensely aromatic flavors come from the Podolica cow’s unique diet of wild fennel, licorice, and myrtle.

Aged Caciocavallo Podolico cheese is the most valuable. Especially when we’re talking about years of time in a cheese cave because aging intensifies the flavor and creates a firm texture.

The Di Gilio family farm in Ferrandina (province of Matera) houses over 100 Podolica cattle. The video clip below shows the traditional milk-by-hand technique that is still used today. Plus an adorable Pololica calf who is looking mighty thirsty for Mom’s rich milk, so cute!

Podolico Cattle Video

L'ancestrale mungitura della podolica
Video of Podolica Cattle being milked for Caciocavallo Podolico cheese production

What Caciocavallo Means

Naturally, Caciocavallo Podolico cheese its named after the cattle breed. Furthermore in Italian “cacio” means cheese “cavallo” means horse and “a cavallo” means on horseback.

Now imagine bundles of cheese, tied in pairs, hanging over a tree branch in the Italian countryside. This is how Caciocavallo got its name.

The bundles look as if they are straddling the branches. Thus the full name.

How to Eat Caciocavallo Podolico

Despite the cost and unusual shape Caciocavallo can be eaten like any other slice and serve cheese. That said harder-aged Caciocavallo is also perfect for grating over red meat sauces or Tajarin pasta with mushrooms.

The flavor is intense and a little goes a long way. Personally, one of my favorite things about Caciocavallo is that it has staying power both in flavor and freshness. Great quality for an expensive cheese to have!

Kept in a cool, dry place Caciocavallo will last for several months. Once cut, simply store it in cheesecloth and keep it in the fridge. 

Where to Find Caciocavallo Podolico

In Italy Caciocavallo isn’t hard to find. In America, it might be trickier. Here are a few tips on where to find Caciocavallo cheese near you. Murry’s Cheese one of New York City’s best cheese shops began bringing cheese to the masses back in 2015 when it partnered with Kroger. Or you can try buying Caciocavallo online at Murry’s Cheese.

At Whole Foods try asking the cheese counter if they can order it, especially for you!

Tasting Caciocavallo the First Time

My own first experience with Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese was a highly memorable one.

Here’s the story in brief.

My husband and I were window shopping in Vieste when the site of an entire wall of Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese stopped us in our tracks.

As we stood pointing our fingers through the window, we finally looked up. The cheesemaker at Formaggeria La Massaia himself had caught us gawking. Little did we know he was about to give us a tour of his cheese cave!

Each step down those dark cellar stairs came with an intensifying aging cheese scent. It was here, standing among hundreds of bulbs of cheese that I learned about the Podolica cattle and Caciocavallo cheese.

That afternoon we feasted on an aged Caciocavallo Podolico cheese served with a side of tomatoes to smash on fresh crusty bread with local white wine. That experience is what convinced me Caciocavallo Podolico is worth the splurge! Especially when served up beside a gorgeous view of the Adriatic.

How about you? What’s your favorite guilty cheese pleasure?

  • Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese for Dinner in Vieste Italy
  • Caciocavallo Podolico cheese being sliced open La Massaia in Vieste Italy
  • Caciocavallo Cheese Cave at La Massaia in Vieste Italy

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Caciocavallo Podolico References

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  1. I love your blog,site. I am trying to summon up the courage to buy a retirement property in puglia. I have American and Irish citizenship but have lived in USA for many years. Does my European passport make it possible to bypass the fatca tax banking restriction problem. Note that I have paid taxes for years in the USA. Thanks Brandi.

    1. Hi Marianne, just a quick heads up, I removed your email address from the comment so it’s not public for anyone else. When it comes to FATCA a European passport does not help. Technically the issue is having American citizenship. So long as you have American citizenship FATCA will be a factor you’ll have to account for in banking and taxes abroad. It even impacts dual citizenship for those who have gained American citizenship after their others (including Italian.) If you’re serious (and who wouldn’t be when it comes to moving to Puglia!) I’d make sure to do a pretty good amount of research around FATCA and the implication when it comes to opening bank accounts in Europe. It’s doable just more cumbersome.