Organic Cheese from Val di Vara, rural Liguria

In Food & Wine
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biodistretto val di varaVal di Vara is a valley in the province of La Spezia, stretching inland from the Gulf of Poets and crossed by the Vara River. Its upper part is also known as “Valley of Organic Products” (Biodistretto Val di Vara – La Valle del Biologico) due to its 1200 hectares of fields and pastures that have obtained the BIO Certification, and more than 100 local businesses that have been certified for their organic and sustainable approach. Cheese is one of the food products of excellence of the area.

One of the local dairy cooperatives is called Cooperativa Casearia Val di Vara. Founded in 1978, the Val di Vara Dairy Cooperative was the first in Liguria to obtain the organic certification for its milk and cheese. It uses no preservatives nor chemical colorants, and its milk comes exclusively from the grazing lands of the Appennino Ligure.

Cooperativa Casearia Val di Vara

Here, like in many small local businesses around the Gulf of Poets and in the Biodistretto Val di Vara, the ancient recipes of dairy farming were integrated with modern technologies to ensure high quality and the genuineness of the past. The logo of Cooperativa Casearia Val di Vara is a small snail, which symbolizes the efforts, challenges and perseverance with which the first cheeses were produced.

The dairy factory produces a variety of cheeses, among which:

  • Ugo e Luigia: Soft cheese produced with cow’s milk and goat rennet from organic livestock. It pays homage to Marchioness Luigia Pallavicini and poet Ugo Foscolo. The noblewoman hosted the famous writer many times in her villa in Varese Ligure, one of the pretty villages in the Val di Vara.
  • Gratta: A compact cheese made with raw cow milk.
  • Tomini: Organic soft cheese produced with cow’s milk and goat rennet.
  • Stagionato di Varese Ligure allo Sciacchetrà: A refined, hard cheese made with raw milk, of which only 200-300 cheese wheels are produced every year. Its firm taste is the result of its unique production process: it is aged on its own for 5-6 months and then aged for about 60 days with grape marks of Sciacchetrà from the Cinque Terre National Park.

liguria cheese val di vara

Foodie Tips:

  • The cheeses “Ugo e Luigia” and “Tomini Biologici” are particularly superb when accompanied by a Vermentico DOC “Golfo del Tigullio” wine. They are also great if you combine them with chestnuts, particularly caldarroste (roasted chestnuts).
  • Combine the “Gratta” cheese with Ligurian bread baked in a wood-burning oven over a bed of chestnut leaves.
  • Cooperativa Casearia Val di Vara also produces organic yogurts, cold cuts, honey and jams, as well as seasonal produce from the horticulture by members of the cooperative.
  • Guided visits can be organized at the dairy farm for you to learn about the production processes, its history and local traditions, and especially for you to taste the delicious products.

val di vara organic cheese liguria

Cooperativa Casearia Val di Vara
Address: Località Perazza 19028 Varese Ligure (SP)
Tel. 0187 842108

Photo Credits:

Biodistretto Val di Vara

Caseificio Val di Vara

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