What is Pecorino di Pienza?

Monday, December 10, 2018

What is Pecorino di Pienza?

Pecora is the Italian word for sheep and Pienza is the beautiful historic town in the Val d’Orcia visable from our veranda at BelSentiero. Pecorino di Pienza is therefore sheep’s cheese from the Val d’Orcia! They say that this is some of the best tasting sheep’s cheese in the whole of Italy due to the unique mix of grasses and wild flowers that grow in our beautiful valley and which form the staple diet of the sheep that are reared here.


Many of the sheep farmers who today are settled in the Val d’Orcia are descendant from shephards who moved across from Sardinia in the early 1900s or before together with their Sardinian sheep. At the time Sardinia, which is an island, had more sheep then it could cope with, while large areas of land north of Rome and in southern Tuscany were not heavily populated and had little agriculture (in the Val d’Orcia mainly due to previous over farming having created significant soil erosion). So to solve these twin problems the government of the day encouraged Sardinian shephards to move across to the mainland, flocks of sheep, dogs and all! One can just imagine the sight of some of these shephards with their flocks making the journey by foot to their new home!


Fortunately, the net result has been some of the best sheep’s cheese to be found anywhere. The cheese making experience handed down from generation to generation of Sardinian shepards, combined with the unique grasslands of the Val d’Orica have created a cheese that is today highly renowned. This cheese typical comes in three basic types, namely “fresco” (or very young cheese with a white rind), “rosso” (cheese that is only a few months old with an orange rind) and “stagionato” (mature cheese that is 12 months or older with a black rind).

Each has its own unique flavour and place in the different local dishes. In addition to this you also get flavoured cheeses. These are typically cheeses where something has been added during the cheese making process, such as truffles, walnuts or chillies, or where the cheese has been covered in other plant material, such as walnut leaves, during the maturation process.

So if you thought that cheese-making was just a French thing, don’t be mistaken! Cheese is also very popular in Italy with each region having its own speciality and in Tuscany that is the pecorino di Pienza from the Val d’Orcia.

So if you enjoy good food and would like to discover more about the most famous cheese of Tuscany, then e-mail me on info@belsentiero.com and we would be more then happy to make an appointment for you to visit one of the local pecorino cheese farms when you come and stay with us at BelSentiero.

See you soon in the Val d’Orcia!

Jan ☺