Casciotta cheese is made from full-fat sheep's milk (70-80%) and cow’s milk (20-30%) from livestock farmed in the provinces of Pesaro and Urbino (Marche) and the areas of Novafeltria, San Leo and Sant’Agata Feltria, and since 2009 also in the area just below the Rimini province (Emilia-Romagna).
The product's ties to the Marche region are also evident in the term cascio in casciotta, which is a regional variation of cacio, meaning cheese. Casciotta cheese was recognised as a delicacy as early as the 15th century, in the age of the dukes of Montefeltro and della Rovere. The most famous figures who held this cheese in high esteem are said to have included Michelangelo: legend has it that he accumulated casciotta cheese to such an extent that he acquired a series of farms in Urbania to be able to restock his supplies whenever he needed to.
A characteristic attribute of PDO Casciotta d’Urbino is the flavour of mountain herbs and wildflowers that evoke the areas the cheese is made in. Semi-cooked, soft and crumbly, wheels of casciotta are left to ripen for 20 to 30 days, after which they take on a straw-yellow hue.
When it comes to serving casciotta cheese, simplicity conquers all. Try it with mountain bread, charcuterie, ham and beans, or with the typical crescia sfogliata, a kind of flaky flatbread from Urbino, or PGI Piadina Romagnola flatbread, preserves or thin slices of green apple. Perhaps one of the more elaborate ways to serve this cheese comes from the Consorzio di tutela Casciotta d'Urbino consortium, which suggests filling large pasta shapes (tortellacci) with Casciotta d’Urbino cheese, artichokes and broad beans, seasoned with wild fennel.