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Bel Paese, a cheese with an Italian flavour

The Bel Paese, the historic ‘Made in Italy’ cheese, has been on Italians’ tables since the beginning of the 20th century and is known worldwide.

reading time5 minutes

Create an Italian cheese, so good that it would supersede even the luxury cheeses from beyond the Alps!

This was the bet won by Egidio Galbani, who invented Bel Paese, the historic Made in Italy cheese loved by generations of Italians and known worldwide.

Egidio Galbani was born in lower Ballabio, in the province of Lecco, in 1858. At 24, he founded the Caseificio Davide Galbani with his father Davide and started the artisanal production of robiola and fresh cheeses for the local market.

A better cheese than French ones

Around 1890, they moved the business to Melzo, 20 km from Milan, because of its proximity to the Milan-Venice railway and the ease of finding raw materials. The business grew, and Egidio Galbani decided to invest in realising his dream of creating an Italian cheese that was unique and different from all the others, so good that it would reduce the import of French cheese.

After several attempts, in 1906, he found the right balance between flavour, processing and ripening, and his philosophy is well summed up by this sentence in the 1906 ‘Illustrated Catalogue of Various Specialities’: “It was not without honest regret that for the past few years, standing in front of our cities’ leading delicatessen shops, one could not spot any luxury cheese bearing an Italian name. I was the first who, after several attempts, succeeded in superseding imports by marketing my luxury cheeses“. Its original recipe essentially required four ingredients: high-quality raw materials, easy storability, digestibility, and simple taste.

The importance of marketing

Having already grasped the importance of marketing, he decided to call his new cheese FORMAGGIO del BEL PAESE, referring to the book Il Bel Paese (1876) by Abbot Antonio Stoppani, the father of Italian Geology and Palaeontology, a book about our country’s geophysical beauties that was still famous at the beginning of the 20th century.

The packaging is also an innovative element for the time. As a tribute, he printed the face of the Abbot and a map of Italy highlighting the cheese production areas on the label. The colours he chose were green, white and red. He then began producing the Bel Paese on an industrial scale (while maintaining an artisanal stage), achieving great success.

In the 1930s, as many as 7500 quintals of Bel Paese came out of the Galbani factories! Despite the many difficulties created by the World Wars, international recognition also arrived. BEL PAESE was even awarded the prestigious ‘Roi des Fromages’ title in France.

In 2006, the Galbani Group became part of the French Lactalis Group, and the Lactalis Italia Group was established. The holding company manages the most important brand portfolio in the dairy sector in Italy – Galbani, Invernizzi, Cademartori, Locatelli, Président – with thousands of employees, more than one billion in turnover, and exports all over the continent!

Congratulations to those who bring the flavours of Made in Italy cheese worldwide!

Discover other Made in Italy outstanding products!