Mozzarella farms near Paestum

Bufala on a mozzarella farm in Campania
Bufala on an Italian mozzarella farm. (Photo by Luana Spagnoli)

The mozzarella farms of the Cliento coast

Mozarella fresca
Mozarella fresca. (Photo by RaBoe/Wikipedia)
The plains of the Cliento coast, just south of the Amalfi Coast in Italy's Campania region, are most famous among travelers for the amazing ruins of 6th and 5th century BC Greek temples sprouting among the scrub and poppies at Paestum.

However, these coastal lowlands are also the epicenter of Italy's mozzarella production.

One baking June day after visiting the temples I decided to cool off with a dip in the Mediterranean, so I followed the signs marked "mare" to Via Nettuno, which led—as the name suggests—to the beach after about a 25-minute walk.

I soon found myself passing mozzarella farms with "vendita diretta"—direct sales—signs. Just after I turned onto Via Torre di Paestum of Via Nettuno, I I crunched up the driveway of Azienda Agricola Barlotti (, past lines of lowing European water buffalo with shaggy beards and swept-back horns waiting to be milked.

(True mozzarella di bufala is made using water buffalo milk—and is far too delicate to melt on top of pizza. Pizza cheese is usually either a low-moisture version of mozzarella or fior di latte, the "flower of milk" version made from cow's milk.)

Working the mozzarella.
Workign the mozzarella. (Photo courtesy of Azienda Agricola Barlotti)
Barlotti is a proud member of the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP trade orgainization ( dedicated to maintaining the quality of locally-made mozzarella. In a farm outbuilding I found a small room crowded with vats of water, each one filled with bobbing bocconcini (mozzarella balls).

In a neighboring room, workers in white aprons were kneading vast blobs of proto-cheese in stainless steel tubs, pinching it off into bocconcini once it achieved the correct consistency.

A proprietor bustled in, scooped a half-pound ball from a vat and handed it to me to sample. It tasted of farm-fresh milk fluffed with air; each bite melted on my tongue.

I groaned in appreciation, and the smiling owner turned to a nearby case and began dishing out buffalo-milk yogurt and fresh ricotta drizzled with honey.

After about 20 minutes, I'd eaten more cheese than I would care to in a week but I felt obliged to buy. I stumbled out of there clutching a bag with four giant bocconcini.

It was about two pounds of cheese, and it cost me about $2.

Sitting on the beach a bit later, watching the rough surf, I began eyeing my bag. Finally I broke down, fished out a shining sphere of mozzarella larger than my fist, and took a big bite.


Duration: 9 hours
Private: From $275 per person 
Book: Reserve it

Ancient Paestum: Wine, Cheese and Ruins

The three Doric temples at Paestum are said to be the best-preserved Greek temples in the world. These magnificent monuments date back to the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., and are dedicated to the city's namesake Poseidon (also known as Neptune, god of the sea), Hera and Ceres. N

ear sandy beaches in a region known for its typical wines and delicious mozzarella di bufala cheese, Paestum is off the beaten tourist path so you can admire these perfect monuments in all their pristine beauty.

Departing from and returning to your hotel on the Amalfi Coast, first stop will be the Tenuta Vannulo, a farm in the heart of the Campania region where mozzarella di bufala is still produced in a very traditional way. You will tour the farm and learn all about the cheese-making process before sitting down to taste the freshly made cheese.

At the winery Marino you will enjoy a selection of Italian specialties accompanied by some of the typical wines of the South. A guided tour of the archaeological site of ancient Paestum and a museum that will give you a feel of life in the Italian countryside completes this full-day excursion that combines history and cuisine of Southern Italy. ...

Tips & links


Paestum tourist office:
Via Magna Grecia, Paestum
tel. +39-0828-811-016, or +39-0828-721-223

Mozzarella di Bufala DOP:

How long does Paestum take?

Planning your time: Give yourself at least a good 2–3 hours at the site and museum—after all, you made the effort and came all this way.

Unelss you can knock it off first thing in the morning, make Paestum an afternoon activity, starting with lunch, then some beach time (and mozzarella time), holding off on the museum and archaeological site until things cool off in the later afternoon—plus, this way you get to watch the sunset light up the stones of the ruins before turning in for the night then moving on the morning.

» Paestum itineraries

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Paestum tourist office:
Via Magna Grecia, Paestum
tel. +39-0828-811-016, or +39-0828-721-223

Mozzarella di Bufala DOP:

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