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Once Upon a Time... The Buffalo


The origins of mozzarella are directly linked to the introduction of buffaloes in Italy. One of the most accredited hypotheses claims that the diffusion in southern Italy took place in the Norman era, starting from Sicily where the buffaloes were brought towards the end of the 10th century, following the invasions of the Saracens and the Moors.



In the Swabian era, buffaloes reached the current breeding areas.



Already in the twelfth century, the first historical documents appear that testify how the monks of the monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua used to offer a cheese called mound or provatura (when smoked), accompanied by a piece of bread, to the pilgrims who were members of the Metropolitan Chapter, who they went every year in procession to the Convent church.


Around the 11th century, the swamping of the coastal plains of the lower Tyrrhenian side - Piana del Volturno and the Sele - was completed, thus assuming those environmental characteristics most suitable for buffalo breeding.



There are several testimonies that prove the marketing of buffalo milk derivatives usually destined for the rich Neapolitan and Salerno markets. For obvious reasons of viability the only ones to arrive were "cut-offs" and above all "provings" in which the commercial life of the product was extended thanks to smoking.



The first "bufalare", characteristic masonry constructions, with a circular shape with a central fireplace, date back to the fifteenth century, where buffalo milk was processed to obtain provolone, caciocavalli, butter, ricotta and naturally buffalo mozzarella.



For the first time the term “mozzarella” appears in a famous text by Bartolomeo Scappi, cook of the papal court.



With the unification of Italy, the "Taverna" was born in Aversa: a real wholesale market for mozzarella and dairy products produced from the same milk, among which it is worth mentioning ricotta, which, on a daily basis, established the quotations in relation to production and demand. The trade was regulated on the basis of actual contracts that entered into force from September 1st to August 31st of the following year, stipulated between the owner of the buffaloes who also transformed the milk and the "distributor" of the products.



Mozzarella became a consumer product, also thanks to the creation in the province of Caserta, by the Bourbons, of a large buffalo farm with an adjoining experimental dairy for the transformation of the same milk. In a stable register the most important events of the buffaloes were noted, which was given a name that usually recalled the characters of the court. During the Spanish domination the buffalo was also used as an animal to hunt. In fact, “buffalo hunts” were organized during which the court went to the farming areas of the Volturno plain and that of the Sele.



“… Every buffalo has a name which is a verse and the names of a buffalo herd are a poem”. Rocco Scotellaro



The Lucanian poet and writer Rocco Scotellaro, in his investigation of the peasant culture of the South - Peasants of the South, says that the buffalo (the person dedicated to buffalo breeding) knew his buffaloes individually, as if they were "Christians". So much so that each of them gave a name. "Contessa", "Amorosa", "Cambiale", "Monacella", "‘ A malatia "," ‘Straw cup". Sometimes then the names turned into real maxims that arose from the behavior of the animals and from the close relationship they had with the buffalo

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