Provolone (large provola) is a pale yellow, semi-hard, full-fat cow's milk cheese with a smooth skin, made by combining the milking from the morning and evening and by kneading the curd while it's still hot.
It originated in Casilli near Mount Vesuvius, with taste varying significantly from provolone piccante (spicy/piquant) - using goat or lamb's rennet to coagulate the milk, aged for a minimum of four months up to a year, with a very sharp taste, often used as an ingredient or a grating cheese - to provolone dolce (sweet) which is made using calf's rennet, aged only two to three months, a perfect table cheese for its creamy, mild taste.
Provola, the smaller sized and older version of provolone, possibly created in Puglia or Molise before the 1600s, could be either plain or affumicata (smoked).
From Campania, provolone’s production spread all over Italy, especially in the cattle-rich, northern area of the Pianura Padana (Po Valley). It is produced in different shapes: like a very large sausage; in a truncated bottle shape; and in a large pear shape with the characteristic round knob for hanging.
Provolone can weigh anywhere from a pound to several hundred pounds: the typical weight is 11 pounds.
Suggested wine pairing: an aged red.