Enjoy authentic buffalo mozzarella, or mozzarella di bufala, fresh from the source with a visit to Campana and Tenuta Vannulo Organic Farm.
What is real food? Anything you can buy from the store? Anything approved by the FDA? Everything that appeals to the tastebuds?
For us, real food is anything made from natural ingredients – not chemically processed. Not made in a factory and filled with preservatives so it can sit on shelves for weeks or months or even years. It’s fresh mozzarella straight from the farm, that’s only good for 3 days.
We have made an effort to eat as little processed food and as much real food as possible since we moved to Italy. It’s easy when fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to access. An added bonus is when you can get authentic DOP traditional balsamic vinegar in Modena, and fresh mozzarella in Campana. What’s not easy is getting out of the habit of buying those quick and easy snack foods! The most important thing is trying to find the best food wherever you are. Although we are not perfect, we are thinking more about what we eat and trying to improve. It’s better for us, and better for the environment.
What is Buffalo Mozzarella DOP, or REAL Italian Mozzarella?
There are two different kinds of mozzarella in Italy: mozzarella made from cow’s milk and mozzarella di bufala made from Indian water buffalo’s milk. What’s the difference?
From cow milk:
Fiordilatte, the “flower of the milk,” is traditional cheese that isn’t technically mozzarella. The cheese is similar in presentation, but lower in vitamins, minerals and fat content. It’s still delicious, but it’s not the best!
Mozzarella di bufala, or buffalo mozzarella:
This is the real deal. Buffalo milk is so rich in nutrients that, liter for liter, you can make almost double the cheese with buffalo’s milk compared to cow’s milk. The cheese is round, smooth, and soft; when it is fresh, it has a wonderful taste of milk and cream. Indeed, milk will burst from its many layers when the cheese opens.
So what is string cheese “mozzarella?” I have no idea, but it’s not real.
Tenuta Vannulo Caseificio Yogurteria Biologica
To get the freshest mozzarella we could, we headed to Tenuta Vannulo Caseificio. We had heard about the buffalo farms that make fresh mozzarella and were really excited to see it for ourselves.
Tenuta Vannulo Caseificio Yogurteria Biologica is an organic self-sustained farm. They have 200 acres for their crops and 600 buffalo; they have their own gardens and make their own animal feed, and everything they grow goes back into the farm.
They use no antibiotics, no artificial insemination, no pesticides – everything is done naturally. Because of that, only half of their buffalo produce milk at any given time. Buffalo manure is their fertilizer, their own vegetables are used in their restaurant, and all of the dairy products their foods require come from their own milk – even the cappuccino uses buffalo milk!
The farm and how to visit:
The Tenuta Vannulo farm is located south of Naples and Salerno near Paestrum. It is open from 7:00-19:30. If you would like a tour, make reservations in advance. They do offer them in English and charge 5 Euro per adult, but our kids ages 3 and 4 were free.
Whether you do a tour or not, walking around the farm is a must. You can go to a window and watch them pull the mozzarella, the process unique to making the delicious balls of mozzarella di bufula. You can also go see the buffalo in the stables and walk around the gardens bursting with fresh vegetables.
There are two differences in walking around the farm yourself versus taking the tour. The first is that you get to enter the stables and watch the buffalo from a raised platform. You’ll see them getting their massage or waiting in line for their turn to use the automatic machine that milks them. If you’re there between 7-9 AM, you’ll see the buffalo listening to Mozart!
The second difference is the information provided by the tour guides. They are friendly and speak excellent English, and the tour really is worth it if you can make it!
The buffalo are extremely well taken care of, and the farm was the cleanest I’ve ever visited. There was definitely an animal smell, but not the “hold your breath and walk as fast as you can” type. The buffalo themselves looked clean and didn’t have swarms of flies surrounding them.
Not only were the animals pleasant, but the employees genuinely looked happy when we caught them in their candid moments, which is always good to see.
It’s best to make reservations in advance if you want to pick up cheese. They only make a certain amount and when it’s out, it’s out! If you don’t make a reservation, you’ll want to make sure you go inside and grab a number.
Products from the farm:
- Mozzarella di Bufala DOP (DOP = Product of Designated Origin, a special certification)
- Ricotta DOP
- Leather goods
We’ve eaten lots of mozzarella since arriving in Italy, and we are sure to eat lots more. The bar has been set high, though, by Tenuta Vannulo. It helped to try it so fresh, but even when eating the cheese at home we tasted and felt the difference. The texture was smoother, the layers inside the cheese were more tender, and the creamy milk inside was even more delicately flavored.
It’s worth noting that they do not ship their cheese. If you want it, you go to them. Remember that you don’t want to stock up on 20 kilos of delicious fresh mozzarella, because it only lasts 3 days before you need to cook with it. Whether you live nearby or far away, do two things: 1. Enjoy every delicious bite, and 2. Visit as often as you can!
There is a small bakery, a cafe, a yogurteria/gelateria, and a full restaurant on the farm. It was lunch time when we were ready to leave and since they would have the best quality of food, we should eat there!
When we walked in, I almost wanted to walk out since it looked so nice. The kids had just been playing on a farm so I was afraid we were going to break something or be too rambunctious. However, we stayed and eventually more families came in and it wasn’t my kids making all the noise!
The food was incredible and well priced. We enjoyed the vegetable platter for an appetizer and everything was fresh from the garden. We highly recommend it!
Kids at the Mozzarella di Bufala farm:
This adventure was a win for the whole family. Matt and Jeannie have a special bond over mozzarella cheese – she absolutely loves it!
Quotes about mozzarella from Jeannie:
“Mozzarella makes me brave and strong”
“My toe hurts, it’s going to fall off if I don’t have any mozzarella!”
“Mommy you need to get mozzarella for me and daddy!”
Royce loves animals. He would spend all day looking at the animals if he could. He also loves gelato so he also had a great day!
Plan your trip:
Experiencing the finest that Italy has to offer definitely includes Mozzarella di Bufala. Try Modena for the life-changing traditional balsamic vinegar, Pepe in Grani for the best pizza and Tenuta Vannulo for the absolute best mozzarella.
Have you enjoyed and fantastic food experiences in Italy? Tell us about it in the comments below!