Grana Padano is one of the world's first hard cheeses, created nearly 900 years ago by the Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle Abbey, founded in 1135 near Milan, who used ripened cheese as a way of preserving surplus milk. By the year 1477, it was regarded as one of the most famous cheeses of Italy. It can last a long time without spoiling, sometimes aging up to two years. It is made in a similar way to the Parmigiano Reggiano of Emilia-Romagna but over a much wider area and with different regulations and controls.
It's easy to understand why Grana Padano is Italy's most popular (and most consumed) hard cheese. Whether eaten on its own or grated over pasta and salad, its deep golden color, fruity aroma, firm texture loaded with deliciously crunchy amino acid crystals (concentration of calcium lactate) and sweet caramel-like taste make it irresistible.