Parmigiano Reggiano is the best known and most commonly used cheese in Italy and elsewhere. It is a hard cheese made from the milk of cows raised in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of Mantua and Bologna provinces, in the valleys, hills and mountains between the Po River and the Reno River. The milk sent for processing is constantly monitored to control quality and ensure the special features that make Parmigiano an entirely natural product, completely free of additives or preservatives. Parmigiano Reggiano is protected by a DOP (protected designation of origin): only cheese produced under the Consortium’s strict production rules obtain the Parmigiano Reggiano trademark. As it ages, this cheese acquires its typical crumbly structure and characteristic flaky texture, becoming more brittle and soluble. Indeed, what goes by the name of parmesan cheese outside this area is almost always an inferior imitation.