Cheesemaking in the Cyclades

Cheesemaking in the Cyclades is closely linked to the need for food self-reliance and the use of natural resources and climate for ageing and storing dairy products. The cheese production process in the Cyclades is closely tied to the local environment and traditional methods. Currently, people in the Cyclades produce cheese either at home or in modern cheesemaking facilities. They use the dry north wind and sunlight, along with salt, seawater, natural caves, pottery containers, animal hides, watermelons, olive oil, and wine sediments. Each island in the archipelago produces significant cheeses and dairy products that reflect the islanders’ connection to their cultural surroundings. These products come from dairy-making traditions, knowledge, and techniques that have been passed down through generations.

The element was inscribed on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece in 2024. You may find the Ministerial Decision in the following link:

The form of the element is available here:

The appendix is available here: 


1. Brief presentation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage element
a. How is the element known to its bearers:

Cheesemaking in the Cyclades

b. Other denomination(s):

Traditional cheesemaking of the Cyclades, Cycladic cheeses, Cycladic cheese

c. Brief description (Up to 100 words):

Cheesemaking in the Cyclades is closely linked to the need for food self-reliance and the use of natural resources and climate for ageing and storing dairy products. The cheese production process in the Cyclades is closely tied to the local environment and traditional methods. Currently, people in the Cyclades produce cheese either at home or in modern cheesemaking facilities. They use the dry north wind and sunlight, along with salt, seawater, natural caves, pottery containers, animal hides, watermelons, olive oil, and wine sediments. Each island in the archipelago produces significant cheeses and dairy products that reflect the islanders’ connection to their cultural surroundings. These products come from dairy-making traditions, knowledge, and techniques that have been passed down through generations.

d. Field of Intangible Cultural Heritage

□  Oral traditions and expressions (e.g. myths, tales, story-telling etc.)

□   Performing arts (e.g. folk theatre, music, dance etc.)

□  Social practices, rituals and festive events (e.g. Fairs, festive events, celebrations, festivals etc.)

Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe (e.g., practices for managing natural resources, such as water, etc.)

√ Knowledge related to traditional craftsmanship (e.g. traditional arts and professions, such as pottery etc.)

√ Agrifood traditions, habits and practices

 e. Area where the element is found (100 words):

Cycladic cheeses are produced in the secondary sector on all inhabited Cyclades islands and even some with no permanent residents. Formerly produced for personal consumption, cheese is now sold retail or wholesale and is produced by domestic farms, organised dairies and cottage industries. Cheesemaking is found on the following islands:

Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Donousa, Iraklia, Thirasia, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Koufonisi, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rinia, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinis, Sifnos, Syros, Schinousa, Tinos and Folegandros.

f. Key words (50 words):

Cycladic cheese, Cycladic cuisine, Cycladic cheesemaking,  cheese, cheesemaking, anthotyro (flowery cheese), axialomyzithra, armexia (milk), arseniko (masculine), afromyzithra (foamy mythithra), volaki (small ball), graviera (gruyere), zymithra, imichloro (semi-cured), thilikotyri (feminine cheese), kariki, kefalotyri (head-cheese), kopanisti (beaten), krasotyri (wine cheese), ladotyri (oil cheese), malathouni (basket), malachto (soft), manoura, melichloro (semi-cured), mileiko (from Milos), myzithra, myzithra tou laina (Laina’s myzithra), myzithra tou charaniou (brass pot myzithra), niari (young), xinomyzithra (sour myzithra), xinotyro (sour cheese), petroma (stone), San Michali, skotyri (windbag), touloumotyri (goat hide cheese), tyri tou lakkoy (cave cheese), tyrovolia (basket cheese), souroto (strained), trimma (grated).

  1. Identity of the bearer of the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage
    a.Who is/are the bearer(s) of the element? (200 words)

The community of tradition bearers includes all those who practice the cheesemaking traditions of the Cyclades, who enjoy the products of Cycladic cheesemaking, and who create new products based on Cycladic cheeses, “which still reach our table and resonate with our emotions and the most refined pleasures our souls can enjoy, and are enjoyed beyond their inherent nutritional value and their succulence” (Tziotis, n.d.). The community of tradition bearers also includes:

  • farmers, who in the Cyclades are also shepherds;
  • rural women, who are mainly the ones who make cheese at home and preserve traditional recipes;
  • those who serve food, whether traditional Cycladic cuisine or modern gastronomy, which is often inspired by traditional Cycladic cuisine;
  • those involved in catering for tourism; consumers, especially those who regularly seek out rare and special local cheeses;
  • the people of the Cyclades themselves, both the islanders and those in the diaspora, who choose special local cheeses for their daily diet, pies, and other dishes, making sure to often purchase them directly from the producers;
  • the agricultural cooperatives, the Cyclades Chamber, and the members of the Aegean Cuisine network, an initiative to promote the wine and gastronomic tradition of the South Aegean.

 b. Contact details

Name of Entity: Cyclades Chamber

Address: Apollonos and Ladopoulou, Ermoupoli, Syros

Postcode: 84100

Tel.  +30 22810 82346      


url/ siteweb:

c. Additional information about the element:

Person in charge

Name: Dimitris Rousounelos

Capacity: writer, taste hunter, taste researcher.


  1. Detailed description of the Intangible Cultural Heritage element as it is found today (between 500 and 1000 words)

Due to their unique geographical composition, the Cyclades form a distinctive cultural stronghold that is both self-contained and receptive to outside influences. As a result, they have developed specific practices and products adapted to and exploiting the resources of their environment in areas such as cheesemaking, architecture, music and agriculture. Tourism has had an impact on cheesemaking in recent decades. However, it is noteworthy that formerly rural families now involved in tourism continue to maintain the family tradition of shepherding and cheesemaking, even on the most visited islands such as Mykonos (Nazou, 2003), where they proudly offer their homemade cheeses for breakfast in the hotels and other businesses they run. Alongside traditional (domestic) Cycladic cheesemaking, there are small dairies as well as larger cheesemaking units that meet modern standards. The islands’ new dairies rely heavily on young farmers, typically second or third generation shepherds and cheesemakers. These individuals pursue personal or familial aspirations, drawing on decades of family experience or the knowledge they acquire at the Dairy School of Ioannina.

The Cyclades Chamber has documented around 100 cheeses produced on the islands in the book Tou anemou kai tis armyras (Of Wind and Brine). Although many have similar names, these are cheeses that differ in terms of production method, type of milk used, texture, taste, and ageing. Some cheeses are produced on different islands with the same or different names. Above all, differences highlight the rich flavours, ingenuity, and use of the peculiarities of each place for cheese production.

Cheesemaking—the curdling of milk—in the Cyclades involves a set of techniques and cultural practices that have been passed down for generations over the centuries. Before the 1960s, households curdled milk using material from the stomach (prostomacho, as it is known on the islands) of suckling lambs and goats until industrial rennet became available. Women often make the cheese, while men focus on grazing, milking, and tending to the flock. However, roles can be reversed or complementary, and the entire family is often involved in all stages.

Knowing how to manage livestock and knowing the potential of the land is essential. Islanders often have multiple roles. They may be farmers, shepherds, cheesemakers, builders, and sometimes amateur fishermen and owners of small rental businesses. The cheesemaker knows from experience that the first tender grass, known as xydaki or oxalida, has little body and substance. For this reason, he chooses to produce his best cheeses after Lent, in March, April, and May when the plants are ripe with stalks, full leaves, and fruits. As the saying goes: “If you want to make good cheese, do it during Lent”. This is also when the milk is of better quality.

In Mykonos, for example, shepherds know from experience that in areas such as Kountouros, Kounoupa, and Morergo, there is vegetation with branches such as carob trees, thyme, spiny broom, mastic, pink savoury, etc., where, in the Spring, the animals feed on the most suitable food: tender shoots and flowers. When they are close to the sea, “they prefer to eat rocky vegetation. Sometimes they even lick the rock itself” to enjoy the taste of salt and to meet their nutritional needs. Feeding on grass near the sea results in better quality meat, milk, butter, and cheese.

The Kea cheesemaker takes pride in his xerotyri (dry cheese), which he produces from January to May when his animals graze outdoors. He also makes fresh cheese in the spring. For his kefalotyri and graviera cheeses, he uses milk collected from June to August when the animals are fed on fodder. Until 2000, Kea’s dairy sector was thriving thanks to the quality, knowledge and smart management of its farmers. Twice a week, large dairies came to Kea to collect 15 tons of milk. At that time, each farming family owned around 15 cows.

The shepherd on Ios moves his herd from the south to the north around April and back in September to spend the winter months with his animals in the south of the island.

It is worth mentioning a testimony about environmental respect and sustainability. Before the 1970s, three professional cheesemakers in Kea would curdle sheep’s milk (baski) in Kato Meria (Atzeritis Due to a lack of water, they would transport it to Ioulida to make kasseri cheese. However, modern investors, regardless of whether their swimming pools deplete the area’s water reserves, will build their hotels in the most desirable locations.

The Cyclades are small islands, so islanders know who the best cheesemakers are. Cheese-lovers often have direct contact with certain farming families and buy the cheeses directly from the producers. This allows them to enjoy rare cheeses, with exquisite aromas, properly matured, adequately exposed to the caress of the north wind, and to the right amount of sunlight—a very small but vital amount.

The islanders are aware that cheese is highly valued as a gift. Therefore, it is one of the local products that people bring when visiting friends and relatives outside the island. They also send it to those who have moved abroad.

In Orthodox Christianity, cheese is associated with two celebrations. The first is Tyrini (cheese week), which occurs just before the Great Lent. In the Cyclades, pasta with grated cheese and various local pies are the main dishes. The second celebration is the Feast of the Ascension, which used to be very important for shepherds. Today, it is only celebrated in a few sheepfolds. On that day, known as Plitheri (the day of abundance), the shepherds in the mountains of Naxos offer xyala or glykyala (a very fresh and refreshing cream cheese) to the children who visit their fold. In return, the children offer the shepherds gifts such as sardines, coffee and cigarettes. Pletheri was one of the celebrations that “exalted the communitarian spirit and social solidarity” (Vasilas, 2018:109).


  1. Space, facilities, and equipment associated with the performance/exercise of the Intangible Cultural Heritage element

In the Cyclades, the art of cheesemaking continues to thrive in small, family-run businesses. Traditionally, farmers and shepherds make their own cheeses (mainly from unpasteurised sheep’s and goat’s milk, but often also from cow’s milk). These cheeses are famous for their exceptional taste. However, their production is decreasing every year. Due to diminishing local commitment and other factors, historically rare cheeses are now in danger of disappearing.

The Cycladic method of cheesemaking at home is a historic practice that continues to use unpasteurised milk. It is usually conducted in small cheese caves (tyrokomioi) located near  where the herds are milked or in specific spaces within rural homes. Home cheesemaking is frequently done in main or auxiliary kitchens, storage areas, and semi-outdoor spaces.

Only the small artisanal units that are officially on the market tend to have more organised spaces for producing, maturing and preserving cheese.

The larger, more modern cheesemaking units follow the basic traditional processes and produce cheeses that, although based on tradition, leave their own cultural imprint on the islands with new creations.

Cheesemaking spaces are guided by principles such as cleanliness, efficient use of the local climate and adherence to the tradition of maturing and storing cheese in specialised rooms equipped with traditional containers and tools such as milking vats, wooden basins, bags, cheese moulds, clay pots and lanterns.

The archives of the Cyclades Chamber list 17 cheesemaking units as members of the Aegean Cuisine network, out of a total of at least 30 units operating on the islands. All units comply with modern food safety and hygiene regulations, including HASP and ISO. Some follow strict rules that grant them the right to produce Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses, such as Kopanisti of the Cyclades, Naxos Graviera, Arseniko, and San Michali of Syros.

These units supply the island’s restaurants with Cycladic cheeses of exceptional taste and quality. Some of them even distribute their products nationally.


  1. Products or associated tangible elements resulting from the practice of the Intangible Cultural Heritage element
    a.Main products

The main cheeses produced in the Cyclades are the following:


Athotyra in Sifnos, anthotyro in Anafi, Mykonos, (anthotyros) in Paros, (or thilikotyri) in Naxos, antristis (fresh anthotyro) in Sifnos, axialomyzithra in Donousa, armexia in Andros, arseniko in Naxos, afotyria in Milos


volaki (and stroggily) in Tinos, (or kalathaki) in Andros


vrasto in Mykonos, Anafi


graviera in Naxos, Tinos, Syros, Mykonos, Ios, Paros, Andros


imichloro in Kimolos


kariki (trachilas) in Tinos, kefalotyri in Paros, Anafi, Donousa, (or niotiko tyri) in Ios, kommos in Naxos, kopanisti in Mykonos, Tinos, Syros, Naxos, Kythnos, Kea, Amorgos, Irakleia, Schinoussa, krasotyri in Andros, (or melanotyri) in Naxos, ladotyri in Paros, Amorgos, Andros, Donousa, Anafi, Antiparos, Sikinos


malathouni in Tinos, malaka in Amorgos and Irakleia, malako or malachto in Andros, manoura in Sifnos, Kimolos, (or xiro miliko) in Milos, manoura gylomeni in Sifnos, manouri in Folegandros, (or freskia manoura) in Kimolos, manouri gyloto or gylomeno in Folegandros, manousos (or touloumaki) in Andros, melichloro in Sikinos, Folegandros and (the medium aged manoura) in Sifnos, myzithra in Kimolos, Paros, Folegandros, (or glykia myzithra or afromyzithra) in Naxos, myzithra tou laina in Serifos, myzithra tou charaniou (or myzithra piperati) in Serifos,


niari in Mykonos


xerotyri in Kea, Milos, Paros, xero in Folegandros, xino in Kythnos, Kea, Kimolos, Antiparos, xinomyzithra in Milos, Irakleia, Koufonisia, Schinoussa, Amorgos, Serifos, xinotyri (or xinomyzithra) in Sifnos, Mykonos, Syros, Schinoussa, Amorgos, Naxos, xino tyrο in Mykonos, xyalo tyro in Anafi,


petroma in Tinos, petroti in Andros


San Michali in Syros, sikiniotiko tyri (skliri manoura) in Sikinos, skliro in Irakleia, Amorgos (where it is also called amorgiano), skotyri in Ios, souroma in Paros, souroto in Folegandros


touloumotyri in Antiparos, Kea, Naxos, (or touloumisiotouloumaki in a small animal’s skin sack from ) in Paros, (and skotyri) in Ios, Milos), tyri tis bournias in Andros, tyri tou lakkou (or moschotyri) in Serifos, tyrovoli (the kefalotyri) in North Kythnos, tyrovolia in Mykonos and Syros, trimma or triftis or zymoto in Kythnos, tsimiskaki in Naxos


flega in Kea


chlοrο in Kea or chlοrοtyri in Santorini, chloromanoura (the four day manoura) in Sifnos, chima (or analati) in Tinos


It should be noted that during the first step of cheesemaking, curdling milk produces xinoalo (Mykonos, Antiparos) or xyali (Anafi) or axyali.

Sometimes cheese names are changed for commercial reasons. For instance, kopanisti is a cheese that was named as such in the 20th century. Prior to that, it was referred to as palea (old) myzithra or zymithra, myzithra in Mykonos. In Tinos, it is also known as kaftiri (hot) myzithra, tyri tis bournias or patito or patomeno tyri tis bournias in Andros, and so on.

For the same reasons, recently, xino in Kea has become tyros.

In some islands, the same cheese may have different names from village to village, region to region, or even among different Orthodox and Catholic communities.

The cheese called xino in the Chora of Kythnos, is called analato (unsalted) or fresko (fresh) in Dryopida

Kythno’s trimma is known as zymoto (fermented) on the island’s Chora.

In Tinos, there was a tradition of classifying cheeses into the following categories:

Cheese that are called stroggyla (round) or bales (balls), are shaped round and hung in the drosio, a well-ventilated and shaded place, wrapped in cloth to drain moisture. If a wider shape is desired, the cheese can be flattened by pressing with a plate before hanging.

The sklavotira of Falatados, including the subtypes tyrovolia and t’s apaggelias, are produced similarly to round cheeses. However, instead of being wrapped in cloth, they are placed in regular (kalathounia, pl.) or larger baskets  (malathounia, pl.). Tyrovoli is produced using a malathouni (sg.) with a wide base, while cheese t’s apaggelias is produced using a malathouni with a round base.

There are cheeses that are re-boiled after the curdling, and placed in small baskets, where they are salted. Those are known as tyrakia vrasta or kalathata.

Myzithra or kopanisti ripens in small or large ceramic containers, called zares in Mesa Meria, and glynera in Exo Meria (Florakis, 1971: 121).

During the fermentation process of kopanisti, its temperature increases. In Tinos, it is said that “it gets angry and gets done”, while in Mykonos, they say that “kopanisti gets fiercer as it ages”.

Skliro is a type of hard cheese (kefalotyri) that is found on several islands and is similar to the arseniko of Naxos.

Ladotyria (oil cheeses) are cheeses placed in containers filled with oil for protection and maturation. On some islands they use kefalotyri, while on onthers they use graviera to make them.

Feta-type cheese is traditionally produced on several islands using different types of milk and under different names. For example, on Kea, it has been produced under the name flega since the beginning of the 20th century. On Mykonos, it has been produced without a specific name since the end of the Second World War, and more recently on Kythnos.

There are cheeses that have been around for a long time but have only recently become known to us. One such cheese is kariki, which is found in Tinos. It was previously unknown to many, even on the island itself, but has now gained a reputation as one of the most unique Cycladic cheeses. Tinos has given us a cheese that has a distinct local identity, but is also very European, similar to a combination of stilton, gorgonzola, roquefort and gruyere. That is to say, 4 in 1. Previously, an artisanal cheese dairy in the Tsinikias area of Tinos produced kariki. There are now two cheese dairies on  Tinos that produce kariki from pasteurised cow’s milk. Additionally, there is at least one restaurant on the island that offers its own production of kariki.

Nowadays, cheeses that were once considered unfinished products are sold as finished cheeses under their traditional names. For example, niari from Mykonos once referred to young, “immature” kopanisti popular because it hadn’t had time to become “fierce”, in other words, as  pungent as its well-aged homemade version. A cheese dairy in Mykonos launched the product just four years ago.

One year around Easter time on Ios, demand for the classic myzithra cheese made from whey and milk mixture peaked. To meet this demand, a cheese dairy processed a large quantity of milk by combining goat, sheep, and cow milk in the same vat. The resulting cheese needed to mature in molds. After a few months of tasting and tweaking the recipe, the cheese was matured for 10-12 months, resulting in a cheese with the imaginative name of Trilogia Omirou (Homer’s Trilogy).

On Kythnos, there is a type of cheese that is rarely consumed. Its sole purpose is to be mixed with xino and incorporated to the trimma to obtain sufficient quantities.

There are also cheeses that result from mistakes, like Delian Blue, a type of blue cheese that came from misshapen kopanisti in Mykonos. Two sacks had developed characteristic blue mould veins (which are not desirable in this specific cheese). They were discarded in a corner of the cheese dairy, ready to be thrown to chickens and pigs, when a cheese enthusiast discovered them in May 2019. He knelt, tasted, and asked others for their opinion, and slowly, through experimentation and know-how, the “mistake” was conquered and the progressing blue mould was stabilised, resulting in a cheese that captures the essence of the Cyclades. The cheese is indeed new, but it has emerged through tradition and retains the basic elements of aroma and flavor of kopanisti.

The examples above support the idea that tradition is not stale, but “a rolling stone,” a dynamic force that, when respected and understood, can blossom and offer new aromas. (Rousounelos, D. 12/2018, Gastronomos magazine, vol. 152)

b. Secondary products

The use of cheese in traditional and contemporary Cycladic cuisine is significant for nutrition, economy, and culture. Local cheeses, mainly white but also fresh yellow and even hard cheeses, are used in dishes and preparations such as karpouzenia (watermelon pie), tyrenia (cheese pie), kremmydopita (onion pie), mostra (rusk) with kopanisti, kritharokouloura (barley rolls) with tomato and xino, sfougato (an oven-baked omelette), galahtia or tyrogali (whey cheese), pitarakia (small cheese pies), lambriatis (stuffed lamb or goat), melitinia (honey and myzythra pies), skaltsoynia (cheese, nut and honey pies) and melopita (a type of flan with anthotyro and honey).

A cheese dairy in Mykonos is open to visitors and offers a sample of whey with dill as a welcome drink.

In the Cyclades, many cheese dairies use whey cheese as animal feed for their own herds or those of others. Traditionally, it was even mixed with pig feed.

In 2019, sour whey from unpasteurised Mykonian milk was successfully used for the experimental production of “sour beer” at the island’s microbrewery.

Fashion designers, such as Fai Chatzis, have recorded the production of fashion accessories using cheese baskets.


  1. Historical data on the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage (up to 700 words)

The historical journey of Cycladic cheesemaking begins on the highest peak of the Cyclades (1004m), Mount Zas of Naxos, where, according to an ancient inscription, it is known as MOUNT OF ZEUS OF THE HERDS, indicating that Zeus was worshipped there as the guardian of sheep herds .

Historical references to Cycladic cheesemaking are scarce but significant. The earliest surviving mention is from Laertius, who notes (10,6) that “Epicurus brought Kythnian cheese to his table when he wanted to eat more luxuriously, and said ‘send me some Kythnian cheese so that I may eat luxuriously when I want to’” (Miliarakis, 1991:45). In addition, the neighbouring island of Kea was also famous for its cheese, as noted in Aelian’s On Animals (16, 32). Lacking good pasture to feed the animals, they resorted to using a mixture of olive leaves, alfalfa and legume straw, similar to that used by the Kythnians, which resulted in producing high quality milk which was then used to make the famous Kythnian cheese (Miliarakis, 1991:47, 48).  Consequently, the term “Kythnian cheese” came to be synonymous with a specific type of island cheese. If the information from Kythnos is correct, then Kythnian cheese is identical to modern-day trimma (also called trifti or zymoto) (Venentoulias, 2011). Thus, it was probably a type of strained, matured, salted, fermented xinomyzithra/tyrovolia/xino/petroma/armexia. In other words, it was produced in a similar way to today’s mild Cycladic kopanisti, or as it is called on some islands, myzithra (old or relatively tangy).

Travellers who visited the Cyclades tended to praise local cheeses. Pitton de Tournerfort, among others, singled out the cheeses of Milos, Naxos and Mykonos. Writing about Mykonos in 1700, he noted: «le fromage mou[1] qu’ on prépare en cette Isle est délicieux;» (the soft cheese made on this island is delicious). About a hundred years later, Markakis Zalonis used the same words, again in French, to refer to the “fromage mou” of Tinos, adding that it was a very tangy cheese: «du fromage frais, du fromage mou, plus fort et plus piquant au goût que celui de Roquefort vieux ou de Géromé» (fresh cheese, soft cheese, with a stronger and sharper taste than old Roquefort or Géromé). Shortly afterwards, the author explains that it is called myzithra. «La nourriture des enfants consiste le matin en un morceau de pain d’orge avec du fromage mou du pays lequel est très piquant sur la langue appelé misithra» (the children’s breakfast consists of barley bread with soft local cheese, which is very tangy on the tongue and is called misithra).

In 1947, the renowned architect Aris Konstantinidis noted that: “anyone who spends a few days on the island of Mykonos will experience other pleasures, delicacies, and treats, such as the delicious pork and the tasty cheese, kopanisti, which is called niari when it is fresh (Konstantinidis, 1947).

The Cyclades also have a long-standing tradition in producing cow cheese. Tinos, Andros, Naxos, and other islands were ruled by the Franks and Venetians for an extended period. Historical accounts suggest that the Frankish and Venetian monks and notables of the islands imported cows primarily as pack animals and for various tasks on the estates. Some even used them for milking. However, dairy farming with cows or mixed milk did not begin until the 20th century. In Syros for instance: “improved breeds of dairy cows arrived in the 1960s, thanks to the persistence and efforts of the then state veterinarian Antonis Tsipourakis” (Dareioti, Tsichlaki, Androulidakis, 2015). The systematic importation of dairy cows to Naxos began during the 1950s.

It is worth mentioning that two breeds of cows, one from Tinos and the other from Kea, have disappeared in the course of time due to the “improvements” made.

Cheesemaking in the Cyclades was transformed when the traditional use of animal rennet was replaced by industrial rennet, which happened later than in other regions of Greece. The second major change was the introduction of pasteurised milk. The Cyclades’ dedication to cheesemaking reached its most recent milestone with the establishment of the first organised cheese dairies on Naxos in 1961, Syros in 1964, Tinos in 1981, Ios in 2007, then Mykonos etc.

In recent years, Cycladic cheesemaking has significantly diminished or ceased due to economic factors such as inward and outward migration and successive economic crises.

Tourism has had a mixed impact on Cycladic cheesemaking. While it initially hindered its development, in recent years it has contributed to its revival. Significant dairy units have been established, and new investors, who are descendants of shepherds, have chosen to invest differently, breaking away from the tourist industry monopoly. They have identified products that were about to disappear and have improved the conditions of production in order to participate actively in the tourist market of the Cyclades and beyond.



  1. The significance of the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage today
    a. What is the significance of the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage for its bearers? (between 100 and 300 words)

Cheese has always been a hallmark of the Cycladic diet, contributing to good health and tasty meals (breakfast, snacks, appetizers, dinner, street food, sandwiches). It is enjoyed in various forms, not only in pies, and in the numerous home recipes including cheese. In Tinos, for example, some people enjoy their Greek coffee with kopanisti, while in Ano Mera on Mykonos, aged xinotyro is often served with Greek coffee in the afternoon. In Milos, sage tea and pennyrile tea are served with ladotyri. In Folegandros, dried gylomeno cheese is not refrigerated. It is usually kept on the kitchen table, covered with a towel, with a knife beside it. In Tinos, a rare dish is made using the very dry malathouni cheese, which is boiled whole with onions, carrots, potatoes, and other seasonal vegetables, and then sliced for serving. This dish is often served with fish.

The residents of the Cyclades value the distinct cheeses produced on each island. This has fostered commercial and social connections between the islands, which have persisted despite challenging circumstances. Cheese production has played a crucial role in enhancing social unity in this exceptional group of islands.

Cheese holds a significant place in the taste memories of those residing in the Cyclades. It is not merely a source of nourishment and satiety, but also a crucial element that embodies the flavour of our islands, along with wine, cured meats, honey, herbs, and spices. We hope guests will carry these items in their bags as keepsakes and recollections. Tourism growth in the Cyclades provides this potential. Efforts that prioritise high-quality local products such as cheese, wine, and fresh seasonal vegetables have enduring appeal, are appreciated by a niche audience, acknowledged by both Greek and worldwide media, and receive notable awards. Cycladic gastronomy is available here. It is based on traditional home cooking, where cheese serves as a key element reflecting Greek and Cycladic identity in a challenging global setting.

b. What is the significance of the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage for contemporary Greek society? (between 100 and 200 words)

Greek gastronomy is shaped by dietary habits established across the country, as well as by elements from local cuisines and regional products.

Cheesemaking in the Cyclades is a significant and distinctive aspect of Aegean gastronomy. The region boasts four PDO cheeses, Cycladic kopanisti, San Michali of Syros, Naxian graviera and arseniko, as well as other local cheeses. These cheeses are now readily available not only in specialized delicatessens but also in every food store, reflecting the growing demand. The inclusion of Cycladic cheeses in the menus of restaurants all over Greece is increasing, and the inclusion of these excellent cheeses in the cheese platters offered in restaurants, bars, hotels and at events is essential to the essence and variety of these cheeses.

The promotion of Cycladic cheeses and dairy products is expected to increase the interest of Greek consumers in local cheeses, which have not been widely known until now. This is particularly relevant given the recent inclusion of Cycladic cheesemaking in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece. It is important to highlight their quality, rare flavours and unique traditional cheesemaking methods. Cheese enthusiasts seek more than just any graviera cheese. They want a graviera that can transport them to the dry stone walls of the Aegean and evoke memories of  “the mill sail, the plough, the curd, the bucket, the goat, the radish and the sun-dried tomato” (Mamalakis and Rousounelos, 2015).

c. Was the commmunity involved in preparing the registration of the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the National Inventory, and if so, how? (between 200 and 300 words)

The record was prepared with the participation of institutional bodies, citizens, researchers, and professionals from various Cycladic islands. The Cyclades Chamber also organized a meeting for community bodies to exchange information and opinions. The meeting took place in a hybrid format, with participants attending both physically in the conference room of the Cyclades Chamber in Syros and online via the Chamber’s teleconferencing system. This enabled simultaneous participation and interaction from all 24 islands of the Cyclades.

The record was completed with the participation of the following individuals who provided documentation in various ways:

The Cyclades Chamber, Tinos Food Paths, Mykonos Gastronomy Club, Delicious Milos.


Cheese dairies/cheesemakers: Giannis Peris-Tyrosyra (Syros), Syrianos Georgios-Mykonos Farmers (Mykonos), Katerina Moschou-Parion (Paros), Alexandros Mykoniatis-Tyrakeion (Kea), Vidali L.-Madalena (Tinos), Vlavianos Georgios (Amorgos), Sideris Dimitris (Folegandros), Pittaras Nikolaos (Naxos), Dimitris Zakhaeos and Elena Zakhaeou (Ios).


Restaurants/cooks: Vassilas Giannis (Naxos), Gavalas Giannis (Heraklia), Giginis Dimitris (Andros), Alvertis Kostas, Souranis Marinos, Psalti Antonis, Zarpa Antonia (Tinos), Papikinos Vasilis (Milos), Venieris Georgios (cook and Deputy Mayor of Culture in Folegandros), Zouganeli Eirini (Mykonos).


Researchers, cheese enthusiasts: Alekos Florakis, folklorist-writer (Tinos), Frangiskos Michail (Naxos), Antonis Alvertis, student (Tinos), Palamaris Markos, teacher (Tinos), Antonios Tziotis, philologist, Georgios Rozos, state veterinarian of the South Aegean Region, lecturer at the University of Macedonia, Nikoleta Makryonitou, taste journalist (Syros), Alexandra Mega, director of the Dairy School of Ioannina.


  1. Preservation and Promotion of the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage
    a. How is the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage transmitted to younger generations today? (between 200 and 300 words)

Empirical techniques and cheesemaking knowledge are traditionally transmitted orally and through practical experience in the dairy. As the oral research reveals, this knowledge is typically passed from elders to younger generations, such as grandparents and parents, who pass on their knowledge to their children and grandchildren, as well as to other relatives and members of the wider community. The knowledge covers pasture management, disease prevention and identification, rearing, milk production, and all stages of cheese production. It also includes cheese tasting, recognising its characteristics, sharing memories and tastes, preparing cheese-based dishes, and passing on the importance of cheese as a gift. All these experiences are recorded in the collective memory as lived experiences that can be passed on in practice.

In certain islands, gastronomic activities involve demonstrations of traditional cheesemaking[2], visits by cheesemakers and chefs to schools, and student visits to workplaces related to cheesemaking and nutrition.

Today, many cheesemakers on the islands are young people who own their family cheese dairies. They are the bearers of family tradition and knowledge gained from systematic studies of cheesemaking, mainly at the Dairy School of Ioannina. The results are positive, with the only significant difference being the use of pasteurised milk, which may impact the taste or memory of the taste enjoyed in the past.

To create competitive and marketable modern cheeses, it is essential to draw inspiration from tradition and use it as a solid starting point. Incorporating knowledge to complement and facilitate experimentation is also crucial. This can be achieved through exchanging information and seeking assistance from experienced cheesemakers, as well as conducting research in literature and other sources of information.


b. Measures for the preservation and promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage element that have been taken in the past or that are being implemented today (on a local, regional, or broader scale) (between 200 and 300 words)

The recognition of local cheeses as PDOs (Protected Designations of Origin), such as kopanisti from the Cyclades, graviera and arseniko from Naxos and San Michali from Syros, is raising the reputation and profile of Cycladic cheeses. The recent legislation allowing the production of cheese from unpasteurised milk is a positive step. However, the lack of infrastructure for milk laboratory tests renders this somewhat ineffective, particularly for small-scale producers on the islands.

It is widely expected that the recent (December 28, 2023) establishment of rules[3]  for visiting cheese dairies with a GNTO (Greek National Tourism Organisation) label will to contribute to the promotion of local cheese production.

Local chefs play an crucial role in the South Aegean Region’s programmes, whether they are cooking abroad or participating in organized presentations of creative dishes featuring Cycladic cheeses and other local products.

Eighteen producers across nine islands have registered 108 cheeses and 7 other dairy products in the “Aegean Cuisine Recommended Products”. This is a significant move to showcase the character and quality of Cycladic dairy products.

The Greek Breakfast initiative of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels has raised hopes for highlighting local products, especially cheeses and dairy products, which are essential for the preparation of a breakfast meal. The initiative was launched with the help of the community directly concerned, including producers and local collectives, who gave it both soul and substance. However, the vast majority of hoteliers did not follow through. But the effort is worthwhile: with a different approach, a better structure and formula, we can encourage greater participation and highlight the importance of local products in Greek breakfast.

In addition to the preservation measures mentioned, there have been several efforts to promote Cycladic cheesemaking, including the production of relevant television programmes. For instance:

– The television programme Boukia kai Syghorio (A Pardon for a Bite) aired on Mega Channel and was hosted by Ilias Mamalakis. The show focused on local cuisine and products, with a particular emphasis on cheese, and ran for several years. Some episodes are still broadcast in reruns.

– The programme “PDO Cooking” on ET1, formerly with Manolis Papoutsakis and now with Andreas Lagos, is a practical introduction to local cheeses with a protected designation of origin.

– The documentary series “Local Cuisines” by Eleni Psyhouli, which aired on ERT2, provides an excellent record of cheesemaking in Naxos  and beyond.

c. Proposed measures for preservation and promotion to be implemented in the future (on a local, regional, or broader scale) (between 300 and 500 words)

Farmers are leaving the primary sector for various reasons. These include the economic crisis, rising prices for electricity, fuel, feed, and fertiliser, as well as health problems and fatigue. As a result, shepherding is declining, and traditional cheeses are at risk of disappearing. When a farmer or cheesemaker passes away, they take with them a small or large, but undoubtedly irreplaceable, joy for the lovers of unique cheeses.

To preserve traditional cheesemaking, measures should aim to protect our cheesemaking heritage and enhance or protect local products. This could include reducing the objective values of agricultural land and reinstating the low VAT regime due to island status.

Cheesemaking in the Cyclades is entirely compatible with animal welfare policy, but it must take into account the specific conditions of the Cycladic islands, such as the configuration of the land, the specific crops, the protected dry-stone terraces and the terrain.

Shephers created a network of paths for other shepherds and their animals, which are now also used by tourists. It is crucial to preserve these paths for their historical and cultural value.

The Aegean Cuisine Network has identified 108 cheeses from 18 producers across 9 Cycladic islands. Local producers have received significant support from the South Aegean Region to participate in trade shows, promoting the islands’ cheesemaking and the potential of Cycladic cheeses. A battle is being fought in Greece, where Greek and, by extension, Cycladic cheese face tough competition from cheap imports.

What do we want today?

– Experienced chefs who are well-versed in contemporary methods and who also honour tradition.

– Entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, hoteliers, and producers who think with an open mind, without devaluing our timeless dietary habits.

– A discerning audience, willing to appreciate and pay for the quality and exclusivity of products and dishes originating from a location with distinctive agricultural, productive, climatic, geographical, and economic features.

An entity that could host events around wine and cheese would benefit many. Wine and cheese are highly regarded products that have been increasing in popularity in recent years. Hosting events is also a great way to engage with customers.

Preserving the knowledge and experience of collectives is crucial. Several initiatives, including Tinos Food Paths, Taste of Mykonos, Delicious Milos, and actions in Santorini led by the late George Hatzigiannakis, Syros Greatings, the Cycladic Gastronomy Festival ‘Nikolaos Tselementes’ in Sifnos, and the Naxos Graviera Festival, serve as a legacy and guide for a new era.

In conclusion, the legal framework now exists to preserve the wealth of experience and techniques of cheesemaking and maturing unpasteurised cheeses, even on a limited production scale.

Local cheese is an essential component of the gastronomic and dietary traditions of the Cyclades. The Italians have a saying: ‘Una tavola senza formaggio è una tavola senza radici culturali‘ (A table without cheese is a table without cultural roots).  To highlight the significance of our local cheeses, we could adopt the following motto, inspired by the Italian saying: ‘An island without cheese is an island cut off from its cultural roots.’


  1. Main Bibliography

Ανυφαντάκης, Εμ. (1998), Ελληνικά Τυριά. Μια παράδοση αιώνων, Αθήνα: Εθνική Επιτροπή Γάλακτος Ελλάδος. / Anifantakis, Em. (1998), Greek Cheeses. A Centuries-Old Tradition, Athens: National Dairy Committee of Greece.


Βάσιλας, Γ. (2018), Γύρω από τη μαρμίτα της Αξιώτισσας, Νάξος: αυτοέκδοση / Vasilas, G. (2018), Around Axiotissa’s Pot, Naxos: self-published


Βενάρδου, Φ. (2001), Η κουζίνα της Κιμώλου, Αθήνα: Στάχυ / Venardou, F. (2001), The Cuisine of Kimolos, Athens: Stachy


Βενετούλιας, Γ. (2011), Το μυριστικό κυδώνι, η παραδοσιακή κουζίνα της Κύθνου, Αθήνα: Εν πλώ / Venetoulias, G. (2011), The Fragrant Quince. The Traditional Cuisine of Kythnos, Athens: En Plo

Γιακουμάκη, Β. (2006), Περί (Δια)τροφής και Εθνικής Ταυτότητας. Οι διαστάσεις μιας νέας «πολιτισμικής ποικιλότητας» στη σημερινή Ελλάδα, στο Ευθύμιος Παπαταξιάρχης (επιμ.), Περιπέτειες της Ετερότητας – Η παραγωγή της πολιτισμικής διαφοράς στη σημερινή Ελλάδα, Αθήνα: Αλεξάνδρεια. / Giakoumaki, V. (2006),About Food, Nutrition and National Identity. The dimensions of a new “cultural diversity” in today’s Greece”, in Efthymios Papataxiarchis (ed.), Adventures of Otherness—The production of cultural difference in today’s Greece, Athens: Alexandria.


Dalby, A. (2000) Σειρήνεια δείπνα, Ιστορία της διατροφής και της γαστρονομίας στην Ελλάδα, Ηράκλειο: Πανεπιστημιακές Εκδόσεις Κρήτης. / Dalby, A. (2000) Siren Feasts, A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece, Heraklion: Crete University Press.


Δαρειώτη, Ν., Τσιχλάκη, Θ., Ανδρουλιδάκης, Α. (2015), Του άνεμου και της αρμύρας, Σύρος: ΕΤΑΠ Κυκλάδων, Επιμελητήριο Κυκλάδων / Dareioti, N., Tsihlaki, Th., Androulidaki, A. (2015), Of Wind and Brine, Syros: ETAP Cyclades, Cyclades Chamber.


Δελατόλα-Φωσκόλου, Ν. (2006) Κυκλάδων γεύσεις, Τήνος: αυτοέκδοση / Delatola-Foskolou, N. (2006) Tastes of the Cyclades, Tinos: self-published


Δημητριάδου, Ρ. (1911) Το γάλα, Εν Αθήναις: Σύλλογος προς διάδοσιν ωφελίμων βιβλίων. / Dimitriadou, R. (1911) Milk, En Athinais: Society for the Spread of Useful Books.


Zallony, Marcaky (1809) Voyage a Tine, l’une des îles de l’Archipel de la Gréce, Paris Τόμος 1

Ζευγώλης, Γ. (1953) Ποιμενικά της Ορεινής Νάξου, Λαογραφία/Δελτίο της Ελληνικής Λαογραφικής Εταιρίας, τόμος ΙΕ’. / Zeugolis, G. (1953) Pastoral Life in the Mountains of Naxos, Folklore/Record of the Greek Folklore Society, volume IE’.


Καβρουλάκη, Μ. (2011) Η γλώσσα της γεύσης, Αθήνα: asprimera publications / Kavroulaki, M. (2011) The Language of Taste, Athens: asprimera publications


Κουσαθανάς, Π. (2010) Μυζήθρα, ζυμήθρα (ένα αληθινό παραμύθι) Αθήνα: Κ.Δ.Ε.Π.Α.Μυκόνου, Εκδ. Στεφανίδη / Kousathanas, P. (2010) Myzithra, zymithra (a true fairy tale) Athens: The Municipal Public Utility Company focuses for the Environment, Education, and Development of Mykonos, Mykonos: Stefanidis Editions.


Μαμαλάκης, Η. (20220 Τα τυριά της Ελλάδας, προέλευση, ιστορία, γεύσεις, Αθήνα: Αρμός / Mamalakis, I. (2022) The Cheeses of Greece: Origin, History, Flavors, Athens: Armos

Μάνεσης, Στ. (1981), Ο κύκλος του χρόνου (εθιμικά-λατρευτικά-μετεωρολογικά), Αθήνα: αυτοέκδοση/ Manesis, St. (1981), The Cycle of the Year (Customas-Rituals-Weather Cycles), Athens: self-published.


Νάζου, Δ. (2003), Οι πολλαπλές ταυτότητες και οι αναπαραστάσεις τους σε ένα τουριστικό νησί των Κυκλάδων: «Επιχειρηματικότητα» και «εντοπιότητα» στη Μύκονο, Μυτιλήνη: Πανεπιστήμιο Αιγαίου. Σχολή Κοινωνικών Επιστημών. Τμήμα Κοινωνικής Ανθρωπολογίας και Ιστορίας. Διδακτορική διατριβή / Nazou, D. (2003), Multiple Identities and Their Representations on a Tourist Island of the Cyclades: “Entrepreneurship” and “Locality” in Mykonos and Mytilene: University of the Aegean. School of Social Sciences. Department of Social Anthropology and History. PhD thesis.


Μηλιαράκης, Α. (1991 [1874]), Κυκλαδικά, ήτοι γεωγραφία και ιστορία των Κυκλάδων νήσων από των αρχαιοτάτων χρόνων μέχρι της καταλήψεως αυτών υπό των Φράγκων, Εν Αθήναις: Τύποις Ελληνικής Ανεξαρτησίας (Αναστατικές εκδόσεις Διον. Νότη Καραβία) / Miliarakis, A. (1991 [1874]), Of the Cyclades. Geography and history of the Cycladic islands from the Ancient Times to the Frankish Conquest, En Athinais: Publications of the Greek Independence ( Photomechanic Reprints Dion. Notis Karavia)


Μπίντσης, Θ., Παπαδήμας, Φ. (2009). Τυρί. Τεχνολογία Γάλακτος, Τυροκομία, Παρουσίαση Τυριών, Αθήνα: Ψύχαλος / Bintsis, Th., Papademas, P. (2009). Cheese. Milk Technology, Cheesemaking, Cheese Presentation, Athens: Psychalos.


Μπίντσης, Θ., Παπαδήμας, Φ. (2013). Φτιάχνω μόνος μου τυρί και γιαούρτι, Αθήνα: Ψύχαλος / Bintsis, Th., Papademas, P. (2013). Making Your Own Cheese and Yogurt, Athens: Psyhalos.


Παγώνης, Γ. (2007), Γλωσσικά της Μήλου, Μήλος: αυτοέκδοση / Pagonis, G. (2007), The dilect of Milos, Milos: self-published.


Παρασκευοπούλου-Γεροντάρη, Μ. (2004), Παραδοσιακά φαγητά-γλυκά Σερίφου, Σύρος: αυτοέκδοση / Paraskevopoulou-Gerondari, M. (2004), Traditional Foods and Sweets of Serifos, Syros: self-published.

Ρούσσου, Υ., Μένεγος, Λ., Της Πάρος οι νοστιμιές, Αθήνα: Μουσικοχορευτικό Συγκρότημα «Νάουσα Πάρου» / Roussos, Y., Menegos, L., The Delicacies of Paros, Athens: Musical Dance Group “Naousa, Paros”.


Ρουσουνέλος, Δ. (2015), Η κοπανιστή, Το χθες, το αύριο και 43 συνταγές, Μύκονος: Scala gallery / Rousounelos, D. (2015), Kopanisti, The Past, the Future and 43 Recipes, Mykonos: Scala gallery.


Ρουσουνέλος, Δ. (2011), Κυκλάδες: Γαστρονομικό οχυρό, Τέσσερα κείμενα για τη γεύση στα νησιά, Μύκονος: Scala gallery / Rousounelos, D. (2011), The Cyclades, a Gastronomic Fortress. Four Texts on Taste in the Islands, Mykonos: Scala gallery.


Ρουσουνέλος, Δ. (2001), Μυκονιάτικη Μαγειρική, ψηφίδες πολιτισμού, Αθήνα: Ίνδικτος / Rousounelos, D. (2001), Mykonian Cuisine. Pieces of a cultural mosaic pieces, Athens: Indiktos.


Σιμόπουλος, Κ. (1973) Ξένοι Ταξιδιώτες στην Ελλάδα τ. Β’ 1700-1800, Αθήνα / Simopoulos, K. (1973) Foreign Travelers in Greece vol. B’ 1700-1800, Athens.


Ταμπάκης, Α. (1996), Το ελληνικό γάλα και τα παραδοσιακά προϊόντα και υποπροϊόντα του, Αθήνα: αυτοέκδοση / Tampakis, A. (1996), Greek Milk and its Traditional Products and By-products, Athens: self-published.


Τασιόπουλος, Ν. (2022), Η Μύκονος μέσα από τη ματιά των περιηγητών 1100-1955, Κυκλαδικά Ιστορικά Μελετήματα, Αθήνα: HVNT / Tasiopoulos, N. (2022), Mykonos Through the Eyes of Travelers 1100-1955, Cycladic Historical Studies, Athens: HVNT.


Tournefort, J, P, de. (1717) Relation d’ un voyage au Levant. A Lyon: chez Anisson et Posuel

Φλωράκης, Α. (1971), Τήνος, Λαϊκός Πολιτισμός, Αθήνα: Ελληνικό Βιβλίο / Florakis, A. (1971), Tinos, Folk Culture, Athens: Elliniko Vivlio

  1. Additional Evidence
  2. Web Links
  • Video «Περί κοπανιστής» του Δημήτρη Καλφάκη, 2014 με αφορμή την 3ήμερη εκδήλωση για την Κοπανιστή (Μύκονος 2014) / “About Kopanisti” by Dimitris Kalfakis, 2014, during a 3-day event for Kopanisti (Mykonos 2014)
  • «Τυριά Νάξου», επεισόδιο σειράς ντοκιμαντέρ ταξιδιωτικού και γαστρονομικού περιεχομένου με τίτλο «Τοπικές Κουζίνες», προβλήθηκε στην ΕΡΤ2 το Σάββατο 5 Μαΐου 2017/ “Cheeses of Naxos” is an episode of the travel and gastronomic documentary series called “Local Cuisines”. It was aired on ERT2 on Saturday, 5th May 2017.
  • «Μια γεωγραφία των ιδιαίτερων τυριών του Αιγαίου», Μικρά τυριά από Φολέγανδρο, Λέρο, Μύκονο, Δήλες, Μήλο, Κάσο μας ταξιδεύουν στα τοπία της καταγωγής τους. Από τον Νίκο Μαστροπαύλο, 6 Απριλίου 2023 / “A geography of the special cheeses of the Aegean”, Small cheeses from Folegandros, Leros, Mykonos, Delos, Milos and Kassos take the viewer on a trip to the landscapes of their origin. By Nikos Mastropaulos, 6 April 2023.
  • «Τα παλαιωμένα», Νικολέτα Μακρυωνίτου, π.Γαστρονόμος, 17/12/2019 / “The aged ones”, Nikoleta Makryonitou, Gastronomos magazine, 17/12/2019.                       
  • «Το βουνίσιο Αρσενικό Νάξου έγινε ΠΟΠ». Ακόμα ένα Ελληνικό τυρί που μπαίνει στην Ευρωπαϊκή λίστα με προϊόντα Προστατευόμενης Ονομασίας Προέλευσης. 05.2020| Updated: 23.06.2022 / “Naxos Mountain cheese, Arseniko, is granted PDO status”. Yet another Greek cheese is added to the European list of PDO products. 19.05.2020| Updated: 23.06.2022
  • Τα τυριά των Κυκλάδων, Νικολέτα Μακρυωνίτου, π.Γαστρονόμος, 31/08/2016 / The Cheeses of the Cyclades, Nikoleta Makryonitou, Gastronomos magazine, 31/08/2016
  • «Ούτε 1, ούτε 2 αλλά 27 κυκλαδίτικα τυριά», Μάρω Σενετάκη, Olive Magazine, 26/05/2015 / “Not merely 1 or 2 but 27 Cycladic cheese”, Maro Senetaki, Olive Magazine, 26/05/2015
  • «Πολιτισμός, Παράδοση, Γαστρονομία και Αναπτυξιακές Προοπτικές μέσα από τη σύνθεση ελληνικού πρωινού γεύματος με τοπικά προϊόντα σε ξενοδοχειακές επιχειρήσεις: Η περίπτωση της Τήνου», Μαρία – Αναστασία Φιλέρη, Διπλωματική Εργασία, Χαροκόπειο Πανεπιστήμιο, Τμήμα Οικιακής Οικονομίας και Οικολογίας / “A study on the constitution of a Greek breakfast with local products: culture, tradition, gastronomy and prospects for developing the hotel sector. The Case of Tinos.” Postgraduate Disseration by Maria-Anastasia Fileri, Department of Home Economics and Ecology, Harokopeio University.


  1. Written testimonies and archival documents

The significance of cheese is also evidenced by various records, such as:

  • «…Το 1687, οι Ζωρζέτος Σοφιανός και Αλέξανδρος Καλαμαράς απαιτούν το μερίδιό τους από πρέζα (κουρσάρικη λεία), που πραγματοποίησε ο καπετάν Αύγουστος Παξιμάδης σε πλοίο φορτωμένο με 75 καντάρια τυρί…»[4] (βλ. Γ.Α.Κ. κ.60 φ. 12, 20.1.1687) / In 1687, Zorzetos Sofianos and Alexandros Kalamaras demanded their share of the loot from a corsair raid carried out by Captain Augustos Paximadis on a ship loaded with 75 kantars (1 kantar= 449 kg) of cheese (see General State Archives, file 60, sheet 12, 20/01/1687).
  • In an inventory of goods and objects recorded after death for the purpose of preserving inherited property “eight pieces of cheese in one barrell”[5]
  • The Monastery of Taxiarches of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Serifos was required to give the Patriarch three okas of cheese as a sign of submission, according to a Sigillion from 1653[6]
  • To ensure protection and self-sufficiency of goods, the Mykonos Municipal Council stipulated certain regulations on 30.12.1827, in the first post-revolutionary years. Among other things, they stated that: “[…] recent—fresh— myzithra should be sold at 40 paras per oka, and tyrivolia at 60. If anyone was to try to sell tyrovolia, they would be charged per gram. Meat and myzithra should be kept for personal consumption only as, apart from good education, it is also subject to a fine […]” (Ρουσουνέλος, 2001)
  • Examples of Mykonos’ product exports [7]:

– in 1841: Fresh cheese, 8.000 okades (1 oka = 1.282 kg)

– in 1842: Frech cheese, 3.800 okades


in 1933: kopanisti, 10.285 okades

  • In Kythnos, on the Holy Saturday Resurrection Service, “people would bring cheese or even a pie to church”[8] to be blessed by the priest with the phrase “Christos Anesti” (Christ has risen).
  • In Kythnos, “until the 19th century, cow’smilk was not consumed nor was it used to make cheese” [9]. Instead, the sturdy animals were mainly used for plowing and threshing.
  • Thermiotiko cheese, also known as “Kyhnios tyros” (Kythnian cheese) since antiquity, is mentioned in several written sources[10]. These sources, including Aristotle, Stephanus of Byzantium, Athenaeus, Polydeuces, Diogenes Laertius, Pliny, and Aelian, speak of its excellent taste and its exportation, even as far as Rome. This cheese is still produced today under the names trimma or zymoto (in Chora). It is made without boiling, salted, kneaded, and placed in a cheese form. After ten days, it is flipped to drain the whey.


  1. Proverbs, sayings

Some testimonies, riddles, songs, proverbs, and proverbial expressions drawn from the Cycladic tradition regarding cheese and cheesemaking are mentioned as examples.

  • In the local dialect, there is an encouragement for younger people to learn by watching their parents and trying: “Learn to shear, learn to make cheese, even if you end up spoiling one. That’s how we learned in the old days […]. If you’re careful, sharp-eyed, if you observe you parent, you learn.” (oral testimony by Manolis Kritikos)


  • Ewe lambs and

Male progeny

(common proverbial expression)



  • Shepherding is good, if it comes with kindness

if it comes with meanness, shepherding is shitness. (Milos)[11]


  • The sheep chased poverty out of the village. (Mykonos)


  • Milk fed the dragon. (Mykonos)


  • He who gets burned with porridge (alevrogalia),

Will blow the buttermilk (xinogalo). (Mykonos)


  • I’d rather step on a mountain thorn

but have my arse inside,

Than grab hard cheese, soft cheese (anthotyro)

and have my arse outside (Mykonos)

(that is what the field mouse says about the risk of getting trapped and being left outside its nest with its bottom exposed)[12]


  • “The xinotyria are spoiled. They flared up, pure Tramontane”. (The strong North wind often brings destruction. Such a great disaster is also having your xinotyra spoiled).


  • Teasing phrase for Mykonians:

“You do eat your koklanos and the old mizithra.”

(meaning the codfish and the kopanisti, Mykonians’ favorites)


  • Shitty cheese moulds (tyrovolia) now .

(expression of great disappointment as a result of unfulfilled expectations), (Milos) ibid.


  • A riddle from Aperathos (Naxos), common in the agricultural societies of the islands:

“Stone in the arse,

face in the arse,

ten are pulling

and two are squirting”

(Interpretation: The shepherd, sitting on a stone, is facing the hindquarters of the goat and is milking it with all ten fingers. The milk is spurting from the two teats). Narration by Florios Kritikos.


  • A traditional song from Naxos:

“How handsome the shepherd is

 As he gets wet, changes his clothes

And grabs his milking pail

     to sit by the fence”

  1. Author’s Details and Date of Submission
  2. a. Author’s Name: Rousounelos Dimitris
  3. Author’s Capacity: author, taste hunter, taste researcher
  4. Place and Date Record Submission: Mykonos, January 20, 2024


  1. Last Update


1 Next to “fromage mou”, Tournefort mentions in a footnote the word “pouino”. It is most likely that he is referring to “pouina”, a dairy product similar to Italian ricotta.

[2] In the winter of 2016, the Mykonos Gastronomy Club held a series of seminars dedicated to the production of local traditional cheeses, including xinogalo, tyrovolia, xinotyro, and kopanisti, as well as cheeses from Epirus such as feta, galotyri, and anthotyro. Over one hundred individuals participated in these seminars. In 2014 and 2019, it organized two major events with invited journalists and scientists. The first event was for kopanisti with the support of the Region of South Aegean, while the second event was for tyrovolia with the support of the Municipality of Mykonos.


[4] Δημητρόπουλος, Δημήτρης (1997) Η Μύκονος τον 17ο αιώνα, γαιοκτητικές σχέσεις και οικονομικές συναλλαγές, Αθήνα: εκδ. Κέντρο Νεοελληνικών Ερευνών Ε.Ι.Ε. / Dimitropoulos, Dimitris (1997) Mykonos in the 17th century, landowner relations and economic transactions, Athens: Centre for Modern Greek Studies, National Research Centre of Greece

[5] Δημητρόπουλος, Δημήτρης. (1998 ) Κυκλάδες, ιστορία του τοπίου και τοπικές ιστορίες, Αθήνα: Κέντρο Ελληνικής και Ρωμαϊκής Αρχαιότητας, Ε.Ι.Ε. και Τμήμα Περιβάλλοντος Πανεπιστήμιο Αιγαίου,… / Dimitropoulos, Dimitris. (1998) The Cyclades: a History of the Landscape and Local Stories, Athens: Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity, the National Research Centre and the Department of Environment, University of the Aegean,…

[6] Ανωμερίτης, Γιώργος. (2020) Πατριαρχικά Σιγίλλια προς τα Αγιονήσια των Κυκλάδων 1553-1821,  Αθήνα: εκδ. Μίλητος / Anomeritis, Giorgos. (2020) Patriarchal Sigillia to the Ionian Islands of Cyclades 1553-1821, Athens. Militos

[7] Κωνσταντινίδης, Α. (1047), Δυο χωριά απ’ τη Μύκονο, Αθήνα / Konstantinidis, A. (1047), Two villages from Mykonos, Athens

[8]  Βενετούλιας, Γ.(2011) Το μυριστικό κυδώνι, η παραδοσιακή κουζίνα της Κύθνου, Αθήνα: εκδ. Εν πλω / Venetoulias, G. (2011) The fragrant quince: the traditional cuisine of Kythnos, Athens: En plo editions.

[9]   ibid.

[10] Βάλληνδας Α., (1882) Κυθνιακά 22-23 και Μηλιαράκη Α. (1874), Κυκλαδικά, σ.45, 47 / Ballindas A., (1882) Of Kythnos pp. 22-23 and Miliaraki A. (1874), Of the Cyclades, p.45, 47

[11] Παγώνης, Γ., (2007), Γλωσσικά της Μήλου, Μήλος / Pagonis, G., (2007), The Dialect of Milos, Milos

[12] Ρουσουνέλος Δ., (2001), Μυκονιάτικη Μαγειρική, ψηφίδες πολιτισμού, Δημήτρης Ρουσουνέλος, Ίνδικτος, Αθήνα / Roussounelos D., (2001), Mykonos Cooking. A Mosaic of Culture, Dimitris Roussounelos, Athens: Indiktos.