Bologna Food Themed Park to Open In Italy

In a bid to turn disused public real estate into profitable tourist attractions, the municipality of Bologna and Eataly, the food chain, have announce that they plan to open a food themed park in what is otherwise called the food capital of Italy. It is estimated that the proposed food theme park will cost about €400 million to develop and it is hoped that it will open its doors to visitors in 2015. It will be located on 80,000 square meters of what today is a lot of unused warehouses. The move comes as a result of a push from the Italian government to turn unused assets into tourist attractions.

Eataly,NYC.
Eataly in NY – source

According to Paolo Scordino who is the chief executive of Prelios SGR, they have already started raising the necessary funds and so far, they have managed to get about €85 million. The hope is that the theme park will remind visitors of a time when Italy was more serene, not the way it is currently described as a “decadent” country.

There are several such projects going on around the country. They are part of a plan to try and get Italy out of its current financial woes. In Venice, for instance, a project is underway to turn an abandoned island into a theme park which will include a 55 meter Ferris wheel and many other theme park entertainments.

All these projects, it is hoped, will attract even more tourists than are currently coming into the country to see various attractions. Most visitors come to Italy for the art, the beaches and the food but it is now hoped that theme parks will attract a different kind of crowd, the kind that fills Disneyland every day. According to one official, “Each square meter will be linked to a business line and will directly or indirectly produce revenue, as happens in Disney’s parks.”

Modena and Reggio Emilia: find REAL Balsamic Vinegar

There is still a lot of confusion about what constitutes a genuine Balsamic vinegar, or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, to give this Italian “black gold” its  correct name. After all, anyone can walk into their local supermarket and find a string of different vinegars all bearing the name Balsamic Vinegar of Modena; this is confusing I know, but do not be fooled – this is a cheaper “imitation” and nothing at all like the product it tries to imitate. Most of cheaper bottles will contain cooked grape juice and ordinary red wine vinegar, and sometimes thickeners and caramel to sweeten and colour. These products are regulated by IGP labelling and producers can add these additives to obtain the right colour or density. Most of them are pleasant enough to use for salad dressing, and slightly sweeter than regular red wine vinegar.

ACETO2
Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, in its typical bottle.

What is real traditional balsamic vinegar then?

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, by contrast, is regulated every step of the way through the production and aging process and may only be produced in two areas, Modena and Reggio Emilia in the north of Italy, which is where you should go to find it and see how it is made. The best way to be sure that you are finding the real thing is to go on a Balsamic Tour to one of the producers, where you will learn all about the production process and how to recognise the genuine product. There are about 160 producers in the two regions, who make a total of just 75,000 bottles a year. The vinegar is made in the traditional age-old way, using mainly trebbiano grapes grown locally. The vinegar is aged in a succession of wooden barrels which become smaller and smaller until it has been maturing for at least 12 years, the minimum acceptable aging period for a Tradizionale Balsamic. At this stage the vinegar will be tasted by the regulatory body, the Consorzio to which the producer belongs, and if it is passed it will be labelled affinato, indicating a young Balsamic, and is bottled with a white top, in both Modena and Reggio Emilia.

Extra old balsamic vinegars in Modena and Reggio Emilia.

About 30 – 40% of the product is then further aged until it reaches 25 or even 30 years old. A really well matured over 25 year old Balsamic is labelled extra vecchio (very old) and will be bottled with a gold top in both regions. In Reggio Emilia, there is a third designation for vinegars that have been matured for at least 18 years – they are labelled vecchio (old) and bottled with a gold top. The bottle shapes are also distinctive for each region; in Modena they use a rounded globe-shaped bottle with a rectangular base and a long neck, while the Reggio Emilia bottle is straighter and has a slightly flared base.

Many of the producers (acetaia) in the Modena and Reggio Emilia region are very happy to take you on a tour of their establishments, but most will require advance booking if you are not part of a tour. Acetaia di Giorgio is one of the producers in Modena who will give you a genuine welcome and an excellent tour, including the chance to taste several different balsamics, while in Reggio Emilia, Acetaia Medici is a good choice since they not only make excellent Balsamic, but also several wonderful wines.

Emilia Delizia will be delighted to organise a traditional balsamic tour for your group, big or small. Our company can organise an all inclusive day with transport and English speaking guide, departing from Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma.

3 bottles of traditional balsamic vinegar
The 3 ageing of the traditional balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia

The Castles and Food of Piacenza – Bardi Arquato, Bobbio, and Coppa.

Emilia Delizia would be delighted to organise a castle, food and wine tour for your group departing from Piacenza, Parma and Milan. For more  information about the castles of the Piacenza/Parma area, please check our article below.

 Piacenza and Parma’s Castles, a unique experience in Emilia Romagna.

Planning a holiday in Italy is always a delight with such a lot to look forward to! The Emilia Romagna region in North-Eastern Italy is home to the town of Parma, and we all know that Parma is the birthplace of some of Italy’s favourite exports, Parmesano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese) and Proscuitto di Parma (Parma Ham), but did you know that the province, (or duchy), of Parma and Piacenza is also home to more than 20 castles? Castles and fortresses are symbolic of the region; they are a constant reminder of the hundreds of years the region has been under siege by successive waves of marauding invaders intent upon destruction and mayhem; they are magical places to visit for adults and children alike and you should not miss the opportunity to include a few in your itinerary.

This area is acknowledged to be the best place to view some wonderful examples of the best-preserved castles in all of Italy, and they are relatively close together, making exploring easy. I will tell you a little about 3 of the castles:

Castello di Bardi. The fortress of Bardi is an excellent example of Military architecture and has stood for more than one thousand years. It was built for defence, but later (16th century) partially converted to an aristocratic residence. There is plenty to see, including the ancient patrol paths, the parade ground, the fortified towers and all you would expect to find in a structure dedicated to defence. The view from the towers is worth the climb, and you can also visit a Museum dedicated to the story of the ancient Valley-Dwelling Civilisation. The Castle is open from March to Nov and entrance is around €5.50 per adult.

Castello di Arquato is found in the little medieval town with the same name (Castell’Arquato) in the province of Piacenza. The Castle was built from 1342-1349, and was a strategic structure, designed for the defence of the area. The rectangular courtyard enclosure is dominated by the Tower (keep) composed of a series of small rooms built one on top of the other, and linked by a series of staircases leading to the very top. Once again, your climbing efforts will be rewarded by the views of the surrounding countryside. You can visit the castle all year round for €3.50 (If you plan to visit several castles, you can buy a discount ticket for €2.00 at the castle that will save you money at all the other castles in the region.)

Make sure to visit the Multimedia Museum of Medieval Life, then explore the pretty little town than spills down the hill and visit the 12th century church of Santa Maria to see some sculptures and frescoes dating from the 12th and 15th centuries.

Castello di Bobbio. Bobbio is a small town near Piacenza, mainly famous for its Abbey and its Christmas Eve Snail Festival! The castle, properly known as Malaspina Dal Verme Castle now lies within the city walls of the town. It was begun in 1304 on the hill overlooking the town and although it is no longer intact, it is still worth a visit. You will find ruins of the Bishops Tower, and another circular tower built on two levels; you can still see the ancient arrow slits on the battlements, now converted to windows. The interior has undergone several modifications but the original large barrel-vaulted main hall is still intact, as are some very old frescoes in the stairwell. The Castle is open all year round and it costs €2.00 to visit. The little town of Bobbio is a lovely place to spend a few hours and you should try to visit the Abbey while you are there.

Bobbio - ponte gobbo 2
Ponte Gobbo – Bobbio Emilia Romagna – source

Food and wine in the Piacenza province.

When all the sightseeing has made you hungry and thirsty, you will be delighted to find yourself in Emilia Romagna, the culinary capital of the country where good food and wine are the order of the day! You are certain to have tasted Parma Ham and Parmesan cheese, but here in Piacenza there are other specialities to try, namely the Coppa Piacentina, Salame Piacentino and Pancetta Piacentina; all of these are wonderful examples of cured meat from the region and have been awarded PDO status (Protected Designation of Origin).

coppa
Coppa – wikipedia

Your meat platter is beautifully accompanied by a glass or two of Gutturnio wine from the hills of Piacenza; this mellow blend of red Barbera and Croatina grapes has recently been awarded DOC status – do not miss it! Salute!

 

Balsamic vinegar tour in Modena – EmiliaDelizia.com

Modena and the traditional balsamic vinegar produced here are truly Italian gems of uniqueness.

 

Romanesque cathedral
Cathedral of Modena

The Duomo di Modena is part of the Unesco world’s heritage and it is something really markable that you should not miss. It is almost 1000 years old and build only from scrap marbled derived from ancient Roman villas. The Duomo has been built according the Romanesque style by the masters of Campione D’Italia. The structure celebrates Modena’s patron and protector San Geminiano.

extra old balsamic vinegar
100 ml bottle of balsamic vinegar of Modena

Hidden in the family’s  home attics there is another treasure: Traditional Balsamic vinegar of Modena. Only made by the Modenese families in small batches and aged up to 25 years, it is a remarkable pearl in the Italian gastronomic tradition. It requires a set of barrels made of noble woods, Lambrusco grape juice and a lot of patience. Every year the producers have to painstakingly refill the barrels since some of the liquid is lost due to natural evaporation during the hot summers. However this allows to blend the flavours of the woods into the final product.

 

tasting of balsamic vinegar
trying the balsamic vinegar

The traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena has basically nothing to do with lower quality vinegar even when marketed as MODENA’S. During the tasting we will discover how to distinguish the black nectar from its numerous imitations. The tasting is aimed to develop an appreciation for the producer and learn how to match it with foods. Even though it is seen by many as an expensive and eccentric product it can be used on everyday’s foods. If used correctly a bottle will last for long time.

balsamic vinegar
The balsamic vinegar barrels

During Emilia Delizia’s Traditional Balsamic Vinegar tour we will learn how the fractional ageing works and each detail of the production will be explained to our guests. For those wishing to take home some of the product is now possible to purchase the 100 ml bottles directly from the producer at discounted prices. Some producers are also happy to send their products directly to your home and almost all accept all major credit cards.

Ghirlandina
The Ghirlandina tower of Modena

Even though Modena is small, it is a true concentration of history, architecture and food delicacies. If you want to truly sample the city we recommend to spend at least one night and a full day. Modena is also famous for Parmesan cheese, pasta like tortellini, Zampone and cotechino and there is an endless array of good restaurants in the city centre. Ranging from cheap eat to Bottura’s Osteria Francescana, Modena is set to please everyone in terms of food.

Canza Enzo Ferrari
Ferrari museum in central Modena

Modena is also the capital of motor sport, and super cars. The newly open Enzo Ferrari museums is an interesting hot spot for those fanatic about the Ferrari cars. The modern building offers themed and rotating car collections that express the soul Modena. It is also possible to catch a shuttle bus and visit the Maranello Ferrari museum without the need of hiring a car.

Parmigiano Reggiano Factory Tour

Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) guided visit to a cheese day.

 

Emilia Delizia offers detailed Parmigiano Reggiano cheese tours in Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilia. Our tour will begin early in the morning in order to catch as much as possible. Below we tried to reproduce our tour in pictures to give a better idea to people about what they will see when at the Parmesan dairy.

Milk for parmesan cheese
1000 kg of milk for the parmigiano reggiano cheese production

At the arrival at the dairy we we will see the raw milk sitting in the vats. These large containers “cauldrons” contains 1000 kg of full fat and half milk mixed together. The compound is then acidified and the rennet is added. At this point the milk will turn into a yoghurt like substance.

cheese just made
2 wheels of parmesan cheese

These are the 2 twins, one is a boy and the other is a girl. Basically these are the curds of the cheese that have  been cut and left to rest. From 1000 kilos of milk we obtain 2 45 kilos wheels. Some of the weight is lost during the ageing, and therefore the final product weights approximately 37 kg.

Parmesan cheese just made
The cheese will spend a day in the Teflon mould

The unformed cheese goes into the Teflon mould for one day and one night. The cheese master carefully add a weight on top of the cheese. In order to squeeze our all the liquid the moulds are then turned every couple of hours. In the evening the cheese cloth is removed and the matrix carrying the naming Parmigiano Reggiano is inserted in the mould. Telon is a new material that has replaced the hand made wooden moulds that were originally crafted by hand.   In the video you can clearly see how the cheese is moved from the vat to the moulds. Our guests will be able to see the full production just meters away form the cheese being made.

metal moulds for the cheese
the parmesan cheese is the metal mould

The cheese goes into the metal mould for another day. These moulds have the shape of the wheel which will not required further manipulation such as the trimming of the edges.  The cheese always rest on wooden shelves which allow breathing and the correct ageing.

cheese guided tour
Guided tour to a Parmesan cheese dairy

The wheels then go to a brine bath and stay here for 3 weeks. This is an important step to make hard cheese in fact the high salinity of the water will allow residual moisture to exit thanks to natural osmosis. It is important to keep in mind that Parmesan cheese does not contain any preservative or anti fermentative, therefore it is essential to have the right amount of moisture in the wheels.

ageing Parmesan cheese
visit to the Parmigiano Reggiano maturation cellars

The last part of the visit will be spend in the ageing cellars. Here is the Parmigiano Reggiano is stocked on the traditional shelves for a minima of 12 months. During the visit we will learn how to recognise the real Parmesan cheese from imitation and we will discover the nutritional values of the product.

The culinary traditions of Reggio Emilia

Reggio Emilia is often overlooked by the tourists coming to Emilia Romagna. Reggio Emilia is a medium size town on the Via Emiia situated between Modena and Parma, and it makes the perfect base for the culinary traveller as there are many gourmet foods to be discovered.

Reggio Emilia and Parmesan cheese.

Reggio Emilia is in the cradle of Parmigiano Reggiano. The history of this amazing cheese starts here. Bibbiano has been named the town where the first production started around 900 years ago due to the discovery of the first written accounts of the cheese production. Therefore visiting Reggio Emilia makes perfect sense for those interested in seeing the production of Parmesan cheese.

Traditional balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia.

Modena made balsamic vinegar known worldwide but the production of aceto balsamic tradizionale is not restricted to the Modenese province. In the tradition balsamic vinegar was the dowry of young women who would marry and bring the vinegar barrels with them. Due to the close proximity of the two provinces the tradition was also brought in Reggio Emilia. Here it is possible to find more old fashioned producers who make only high quality traditional balsamic vinegar rather than concentrating on industrial vinegar as many do in Modena.

Fresh Egg Pasta: tortelli di zucca.

Of course Reggio Emilia, as all towns in the Emilia Region, produces its own version of fresh egg pasta. One of the most peculiar ones are the Tortelli di Zucca. Sometimes hat or ravioli shaped these parcels are filled with ricotta cheese, parmesan and pumpkin. Some recipes require a hint of crumbled amaretti biscuits in the filling, it is indeed an acquired taste but they can be delicious when topped with melted butter parmesan cheese and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.

A Medieval Pie: Erbazzone.

Erbazzone belongs to the simple farmer’s style cuisine. The women in the kitchen had to come up with something filling and tasty so erbazzone is a pastry made with lard and flour with a filling of chard, spinach, or whatever was in the allotment at the time of preparation. The filling requires to be laced with parmesan cheese, and you could put as much as you could afford. The pastry is pierced with a fork to let vegetable inside to steam when baking in the oven.

Culaccia ham.

Culaccia is a culatello, (the best prosciutto cut) but it is cured with the rind on. This technique allows the meat to stay soft and tender. Culaccia can be found on the Reggio Emilia hills where the climate is drier and away from the foggy plains. In some cases Culaccia beats Parma ham and culatello in tasting competitions. So it is well worth to look for some slices of culaccia in the next trip to Italy.

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erbazzone made the traditional way

Best Romantic and Charming Places to stay in Parma

Emilia Delizia is constantly picking up foodies from Parma for our special food tour in Parma that includes visits to Parmesan cheese producers, Balsamic vinegar and Parma ham, therefore we wanted to share some information about some special places where to stay in Parma.

Parma also called the “Petit Paris” as under the French control gained some details of the French cultural influence, so the appearance of a town running along the Parma river started to look like a little Paris.

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the Parma’s baptistery and Palazzo dalla Rosa Prati on the right

Palazzo dalla Rosa Prati.

Palazzo della Prati is for sure at the top of our list. Only if you can afford, it is going to be one of the best stay ever while you are in Italy. It is not a a faceless hotel but in Italy is classified as dimora storica or historical dwelling so you get to stay in a real palace, with all the frescoes, statues, chandeliers and charming gardens. On top of this you will be next to the Parma’s baptistery and Romanesque Duomo.

palazzorosaprati

 

Rubra b&b in Parma.

Rubra is a charming bed and breakfast in right in central Parma, and you will be minutes away from all the delicacies that you find here. Also the owner is said to be a foodie and he will be very happy to point out all the secret of Parma. Rubra is a home away from home with a secluded garden in central Parma.

rubra

 

Villino di Porporano.

Villino di Porporano is in Porporano a small village about 15 minutes from central Parma, due to the location is better to have your own car or be prepared to take a taxi from the city centre. The villilno di Porporano is a fully restored country side villas that wants to introduce you to the charm of the past. All rustic details are taken in seriously, plenty of outdoor space in its idyllic garden. The stay includes a sumptuous breakfast and a swimming pool if you fancy a dip in the morning.

villino

Star Hotel du Park in Parma.

Star Hotel du Park is more popular than ever. The advantages of a 4 star hotel near the city centre (and station) can be difficult to beat. It is situated in a modern building with the look and charm of the past. Along the regular rooms they also offer a vast array of suites to please all tastes. It can be good value when booked on-line and in advance.

starhoteldupark

 

Emilia Delizia 3 gourmet tour and farm stay included.

If you decide to stay in Parma and you have your own car, we can also organise a farm stay agriturismo stay in Parma, with Parmesan cheese production. So when you wake up in the morning you can see how the cheese is made from across the yard. The self drive itinerary also includes Traditional balsamic vinegar, and Parma ham.

Emilia Delizia.

Emilia Delizia recommends you also to visit the best of Parma while you are staying here and this includes Parmesan cheese producers, traditional balsamic vinegar that can be found in the near province of Reggio Emilia and Modena and of course you can also visit Parma ham (prosciutto di Parma) producers in Langhirano that it is no more than 30 minutes away from central Parma. And do not forget to check where to eat in Parma, and when you are too full you can take a nice walk in Parma to discover more.

 

 

Foods that you must eat in Bologna

5 foods you should eat when visiting Bologna. This province has one of the greatest culinary tradition in Italy because its area encompasses the Appennini mountains and the Pianura Padana. The array of basic ingredients is enormous giving birth to sophisticated and traditional cuisine.

Crescentine or Tigelle.

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a typical dish of Bologna and Modena: crescentine or also called tigelle

Crescentine are simple small breads traditional baked sandwiched in disks of clay and cooked by the kitchen fireplace. The ingredients for the dough are simply flour, water salt, yeast (sometimes a splash of cream). The greatness of this bread is that it becomes crispy outside and it is hot and moist inside therefore thy are just great when cut in half and stuffed with the local salumi. Crescentine are the food of the Appennini mountains and widely eaten across the provinces of Bologna and Modena. For a nice addition you should try them with Pesto alla Modenese. This nothing else than pork lard mixed with a pinch of salt, garlic, rosemary and parmesan cheese.

Mortadella

Mortadella vendor in Bologna

It is long the tradition of pork raising in the Emilia Romagna area. The meat is mostly consumed in form of sausages, salami and hams, and rarely eaten fresh. Bologna most iconic sausage is Mortadella. Lately this cooked sausage is living a revival and producers are trying to move away from the unhealthy image of a fatty sausage. According to the traditional recipe it must be made from the lean and noble parts of the animal which are ground to a fine paste, fat cubes and spices are added, then stuffed into a casing suitable for the size, and finally slowly cooked for 2/3 days at low temperature. Mortadella can be thinly sliced or cubed.

Parmigiano Reggiano.

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Parmesan cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmesan cheese is the king of cheeses. Made from high quality unpasteurised milk and aged from a minimum of 12 months. However rarely it is eaten at this age. Bolognese people like their cheese when it is at least 24 months old. At this age it has fully developed its potential flavours and it is suitable to enhance the stuffing of tortellini . Bologna produces Parmigiano Reggiano only on the west bank of the Reno River. At the moment of writing there are about 10 producers of the cheese in the Bologna area, you will find more proudcers in Mantua, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma.
Shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano can be also enjoyed with a few drops of traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena.

Tortellini.

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window shopping in Bologna: hand made tortellini

Tortelllini are the quintessential Bologna’s winter food. In town there is no Christmas without a plate of tortellini cooked in capon broth. As the legend goes they have been shaped according to the navel of Lucretia Borgia. As she checked in to a INN, the host impressed by her beauty was trying to spy her from the keyhole, but he could only see her pretty belly button.
Traditionally tortellini are made from sheets of egg pasta. Then stuffed with minced pork, parmesan cheese, mortadella, prosciutto, and the recipe changes depending on the family who makes it. Today you can buy tortellini almost everywhere but the best ones are those made by hand. They are pricey but well worth every cents.

Zuppa Inglese.

To conclude our short guide to the Bologna food tour we wanted to include a dessert. After all sweets always close all good meals. Zuppa Inglese is another iconic dish of Bologna but quite common all over Emilia. This pudding is inspired from English trifles in fact the the name translate roughly to “The English Soup” . it is made from 2 custards: egg and a chocolate custard which are then layered on top of savoiardi biscuits (Italian Ladyfinger). These biscuits are spongy and especially made to soak up the liquors that are added.

 

 

 

A day around Parma between ham, culatello and castles

Parma is a town in the north west of Italy, not far from Milan and the Cinque Terre. Parma is well connected via train links, motorway and recently even by air with the newly opened Verdi airport which connects the town with London Stansted. Thanking to this new possibility it is now possible to spend a long weekend to explore the best food in Italy, medieval castles and aristocratic palazzoes.

culatello in Parma
Culatello hanging from the humid cellars

The Castle of Torrechiara and Parma ham.

Heading  south just   30 minutes by car from central Parma, we will find the Castle of Torrechiara. An important manor overlooking the Parma river valley. Once belonging to the Rossi family is now a museum open to everyone interested in visiting this splendid example of medieval architecture.  The highlight of the visit is the magnificent “bedroom” once dedicated to Pier Maria Rossi’s lover: Bianca. But this is not all. The Torrechiara castle is only part of the fun. The castle’s adjacent town is the centre of the Parma ham production. In Langhirano you can sample the best prosciutto that you can find around, and directly from the producers too. The best of all comes when you can stay at the castle b&b and have your dinner right at Locanda del Castello a restuarant providing excellent and  typical Parma style dishes.

Farm stay with Parmesan production.

To make things more interesting you could stay a selected farm and wake up in the morning with an amazing breakfast followed with a tour of parmesan cheese production. This is possible in Lesignano Bagni not far from the Parma ham production area and it also close to a balsamic vinegar producer. In fact you can visit all 3 products in just one one day with a 2 night stay.

Colorno, little Paris, and culatello ham.

The Parma province has a lot to offer and maybe you need to start to make choices in your long weekend. The area once under the French control was named the little Paris, due to the charming resemblance of the river side of the two cities. But another important guest was living in the small town of Colorno. Marie Luise duchess of Parma and wife of Napolon. She made Colorno her home and she had a whole palazzo for herself. The ducal palace of Colorno is a splendid example of renaissance architecture. Not to be missed is the hourly tour inside the palace. Do not forget to walk in the English style palace garden that is always accessible during daylight.
But Colorno is home of another delicacy: Culatello ham. Probably it is the first location making the ham heading north from Parma. Remember that many producers are happy to do guided visits inside their cellars, so just follow the culatello road sign and ask.

Polesine Parmense and the Antica Corte Pallavicina.

Heading north from Parma towards the great Po’ river we will encounter an unpretentious village called  Polesine. The highlight here is the building named after the noble parmense family: the Pallavicini. While the village has been moved from the shores for the river, remarkably the Antica Corte still sits next to to the banks of Po’. The Antica Corte Pallavicina has been completely restored by Massimo Spigaroli, who is the keeper of the secrets of culatello. He will oblige to show you the massive brick cellars of the palace literally filled with the precious ham. Massimo also organises cooking lessons, and ham making sessions. Cycling and boat tours of the Po’ river. Of course you can also stay at the palace by renting one of the modern and comfortable room.

Roccabianca.

Roccabianca literally the white castles lies in the flat of the Parma province just few kilometres from the Po’ River. Pier Maria Rossi not satisfied with Torrechiara castle builds another palace for Bianca (his lover) here in the foggy and marshy lands north of Parma. Roccabianca is simply spectacular, the external walls of the inner courts are completely covered in ivy. Here it is easy to imagine tales of knights and dames. But Roccabianca is also the home of the Italian author Giovannino Guareschi, maybe known more familiar to the Italians than the foreign visitors. It is still worth to mention that you can visit his house and discover this stories of Don Camillo and Peppone. Of course Roccabianca is one of the homes of Culatello, so enjoy it while you are there.

Zibello.

The home of the famous culatello and also the headquarters of the consortium. In November there is the culatello festival called Novemberpork. The local fiesta is totally dedicated to swine delicacies. Their tagline is: speriamo che ci sia la nebbia, it translates as we hope that it is going to be foggy. For many might sound strange but the producers claim that they need to open the windows of their cellars to let the fog. Apparently you will need that sort of humidity to cure the ham correctly.

Soragna.

Needless to say that here in Soragna you will find 2 things: a castle and culatello ham. It is a tiny comune with a characteristic porticoed town centre. While you are here you should visit the Rocca di Soragna, another magnificent castle with the advantage of still being inhabited by its prince descending from the Lupi family. English guided visits can be organised and culatello producers are in range.

San Secondo Parmense.

San Secondo is the home of spalla di San Secondo. A pork speciality made with the front shoulders of the animal. The cooked version is served warm with torta fritta (a earthy fried bread) coupled together it is a mind blowing experience  The flat land around Parma do not produce great wines but if you come across the Fortana wine, or Fortanina you should not miss the chance to try it, light and fruity is heart-warming in those foggy nights.

 Cycling Activities from Parma – Discover the great river from Polesine Parmense.

The Po’ river offers plenty of opportunities for those wanting to cycle or walk. In fact it is possible to rent bicycles locally and go on cycling tour of the area. The activities require some sort of fitness but they are considered easy trails as they are in the flat. The day can be also combined with the navigation of the Po’ river and a stop in Cremona. Of course we will include a gourmet visit to a culatello producer.

PDO area of Production of Parmesan Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Where this famous Italian cheese is made.

by Gabriele Monti November 6th, 2012

A while ago the consortium of the Parmigiano Reggiano made the map below to explain where the cheese is made, in order to educate consumers and tourists about the area of production.

Protected designations of origin.

The PDO is a food labelling standard that you find in Europe to protect food that has to be made only in certain areas. This is the case of Parmesan cheese, which is required to be made from the milk coming from the production area. The organoleptic characteristics of the raw materials will be transferred in the final product. Therefore you cannot make parmigiano reggiano using milk coming from other areas, simply because the outcome will not be the same.

The discipline of cheese making.

The consortium has a discipline that imposed on each producer. The discipline is nothing else than a set of  strict rules made according our ancient tradition. In short to make the cheese you need the right raw material: high quality milk and of course the skills the knowledgeable cheese masters of Emilia.

Bologna and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bologna produces the parmesan cheese only on  the left bank of river Reno. In total there are only 10/12 producers in this province. If you stay in Bologna and decide to take a cheese tour, it is most likely that you will have to go to Modena to see the production.

Modena.

Coming from east, Modena is where the real parmigiano production starts. The area is of a particular interest if we look at the parmesan cheese produced on the Appenini mountains which is said to have a higher quality. This is probably due to the better water and air, being away from the industrial areas. In Modena is also possible to find organic parmesan produced from heirloom cows such as the bianca Modenese.

Mantova 

Although being in Lombardy and not in Emlia Romagna, Mantua falls in the production area. in fact there are several producers of the cheese in the area south of the Po’ River. Mantova is also a producer of Grana Padano.

Reggio Emlia – The cradle of cheese making.

Bibbiano  is a small town about 20 km south of Reggio Emlia, it is the confirmed cradle of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. We have the first written accounts of the cheese of Parma dating back at least 9 centuries. Reggio Emilia is often overlooked by the tourists but is well worth a stop if you are interested in food.

Parma and the cheese of.

Parma along with Reggio Emlia shares highest production amounts of the area. Also the town already confirmed itself as world’s gourmet destination and food basket of Italy.

Visiting and touring a Parmesan cheese dairy in Emilia Romagna, Italy.

It is possible to visit the dairies however it is best to arrive at least the day before since the cheese is only made once a day and it is early in the morning. In the past we organised tours for people staying in Milan or in Florence, and thanks to the high speed trains it is now possible to arrive early in the morning for the visits. Emlia Delizia is a proud organiser of Parmesan cheese tours in Italy from Modena, Bologna and Parma.

Parmesan cheese production area.