Parmigiano Reggiano, the so-called “King of Cheeses,” has been celebrated around the world for centuries because of its distinctive flavor and versatility in different culinary applications. This Italian cheese, originating from the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantova, is strictly regulated under Italian DOP laws, ensuring its production respects traditional methods. One of the most significant aspects of creating this iconic cheese is its lengthy and regulated aging process, which ultimately gives Parmigiano Reggiano its unique flavor profile.
The Art and Science of Aging Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano’s aging process begins immediately after it is formed into wheels and brined in a solution of water and sea salt. From there, the cheese wheels are transferred to aging rooms, where they remain for a minimum period of 12 months, transforming into the flavorful delicacy the world adores.
During the aging process, the microorganisms present in the cheese remain active. Over time, they metabolize the proteins and fats in the cheese, breaking them down into smaller, flavor-packed compounds. As the cheese ages, it loses moisture, causing these compounds to concentrate, which results in an intensified flavor and complex aroma.
The minimum aging period for Parmigiano Reggiano is 12 months. At this stage, the cheese has a soft, elastic structure and a sweet, milky taste. As the cheese continues to mature, its structure steadily becomes grainier, and its flavor, more nuanced. At 24 months, also known as “Vecchio”, you’ll taste hints of pineapple or nuts. Hitting the 36-month mark, or “Stravecchio”, the cheese boasts a rich, grainy texture and a significantly deeper flavor with notes of spices — an absolute delight for cheese connoisseurs.
Benefits of the Aging Process
The aging process not only enhances the taste of Parmigiano Reggiano but also magnifies its nutritional value. As the cheese matures, the bioavailability of its nutrients increases, rendering them more accessible for absorption in the human body. This makes the aged Parmigiano Reggiano a powerhouse of nutrients, packed with high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and zinc, all while remaining easily digestible.
The versatile flavor profile of aged Parmigiano Reggiano makes it a highly coveted addition to numerous dishes. Freshly grated over pasta, slipped into risotto, layered into lasagna, or simply enjoyed on its own in chunks, the cheese adds a gourmet touch to just about any dish.
Cheeses aged for a longer time, such as 36-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano, are characterized by their robust, spicy notes that pair exceptionally well with full-bodied red wines, fresh fruits, and balsamic vinegar. Conversely, younger Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses are more delicate, blending harmoniously with subtle dishes and light, fresh wines.
The aging process of Parmigiano Reggiano transforms this simple cheese into a work of edible art. This time-laden process, steeped in tradition, imparts unique flavors that evolve with each passing month, resulting in a diverse and enchanting array of Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses. From its roots in 12th-century Italy, this cheese has continued to be a beloved staple for hundreds of years, a testament to the transformative power of time and the diligent craftsmanship which dances with it to produce Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmesan cheese, or Parmigiano Reggiano as it’s authentically known, holds an esteemed place in the world of culinary delights. This cherished cheese, handcrafted in specific regions of Italy, offers not just a unique gastronomical experience, but its creation process is a fascinating spectacle in itself. Embark on this immersive journey through the enchanting cheese factories of Italy, where the allure of Parmesan intertwines with the cultural richness and culinary treasures of each city.
Your Parmesan journey naturally begins in Parma, the city lending its name to the celebrated cheese. Here, several ‘caseificios,’ or dairy factories, open their doors to tourists, offering guided tours of the meticulous Parmesan making process. From the initial milking of cows to the fascinating transformation of milk into cheese, followed by the extensive aging process, you’re in for an intriguing experience.
Parma is not just about Parmesan, though. This culturally rich city was named the Italian Capital of Culture in 2020. Visit the renowned Teatro Regio opera house and the stunning Parma Cathedral with its Italian Romanesque architecture. Don’t forget to indulge in the city’s signature dish, “Tortelli d’erbetta,” a delightful pasta filled with ricotta, parmesan, and herbs, served with melted butter.
Your next stop is Reggio Emilia, a city teeming with dairies producing authentic Parmigiano Reggiano. An early morning visit lets you witness the cheese-making process in its full glory, right from the fresh morning milk delivery.
As you soak in the city’s vibrant culture, be sure to explore architectural marvels like the Valli Theatre and the Basilica della Ghiara. Reggio Emilia is also famous for its “Erbazzone,” a savory pie filled with spinach, chard, and of course, Parmesan cheese – an authentic taste of the region you won’t want to miss.
Modena, famous as the birthplace of balsamic vinegar, also takes pride in its Parmesan cheese production. Here, you can witness artisans as they stir massive copper vats of curdling milk and plunge freshly made cheese into a salt bath for flavoring.
After the cheese tour, visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum and the Ferrari Factory if you’re a car enthusiast. Marvel at the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral, Torre della Ghirlandina, and Piazza Grande. While you’re there, enjoy a plate of “Tigelle,” traditional round bread served with a variety of fillings, including cheese, a local delicacy that perfectly embodies the Modena culinary experience.
Mantua and Bologna (designated areas)
The journey continues to specific areas of Mantua and Bologna that also produce Parmesan cheese. Here, you can experience small, family-run farms that have been maintaining Parmesan’s legacy for generations.
In Mantua, visit the Renaissance-era Palazzo Te and the Basilica di Sant’Andrea. The city’s signature dish, “Tortelli di Zucca” (pumpkin ravioli), is a sweet-savory delicacy that will thrill your palate. Bologna, a city renowned for its vibrant food scene, offers landmarks like its medieval towers and the University of Bologna. Do not leave without trying the city’s famous “Tagliatelle al Ragu,” a hearty, slow-cooked meat sauce served over fresh tagliatelle pasta.
As you traverse these regions, you’ll not only gain insight into Parmesan’s artisanal production process but also immerse yourself in the rich culture, historical landmarks, and unique culinary delights of these Italian cities. This journey through the world of Parmesan cheese offers a multi-sensory experience, a testament to the timeless bond between tradition, craftsmanship, and culinary pleasure.
Optimal Seasons for Emilia Romagna Explorations
The Emilia Romagna region, encompassing the cities of Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Modena, offers a wealth of experiences year-round. However, to fully absorb the essence of Parmesan cheese production and the region’s vibrant culture, some seasons stand out as particularly inviting.
Spring (April to June)
Spring is a delightful time to visit Emilia Romagna. As the region bursts into bloom, it’s an excellent season for cheese lovers, as this is when the cows start grazing on fresh grass, contributing to richer, more flavorful milk for cheese production. The weather is typically mild, ideal for sightseeing and leisurely walks through the city streets or the countryside. Spring also sees food festivals celebrating local produce, providing a fantastic opportunity to delve into the regional culinary scene.
Autumn (September to November)
Autumn is another beautiful season to explore Emilia Romagna. The weather is usually pleasant, with the heat of summer subsiding. This time of year, the region is awash with vibrant fall colors, providing a breathtaking backdrop for your travels. Autumn also marks the beginning of the white truffle season, an exquisite delicacy that can be enjoyed at local markets and restaurants. Moreover, in November, the new Parmigiano Reggiano season begins, making it an exciting time to visit the cheese factories.
While summer and winter offer their unique charm, the scorching heat of summer can make touring the cheese factories a bit challenging, and winter may limit your outdoor activities due to shorter daylight hours and colder weather. Nevertheless, the cities of Emilia Romagna remain bustling with cultural and culinary activities throughout the year.
Whether you’re marveling at the cheese-making process, tasting the unique delicacies of each city, or soaking in the rich culture and history, every season brings a different shade of Emilia Romagna to life. So, plan your visit according to your preferences and get ready to be captivated by this enchanting Italian region.
Traveling to the Emilia Romagna region can be quite straightforward, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you can choose from several convenient entry points.
The Emilia Romagna region is serviced by several airports. The Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) is the largest and most connected, with flights from several international and domestic locations. It’s a perfect entry point if you’re beginning your trip in Bologna or planning to explore the southern part of the region.
Parma also has an airport, the Parma Giuseppe Verdi Airport (PMF), though with fewer connections. If you’re planning to start your Parmesan journey directly from Parma, this might be a convenient option.
For visitors traveling from within Europe, the Modena Airport (ZMO) offers several connections. However, it’s primarily used for private and sports flights.
The Emilia Romagna region has an extensive railway network that connects it with other major Italian cities. Bologna’s central train station, Bologna Centrale, is one of the most important railway junctions in Italy. High-speed trains connect Bologna with Milan, Florence, Rome, and Venice, making it easily accessible for those already in Italy or entering from neighboring countries.
If you prefer a scenic drive, Emilia Romagna can be reached by car from other parts of Italy. The region is well-serviced by motorways, like the A1, connecting Milan to Naples, and the A14, connecting Bologna to Taranto.
Once you’re in Emilia Romagna, the transportation options – whether by train, bus, or car – make it easy to hop between the cities of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and beyond. Enjoy planning your journey into the heartland of Parmigiano Reggiano production and the rich cultural and culinary delights that await.
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Experience the culinary magic of Italy with our small-group food tour, taking you on an epicurean adventure from Modena to Bologna. This gastronomic expedition delves into the heart of Italy’s renowned food scene, showcasing the artisanal mastery of Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and delectable ham production. Join our expert guides as they lead you through the picturesque countryside and charming towns of Modena and Bologna, unveiling the secrets of these iconic Italian delights.
Embark on an Unforgettable Culinary Journey in Modena and Bologna
Indulge your senses as you savor the rich flavors of freshly made Parmesan cheese, aged to perfection by skilled artisans, and marvel at the intricate process of crafting the region’s legendary balsamic vinegar. As you explore the world of Italian ham, witness first-hand the passion and dedication of local producers who’ve honed their skills for generations.
Introducing the ultimate value-for-money small group food tour departing from Modena, showcasing the finest Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and ham this region has to offer.
Embark on this all-inclusive food experience, complete with transportation, tastings, and an English-speaking guide, setting off from Modena Central Station or your hotel at 8:30 am. Our culinary adventure is available 7 days a week on most days throughout the year, ensuring you can indulge in the delectable flavors of Modena whenever you choose. The tour concludes back in Modena at approximately 13:00 hours*, leaving you with unforgettable memories of Italy’s gastronomic treasures.
Use Your Own Car For The Duration of The Tour
Use coupon code MYCAR for a 20% off when you use your own car to get to each location.
Use coupon code skip2023 for a 20% off to skip the prosciutto part, the tour will be only parmesan and balsamic, it will be shorter and it will not include the ham part. If you apply this code the tour must end after the balsamic vinegar, you are not allowed to add any of the extras such as lunch at the farm and others.
Tours For The Year 2024
Experience the Artisan Craftsmanship Behind Parmesan, Balsamic, and Ham Production
Please take note of the following.
Monday, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays the tours are automatically upgraded to the prosciutto factory. Therefore on these days of the week the tour will be Parmesan production, balsamic vinegar and the prosciutto factory that also include a generous tasting “light lunch” at prosciutto place.
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays the tour will be Parmesan, balsamic and MUSA, however it will be upgradeable to the prosciutto factory tour as a above, if you wish to upgrade you will need to add this options to your booking.
Sundays the tour will be Parmesan, balsamic and MUSA only. There are no other options for this day of the week.
Tours are available in English only. Private tours are not possible, however our groups are small.
Suggestion: We strongly suggest to come to Modena by train from Bologna, as it is only a 20 minute train ride that costs only 4/7 euros per person, it is quicker than using a car. Coming by car it can take up to one hour due to intense traffic. Check https://www.thetrainline.com/ for details.
It includes 3 stops.
(Parmesan, balsamic and ham and salami) and gourmet tasting with possible additions:
You Can upgrade the prosciutto visit to a full production tour if you choose this upgrade we will visit Prosciuttificio Leonardi or Guerzoni instead of MUSA* . The upgrade is available on Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
Tour begins in Modena at 8.30 am, or 7.30 am in Bologna (extra pick up). The foodie’s delight tour ends at about 13.00* hours in Modena. If you add the winery brunch the tour will finish at 15.30, if you add the cooking class expect to finish at about 16.00.
Visit to Villani’s Salami world famous Parma ham, mortadella and prosciutto San Daniele with guided tour and tasting directly at the Salami Factory in Modena. See Musa for info.
Cured meat tasting at the end of the tour included in the price*.
Additional extra available during booking.
Pay by credit card, Paypal.
Prices: Please use the booking calendar below to price your tour, and do not forget to push the “continue button” to display all the options of the tour.
Optional Extra Add On.
NEW: Now you can upgrade the prosciutto ham visit, with a little extra you can visit a full prosciutto facility at prosciuttificio, instead of the MUSA. Just start the booking and on the second page you can choose this upgrade. In this the tour will include Parmesan, balsamic and a full prosciutto ham producer with a generous tasing.
Bologna one way pick up. We will pick you up from your hotel at these location and after the tour we drop off in Modena where you can explore the town, visit the Ferrari Museum or just continue your journey from the well connected station*.
If you want to drive your own car add “mycar” as coupon at the check out for some money off.
Add the Maranello free drop off if you want to see the Ferrari Museum at no additional charge from us. You will be able to continue your journey with the shuttles buses running from the museum to Modena train station (and Casa Enzo Ferrari).
About this tour.
In summary, our value-packed small group food tour from Modena offers a unique and memorable opportunity to explore the captivating world of Italian cuisine. Unveiling the secrets of Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and ham production, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the region’s rich culinary heritage. Don’t miss the chance to savor the authentic tastes of Italy and create cherished memories as you journey through the enchanting landscapes of Modena and Bologna. Book your unforgettable food tour today and indulge in the unparalleled flavors that have made these regions famous around the world.
To address some frequently asked questions, we’d like to clarify the following:
Our food tours are conducted EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH, offering an accessible and enjoyable experience for our international guests. Departure points for our tours include Modena train station, central Modena hotels, Bologna train station, and Bologna hotels, ensuring convenience for all participants.
With morning tour pick-ups scheduled at approximately 8:30 am in Modena and 7:30 am in Bologna, our tours are carefully timed to provide an immersive experience. Should the morning tour timings not suit your schedule, consider joining our delightful afternoon aperitivo tours.
Our Foodie’s Delight tours are designed for small groups, providing a personalized experience. During the low season, you may even find yourself on a semi-private tour. Please note that we do not offer fully private tours for this package.
For pricing information, kindly use the calendar available on our website to generate a self-quote. Email inquiries for quotes will be redirected to this page for self-quotation.
With these clarifications in mind, we invite you to embark on an unforgettable culinary journey through the enchanting landscapes of Modena and Bologna, experiencing the authentic tastes of Italy’s gastronomic treasures
Some small print.
*ending times are estimates, guests should not have imminent travel arrangements right after the tour.
*lunch and cooking classes, pick ups and other extra are options and not included in the default price of the foodie’s delight tour. These options are displayed as you progress in the booking. Lunch must booked at least 48 hours in advance. Cooking class & lunch not available on Sundays.
*When we say small and semi private tour the mean that: we use small people carrier vans to take our guests around, our tour will be always in small groups, and personable and we will always make best effort to maintain it this way, however during busy periods on and around Italian national holidays the ham location might have company events and other larger group of guests visiting at the same time, this happens only very occasionally. Time of tour are estimates delays might occur. When booking this tour you also agree to these terms and conditions we strongly suggest to avoid making booking if this factors are an issue for you.
*during Italian national holidays and the covid emergency till further notice the tasting might not be available and a high quality cured meat gourmet take away gift will be given to the participants.
*Monday to Thursday is Leonardi and Friday and Saturday is Guerzoni. This also depends on our planning and producer availability, when you book the upgrade you acknlowdge this. Clients cannot choose the prosciuttificio, it will be either or.