What to Expect on a Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Factory Tour.


Parmigiano-Reggiano, often referred to as the “King of Cheeses,” is a staple in Italian cuisine and a favorite around the world. Originating from the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy regions of Italy, this cheese has a long and rich history. If you’re a cheese enthusiast or just curious about how this iconic product is made, a tour of a Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese factory is an experience you won’t want to miss. Here’s what you can expect when you embark on this cheesy adventure.

The Setting: Where Tradition Meets Technology

As you step into the factory, you’ll be welcomed by the aroma of freshly made cheese, mingling with the smell of clean wood and sterilized stainless steel. The atmosphere is a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity, where skilled artisans use both ancient techniques and state-of-the-art equipment to produce this culinary masterpiece.

Dressing Up Stage.

Visitors to the Parmigiano Reggiano production facility must wear disposable gowns and shoe covers to ensure hygiene and safety. These protective garments help maintain a clean environment, preventing contamination during the cheese-making process. This attention to cleanliness is essential in preserving the high quality of the cheese.

The Tour Itinerary: From Milk to Wheel

Milk Collection and Testing

Your tour will likely begin with a visit to the area where fresh milk is collected. You’ll learn about the strict quality controls that ensure only the best milk from local cows is used. This is the foundation of the Parmigiano-Reggiano’s unique taste and texture.

The Cheese Vat

Next, you’ll move to the cheese-making area where large copper vats hold the curdling milk. These vats are a unique feature in Parmigiano Reggiano production, as copper is not typically allowed in food production due to its reactive nature. However, copper’s exceptional heat conductivity makes it ideal for the precise temperature control required in the cheese-making process. Here, the cheese master will explain how the milk is carefully heated and mixed with natural whey and rennet to initiate the curdling process. This combination of ingredients causes the milk to coagulate, forming curds. The use of copper vats, despite being unconventional, is a traditional practice that enhances the texture and flavor of the final product, showcasing the balance between modern food safety standards and time-honored methods.

The Ancient Ritual of Spinatura (Spinning)

The journey begins with spinning, one of the oldest and most significant actions performed by cheese makers. This process, which involves breaking the curd, is a testament to the importance of experience and skilled craftsmanship in cheese making. Before spinning can commence, selecting the right forage and milk is crucial as these elements lay the foundation for successful coagulation of casein, the primary protein in milk.

The cheese maker’s role is pivotal at this stage. By combining experience with precise manual skills, the cheese maker determines the exact moment to stop the coagulation process and break the curd using a tool called the “spino.” This step is vital to ensure the curd granules are of the correct size, comparable to rice grains, and are ready for the subsequent cooking stage.

Perfecting the Cooking Process

Following the spinning, the delicate phase of cooking begins. This stage, steeped in tradition, involves the steam cooking of the curd granules. Master cheese makers have perfected this method over hundreds of years, ensuring that each batch of Parmigiano Reggiano meets exacting standards. The cooking process must adhere to precise guidelines, particularly regarding temperature and moisture content.

The ideal cooking temperature is approximately 55° Celsius (131° Fahrenheit). During cooking, the cheese maker must meticulously monitor the drying of the granules. If the granules retain too much moisture, the final cheese will not preserve well; if they are too dry, the cheese will not form a homogeneous mixture. This balance is critical to achieving the perfect texture and flavor of Parmigiano Reggiano.

In this image, an artisan is seen carefully cutting the curd inside a large copper vat during the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese-making process. The artisan, dressed in a white uniform and cap, leans over the vat with focused precision, using a sharp knife to slice through the curd. The curd is suspended in a cloth, which is secured to a metal rod placed across the vat.

In this image, an artisan is seen carefully cutting the curd inside a large copper vat during the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese-making process. The artisan, dressed in a white uniform and cap, leans over the vat with focused precision, using a sharp knife to slice through the curd. The curd is suspended in a cloth, which is secured to a metal rod placed across the vat.

This stage, known as “cutting the twins,” involves dividing the large lump of curd into two exact parts. This precise division is crucial for ensuring the proper texture and consistency of the cheese. By making these exact cuts, the artisan helps to release whey from the curd, allowing it to form the granular structure characteristic of Parmigiano Reggiano. The cloth holds the curd together, facilitating its transformation into the final cheese form as it undergoes further processing and aging. The artisan’s expertise and attention to detail are evident in every movement, underscoring the traditional craftsmanship that defines this revered cheese.


The artisans, dressed in white uniforms and caps, embody the expertise and dedication required in this centuries-old process. Their synchronized movements reflect the precision necessary to handle the curd delicately, ensuring the cheese develops its distinctive texture and flavor. Each step, from stirring to transferring the curd, is executed with practiced skill and attention to detail, highlighting the artisans’ deep understanding of the cheese-making craft. Their commitment to maintaining the high standards of Parmigiano Reggiano production ensures that each wheel meets the stringent quality requirements, preserving the legacy and tradition of this renowned cheese.

The Tools of Parmigiano Reggiano Making


The spannarola is a unique and vital tool used to handle the curd. It is a large, metal mesh net with a removable handle. The spannarola is used to divide the curd and form the characteristic shape of Parmigiano Reggiano wheels. The size and mesh of the spannarola are designed to ensure the curd particles are evenly sized, which is essential for the uniform texture of the cheese.

How It’s Used:

Once the milk has curdled, the cheesemaker inserts the spannarola into the vat and moves it gently to gather the curd particles together. This movement helps in forming large masses of curd, which are then divided into two equal parts using the spannarola.


The spino is a thin, steel needle with a rounded tip, used for breaking up the curd during the final stages of production. It is designed to separate the curd into smaller, uniform pieces without damaging the delicate texture.

How It’s Used:

During the final stage of curdling, the spino is inserted into the vat, and the cheesemaker uses circular motions to break the curd into finer granules. This ensures that the curd is evenly distributed, which is crucial for the aging process and the final texture of the cheese.

Fascera Identificativa di Caseina (Casein Identifying Band)

The fascera is used immediately after the curds are shaped into wheels. This band is placed around the young cheese wheels to imprint essential information such as the production date, dairy number, and the “Parmigiano Reggiano” inscription. This identification is crucial for tracing the cheese back to its origin and ensuring it meets the standards of the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano.

How It’s Used:

After the curds are formed into wheels and removed from the linen cloths, they are placed into the fascera. The band imprints the required information onto the cheese, which remains visible throughout its aging process.

Martelletto (Hammer)

The martelletto is a small hammer used by quality inspectors to test the cheese wheels during the aging process. By tapping the wheel with the martelletto, inspectors can detect any internal defects or inconsistencies in texture.

How It’s Used:

Inspectors use the martelletto to gently tap various parts of the cheese wheel. The sound produced helps them determine if the cheese has aged properly or if there are any imperfections that need attention.

Molding and Brining

The mass of curd is then divided and placed into circular molds, where it takes on its characteristic wheel shape. After a brief resting period, the wheels are submerged in a brine solution to absorb salt and develop a rind.


This is a Parmesan cheese pre aging room with numerous wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano in stainless steel molds, lined up on wooden shelves. The room features tiled walls and floors, creating a clean and sanitary environment essential for the cheese maturation process. Each cheese wheel is tightly encased in a mold to maintain its shape during the early stages of aging. The orderly arrangement highlights the careful and methodical approach taken in the production and aging of Parmigiano Reggiano, ensuring each wheel develops its distinct flavor and texture over time.


The image shows wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese submerged in a large, rectangular brine bath. The cheese wheels are stacked in rows within the white-walled tank, which is filled with saltwater, essential for the cheese’s flavor development and preservation. The cheese wheels have blue markings on their surfaces, indicating batch or production details. A wooden paddle and a bucket are seen on the side, likely used for stirring or handling the cheese during the brining process. The room is be part of a cheese production facility.

Aging Rooms

Perhaps the most magical part of the tour is the aging room, where rows upon rows of cheese wheels sit on wooden shelves, maturing to perfection. Here, you’ll learn about the aging process, which can last from 12 to over 36 months.

The maturation of Parmigiano Reggiano is a delicate phase where the cheese develops its unique organoleptic characteristics and grainy texture. This process makes the cheese more digestible, transforming caseins into simple amino acids through milk enzymes, thus making it suitable for individuals with allergies or intolerances. Moreover, the length of maturation significantly impacts the cheese’s taste and aroma, creating various types of Parmigiano.

The minimum maturation period is 12 months, the shortest allowed by the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium to earn the DOP label. At this stage, the cheese is soft and smooth, with a fresh milk and butter flavor mixed with herbal notes. However, it’s still relatively undeveloped, lacking the depth and structure characteristic of aged Parmigiano. It’s ideal for cold dishes, salads, or appetizers, best paired with a light, sparkling white wine.

At 22-24 months, Parmigiano begins to exhibit its signature flavor, marked by small white dots indicating tyrosine crystals, a sign of proper maturation. The cheese has a buttery and exotic fruit aroma, considered the optimal age for enjoying its full taste, often recommended to be eaten alone with medium-bodied wines.

Parmigiano aged 30 months, known as “stravecchio,” has a drier texture and a pronounced flavor, becoming more crumbly and suitable for grating as it reaches 36 months. The longest maturation can extend beyond 40 months, where the cheese develops a strong, almost spicy flavor with nutmeg and black pepper hints, leading to an intense taste experience. Some exceptional varieties are aged up to 70 months, releasing unique, intense aromas, perfect for pure tasting with robust wines.

Recognizing the maturity of Parmigiano Reggiano is made easier by the Consortium’s color-coded labels: Lobster-colored for over 18 months, Silver for over 22 months, and Gold for over 30 months, ensuring consumers can identify the cheese’s maturation stage accurately.

Tasting Session

No tour would be complete without a tasting session. Savor the nuanced flavors of Parmigiano-Reggiano at different stages of maturation, often accompanied by local wines or balsamic vinegar.

Souvenir Shop

Before you leave, don’t forget to stop by the souvenir shop to pick up a wheel or wedge of freshly made Parmigiano-Reggiano. You may also find other local products like pasta, olive oil, and even cheese-making kits for the aspiring artisan in you.

Modena and Parma have the most Parmigiano Reggiano Diaries.

In the world of Parmigiano-Reggiano, two names consistently rise above the rest: Modena and Parma. Located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, these provinces are home to the highest concentration of dairies specializing in the production of this illustrious cheese. But why are these areas so densely populated with dairies, and what makes them the epicenters of Parmigiano-Reggiano production? This chapter delves into the unique attributes that make Modena and Parma the cheese capitals of the world.

The Perfect Terroir

Geographical Significance

Modena and Parma are strategically located in a zone that offers a unique blend of fertile soil, high-quality water sources, and optimal climatic conditions. This ‘terroir’ is not just a fancy term; it’s the secret sauce that makes Parmigiano-Reggiano from these provinces truly exceptional.

Climatic Conditions

The weather in Modena and Parma, marked by cold winters and warm summers, plays a significant role in the quality of the milk produced. Seasonal variations influence the composition of local flora, which, in turn, affects the diet of dairy cows. The result is milk rich in proteins and nutrients, perfect for cheese-making.

Here some Daries in Parma and Modena that accept visits.


Società Agricola Saliceto

Location: Via Toscanini, 3 – Mulazzano Ponte – 43037 Lesignano de’ Bagni (PR)
Price: €15 per person for groups up to 10; €10 per person for larger groups
Point of Sale: Yes

Società Agricola Saliceto is known for its traditional methods of cheese-making. The guided tour offers an in-depth look into the art of crafting Parmigiano-Reggiano, making it a perfect introduction for newcomers.

Reggiani Roberto

Location: VIA F. BARACCA N. 6/A – 41013 Castelfranco Emilia (MO)
Price: €20 per person, includes tastings of three seasonings of organic Parmigiano-Reggiano, organic ricotta, and organic fresh natural products
Point of Sale: Yes

Located in Modena, Reggiani Roberto specializes in organic Parmigiano-Reggiano. The tasting session is a highlight, offering a variety of organic cheeses that are hard to find elsewhere.

Società Agricola Bertinelli Gianni e Nicola

Location: STRADA PEDEMONTANA 2 – 43015 Noceto (PR)
Price: €50 in total for groups of 2 people, €20 per person for groups of 3 or more, €10 per child
Point of Sale: Yes

This dairy offers not just a tour but also a comprehensive tasting session, making it ideal for those who wish to understand the nuances of Parmigiano-Reggiano flavors.

Cooperativa Sociale di Soragna

Location: STRADA PER DIOLO, 118 – 43019 Soragna (PR)
Price: Not specified
Point of Sale: Yes

This cooperative is a community-led venture that offers tours to educate the public about their local cheese-making traditions.

Caseificio Ugolotti

Location: VIA MARCO EMILIO LEPIDO, 72 – 43123 Parma (PR)
Price: €17 for adults, free for children under 6, €12 for children aged 7-12
Point of Sale: Yes

Offering guided tours in English, Caseificio Ugolotti is a popular choice among international visitors. The ticket price includes a tasting session.

Caseificio di Gavasseto e Roncadella

Location: VIA SAGACIO MUTI, 2 – GAVASSETO – 42122 Reggio Nell’emilia (RE)
Price: €5 for adults, €1 for children
Point of Sale: Yes

This dairy is known for its affordability, making it a great option for families and large groups.

Latteria Sociale San Pier Damiani

Location: STRADA GAZZANO, 35/A – 43122 Parma (PR)
Price: €20 per person, free for children up to 12
Point of Sale: Yes

Focused on delivering a comprehensive experience, this dairy offers guided tours and a tasting session included in the ticket price.

Società Agricola Giansanti

Location: STRADA TRAVERSETOLO, 228 – 43123 Parma (PR)
Price: €20 for adults, €10 for boys aged 6-13, free for children under 5
Point of Sale: Yes

This dairy offers a tiered pricing system based on age, making it a family-friendly option.

Latteria Soc.Coop.Va La Grande Castelnovo Sotto

Location: VIA CASE MELLI, 80 – 42024 Castelnovo di Sotto (RE)
Price: €15 for adults, €8 for children up to 17
Point of Sale: Yes

Known for its cooperative approach, this dairy provides a glimpse into community-driven cheese production.


A tour of a Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese factory is not just a feast for the senses; it’s an education in the art and science of one of the world’s most cherished foods. Whether you’re a cheese aficionado or a casual foodie, this tour offers a unique and enriching experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the “King of Cheeses.”

So, are you ready to book your tour and immerse yourself in the world of Parmigiano-Reggiano? Trust us, it’s an experience that’s worth every moment and every mouthful.