Travel Tips

The Parmesan cheese tour – Parma: Parmigiano Reggiano Factory departing from Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia.

How to see the Parmesan production at a dairy in Italy.

Parmesan cheese is produced only once a day and you will find it only in a small area in northern Italy. In fact it is mainly produced in Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilila however there are some producers in the Bologna and Mantua provinces. To see the production it is recommended to arrive at the dairy between 8.15 am and 9.30 in case there is a possibility to see larger producers where the cheese making process ends later. The visit lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Guests will be able to see with their eyes the whole process, from raw milk, the making of the curds, the brine process and the ageing cellars. There are about 300 dairies in the DOP production areas and Emilia Delizia has selected some of the best places to see the cheese making. We visit family owned businesses or organic cooperatives where the Parmean or Parmigiano Reggiano as we call it in Italy. The milks come from cows owned by the producers in the area, and this milk must reach the dairy within 2 hours as it is specified by the consortium. Parmesan cheese is then aged for a minimum of 12 months before receiving an inspection and only then if it is approved it become a DOP product and it can be sold as Parmigiano Reggiano. Emilia Delizia can organise a tour of the facility that produce the cheese, normally we can pick up the client from their hotel from Bologna at 7.15 am, or from Modena and Parma at 8.15 am. We can organise a car with driver to pick you up and an English speaking guide, however if you have your own car we can set you an itinerary that you can follow and save money on the chauffeur fees. 20120512-213008.jpg

Parmesan Dairies To Visit On Your Own Around Modena

One of the pleasures of travelling through Italy most definitely lays in its food, especially when enjoyed in unique and picturesque settings. Emilia Romagna has a lot to offer in the way of traditional cuisine, most local dishes have made it worldwide and their success now graces the dining tables of all food enthusiasts around the world.

When enjoying local cuisine with simple or complex dishes – be it at a restaurant, a trattoria or in other such places that celebrate foodies’ needs with great food from the tradition of Emilia Romagna cooking – keep in mind that some of the ingredients you’re tasting are locally sourced and belong to the very history and culture of the Italian region. This is the case for the fames Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, for several kinds of ham and cold cuts made in the area, and is also true for Parmesan cheese.

While it is also employed in several dishes throughout Italy and abroad, and is enjoyed as a topping for pasta and other foods everywhere in the world, Parmesan is notably known in Emilia Romagna as a traditional cheese that can be tasted on its own. As it’s true for many different kinds of dairy products that can be found on a cheese platter, Parmesan can (and should – at least once in one’s life) be eaten as a standalone experience, but not many tourists think about doing this during their trip to Italy.
Foodies are more likely to know about this, but everyone should experience Parmesan in its pure form, and going to visit a dairy where the cheese is produced is the perfect way to sample the goods and marvel at the production process and cutting method employed for this Emilia Romagna treasure.

Here are some dairies in the province of Modena that you can visit for tastings, guided tours of the facility, and to shop Parmesan, local products and souvenirs.

Società Agricola Montorsi

This dairy is located just outside Modena and as such can be easily reached if you’re already visiting the city proper. Founded in 1949, this dairy has perfected the production of Parmigiano cheese and the raw materials are all locally sourced, to achieve Parmesan aged for up to 36 months where the milk employed hasn’t suffered any losses in quality through the supply chain.
The dairy, opened every day from 8:30 to 12:30 and from 15:30 to 19:30 (open only from 8:30 to 9:30 on Sundays for a brief stop to shop for Parmesan and more), offers a variety of guided tours and tastings for locals and tourists (also in English and with audio guides available).
Tourists will be able to choose from breakfast tours, a daily tour (with a visit of the Parmesan dairy factory, a vinegar place and lunch at a local restaurant) or other events such as a workshop weekend where visitors will take part to the production of the cheese and learn more about local culture. Please see antica latteria ducale for info.

Caseificio Rosola

Located near the city of Zocca, in the province of Modena, this dairy factory can be visited throughout the week (it’s closed on Mondays and on Friday afternoons, opening hours are 9:00-12:30 and 16:00-19:00). Since the location varies from other dairies closer to the city of Modena, in here you’ll be able to find products related to the mountain territory. Here you’ll be able to sample and purchase a type of Parmesan made from the milk of a white- coated breed of cow from the territory of Modena.

Caseificio San Pietro

The dairy is located near the city of Sassuolo and you can book guided tours of the entire production line of Parmesan, or experience the single phases of the process such as the preparation of the milk and the cheese, the storing area and learn about the aging process. In the dairy’s shop you’ll be able to sample and purchase Parmigiano cheese. Please see their site.

Caseificio 4 Madonne

Through booking, it’s possible to take part to guided tours every day, and they will last 1-1 and a half hours. depending on the type of tasting experience you choose, which will include sampling Parmesan with different aging periods, local cold cuts, balsamic vinegar, wines and more. You’ll have a chance to explore the history and production process of the cheese through the dairy, and you’ll witness the incredible storage for the Parmesan cheese wheels. More info here.

Caseificio Belvedere

This dairy is located further from Modena, but still retains those aspects of the city’s culture and tradition, with a different spin. Near the towns of Maserno and Montese, the Caseificio Belvedere offers the usual tours and tastings of Parmesan along with other peculiar culinary experiences of the Apennines. In the dairy’s shop, you’ll find local produce, Parmesan cheese and more.

 

 

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Parma ham tour – A visit to a prosciutto factory in the gourmet food capital of Italy

The Parma ham tour – Prosciutto di Parma – producer tour Emilia Romagna.

Emilia Delizia as part our our culinary tours will take you to Langhirano to visit one of the Parma ham producers. Prosciutto di Parma is traditionally cured on the bone, and the ingredients are, pork leg, salt, the right climate conditions and the patience and the ability of the master salter. We will visit the production facility in details and we will learn about each step of the production.

Our clients learn how Parma ham is made during the tours.

To make Parma ham only the  back leg of Italian born and risen heavy pigs are used. The animal are fed according the strict diet of the consortium that is aslo supplemented  with cheese whey coming for the production of Parmigiano Reggiano. The legs are sent to Langhirano in the province of Parma to become the famous Parma ham. The curing process starts immediately and the meat is salted once and stored in refrigerated cells for 5 days. Here the meat will lose water  and absorb the salt. Then the meat is washed and salted again for a second time and placed in a even colder cell, at this stage the temperature is just above the freezing point.  The ham makers use as little salt as possible to obtain a sweet cure that makes the Parma ham famous worldwide.

The pre-ageing phase will last for about 100 days, then the legs will be “manicured” to turn them into the classic pear shaped Parma hams, in other words all excess meat, fat and bone are trimmed off. From here onwards the hams will stay in the curing cellars until they are 12 months old. Each ham will be inspected by the consortium for approval by using a needle of horse bone. The probe is inserted in the 5 critical points where the meat might go wrong. The inspector probe each point and as he extract the needle he smells the tip. If they are approved they will receive the five star crown emblem of the Duchy of Parma, and then they become the world wide famous cured meat that we all know.

Emilia Delizia and Prosciutto factory tour in Parma.

Emilia Delizia will be pleased to take you to the producers in Parma, this tour can be part of our full day 3 gourmet food tour in Italy. Guests normally start their journey in Parma, Modena or Bologna. We can organise a self drive tour or a chauffeured one with English speaking guide and gourmet lunch. Our lunch is a sumptuous one, a 3 course meal that includes generous tasting of cured meats including Parma ham form the factory we just visited. The meal will continue with Tortelli alla Parmigiana (stuffed egg pasta), home made desserts. Coffee and digestive liquors.

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prosciutto di Parma facotry tour in Parma Italy

Traditional balsamic vinegar tour in Modena

How to visit a traditional balsamic vinegar producer in Modena – Emilia Romagna – Italy.

Emilia Delizia can take you to tour a traditional ACETAIA as we call the traditional balsamic vinegar producer here in Modena. Most visitors will be surprised by the difference between the “regular” or industrial balsamic vinegar and the DOP traditional balsamic vinegar that it is produced only in private houses in Modena and Reggio Emilia. Traditionally a batch of new balsamic vinegar was only started at the birth of a baby girl and it would become her dowry when she would marry. In the past centuries the aceto balsamico was only used within the family and sometimes given to important guests. It is said that the Duke of Modena had his own important vinegar attic, in his palace, important people would be introduced to the delights of the black gold when visiting Modena by the ducal family. As part of our tours we can take people to visit private villas and houses where this black nectar is still produced in small quantities in the most traditional way.

How Balsamic vinegar is made in Modena.

Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is made from initially reducing organic grape juice (must) to about 30% by just simmering the product for about 24 hours, this is to increase the sugar content in the juice. It is important to never reach the boiling point  in order to preserve the friendly bacteria that are already present in the liquid. This is done at harvest time between September and October the grape  must is obtained from Lambrusco and Trebbiano grapes. To age the vinegar a set of barrel is required. A mother barrel usually the lager in a set of 4,5 or 6 increasingly smaller barrels, all made of different woods such as  acacia, ash, chestnut, mulberry, cherry. From this moment in autumn it will take at least 12 years of painstakingly topping the evaporated must from the last but one barrel to the last one, and the repeating the sequence from the last but two to the last but one and so on until the mother barrel is then topped up with fresh grape must. No vinegar will be drawn for at least 12 years to obtain at least the “younger balsamic vinegar”.

How to use traditional balsamic vinegar.

The tradition wants that the precious black nectar obtained by the natural concentration of the flavours is used as a digestive at the end of the meal. It is best consumed on plastic or ceramic spoon as metal it is very cold and it would lower the sensory experience.

12 years old traditional balsamic vinegar.

It has more acidity than the other vintages and the sweetness is more subtle. You will soon find out that the favours of the woods are felt on different parts of your tongue and mouth. This balsamic vinegar is particularly indicated on fresher cheeses such as ricotta or mozzarella. You can also add to meat or fish dishes. The important that is used sparingly and only added the end of cooking.

The extra old vintage 24 years old traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena

The acidity decreases and the sweetness is more present, but it is not a flat sugary sensation, it is actually very complex. On your tongue you feel the taste of the blended wood tannins  such as the spiciness of juniper or the sweetness of the cherry wood. At this age it is a perfect match for aged cheese such as Parmesan or even for desserts: straberries, chocolate and ice creams.

28 YEARS OLD VINEGAR and over – Only in the Reggio Emilia province.

Only produced and marketed at this age in the Reggio Emilia. At this point the vinegar has lost a lot of its acidity and it the wood and the sweetness becomes even more accentuated, almost like a sweet complex black nectar. It is best consumed at the end of the meal as a digestive. The province of Reggio Emilia is also a producer of Traditional balsamic vinegar due to the proximity to Modena. The tradition was brought in Reggio Emilia as many women were marring across the 2 provinces bringing their dowry with them. During our Balsamic vinegar tour it is possible to visit Reggio Emilia producer and discover the 3 ageing typical of the area. If you want to learn more about Reggio Emilia culinary tradition please continue reading here.

Balsamic Vinegar Places You Can Visit On Your Own

If you’re an all-round foodie or just love food, there are some things that you can do during your stay in Italy that are food-related and are sure to enhance your experience. Besides trying out the local cuisine and all the traditional dishes available to you, there are activities you can do to fully immerse in the world of Emilia Romagna’s food. Restaurants are a thing you really cannot miss (you’re bound to end up eating out during your vacation, and there’s plenty of excellent places to choose from), but you can also go to local producers to sample ingredients and dishes made with them for a full-on experience. And while you’re looking through reviews and suggestions from fellow foodies on great places that offer food tasting experiences, don’t forget about other pleasures available to you. For example, wine tasting tours are a great idea – as are tours of balsamic vinegar places.
Balsamic vinegar might just be a condiment, but if you get deeper into the local culture, you’ll discover that balsamic vinegar in Emilia Romagna is a whole different deal: it’s tradition, it’s pride in local ingredients, it’s about employing processing methods passed down through generations. In short, visiting the place of production of balsamic vinegar will give you a glimpse into the history of this part of Italy, and there are several options to choose from when it comes to where you’re supposed to go to have a taste of Emilia Romagna.

Villa San Donnino

Villa San Donnino is located in a liberty-style villa just outside Modena, the birthplace of Balsamic Vinegar, this will be a very picturesque destination if you want to enjoy the history of this product in a suggestive environment. Since the certified DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is produced throughout a very limited and controlled area of Emilia Romagna, it’s something that can truly be sampled only when in this type of location. The Acetaia Villa San Donnino would be a great choice for your balsamic vinegar tasting tour, or shopping and booking through the website is recommended . Once there, you’ll have a chance to see the traditional production methods for the vinegar and taste it paired with great local dishes.

Acetaia Di Giorgio

On their website it’s possible to book a visit to this acetaia (vinegar processing place) to, once again, see how the vinegar is produced, get in touch with the history of this excellent traditional product, sample and purchase DOP Balsamic Vinegar – right at the heart of the beautiful city of Modena. The Acetaia di Giorgio is a tiny balsamic vinegar place, family-owned and with a focus on how the vinegar truly is a legacy passed through the generations.

La Vecchia Dispensa

Another great place you can visit to explore the world of DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is this acetaia, located in Castelvetro di Modena. The acetaia offers guided tours and tastings of different products that can also be purchased at the shop, along with local jams, spirits, wines, sweets and other products from Modena to pair with the vinegar. Mailing the acetaia will allow you to book a tour but also to find out about special events held by La Vecchia Dispensa, such as lunches in the acetaia, cooking classes and hikes through the vineyards.

Acetaia Malpighi

In this acetaia, you will be able to go on a tour of the place, guided by experts, to discover the secrets of the production of this interesting local condiment. During the tour, you’ll learn more about the history of the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, the techniques employed to achieve the final product, and you’ll have a chance to taste the vinegar. Groups of 10 people or more can arrange a special tour, which includes a vinegar and local food tasting, so you’ll be able to sample cold cuts, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, baked goods and wine typical of Modena all in the same package, for an all-round culinary experience.

Acetaia Bompana

Free tastings are held on every opening day in the Acetaia Bompana, and you can book tours if you want to learn about the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, other than just sampling it in all of its amazing shades of taste. The vinegar can be used in many different ways to enhance dishes, or can just be drizzled on a piece of Parmigiano cheese. This acetaia, like the other certified ones in the area of Modena, is the perfect place to sample the excellence of this traditional and local product. Purchasing some balsamic vinegar for yourself at the outlets annexed to the acetaie will guarantee top quality and an unforgettable taste of Modena to bring back home with you.

 

 

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Balsamic vinegar barrels
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Ampules containing balsamic vinegar “Tradizionale” for tasting