One of the pleasures of travelling through Italy most definitely lies in its food, especially when enjoyed in unique and picturesque settings. Emilia Romagna (known as Food Valley) 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.
Parmesan cheese is produced only once a day and you will find it only in a small area in northern Italy. There are about 300 dairies in the DOP production areas and one of the best places to see the cheese making is “Casearia Corradi“, a small family factory.
To see the production it is recommended to arrive at the dairy at 8.00 am. The visit lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes and they offer the tour in English. You will be able to see with your eyes the whole process, from raw milk, the making of the curds, the brine process and the ageing cellars.
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 becomes a DOP product and it can be sold as Parmigiano Reggiano.
At the end of the tour you’ll also have the chance to taste Parmigiano-Reggiano of different ages and buy it in their store.
The visit costs 10€ per person and is free for children under 15. Here is the website for the factory: website
In the afternoon, you can visit the historical centre of Parma.
You might know Parma best for prosciutto and Parmesan and rightfully so. These two most famous exports could be the reason for visit Parma – yet not only.
Parma is full of art and beautiful places to visit. You can easily walk around Parma: all the museums are 5 minutes far from each other, the highlights not to miss are the ones inside the Pilotta Palace, with one ticket to visit the Farnese theatre, the Archaeological museum and the National gallery.
Even the Chamber of Saint Paul is worth a visit, it’s a monastery room frescoed by Correggio: a real treasure.
Piazza Duomo is a must stop, where you can visit the Baptistery and the Cathedral. Another beautiful corner, close to Piazza Duomo, is Piazzale San Francesco with the Cusani palace where is the House of Music, not far from there, there is also the House of Sound, located in the deconsecrated church of (both are free of charge).
Food Valley Travel Tips – Emilia Romagna
- Make a reservation or book a tour if you want to visit a Parmesan Factory. It is not easy to visit the production of Parmesan, it depends on their availability.
- The Tourist office of Parma organizes food tours with departure from Piazza Garibaldi every day to see the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello, Wines, Balsamic vinegar.
- Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano in Soragna, a village about 30 km West of Parma, where you can also visit the Castle Rocca Meli Lupi.
- Do not leave Parma without having tasted (and purchased) their gastronomic products that contributed to give Parma the title of the Creative City of Gastronomy Unesco! Try “Salumeria Garibaldi”: head to this gastronomic hideaway and pick up Parma’s best cured meats: culatello and aged Parmesan. It’s also a wonderful place to grab a quick lunch of fresh pasta.
- For a typical dinner: “Ristorante La Forchetta” in Parma, serves traditional Parmesan dishes in a sleek modern dining room, even though it’s situated in the one of the oldest palazzos in the city. The menu is varied, from flavourful tortellini dishes such as “tortelli d’erbetta al burro” to the hearty veal with oven baked potatoes. There are only 65 seats, so be sure to make a reservation before you arrive
- Wear jeggings or a few pairs of stretchy pants /skirts and make reservations in advance for the restaurants you really want to try as they get busy. You’ll thank me later as you slowly breathe in all the goodness this elegant city has to offer.
- Market: On Tuesday and Saturday morning in the historical centre, there’s the farmers market, where it is possible to buy directly from the producers.
- Don’t miss: Parma Ham Festival, a chance to taste Parma’s favourite prosciutto at local ham farms which can be reached via shuttle bus. September 1-5th
Best Times to Visit the Food Valley- Emilia Romagna
The best time to visit the Food Valley is September through November or March through May.