Parmigiano Reggiano: King of cheeses!

Parmigiano Reggiano is produced exclusively in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna to the left of the Reno River and Mantua to the right of the Po River: this is where the farms are concentrated, where the cows are fed fodder produced in this area. Feeding of the animals is taken care of in compliance with a regulation that prevents the use of silage fodder, fermented feed and animal meal.

One cannot then pass through Bologna Modena without having tasted its famous Parmesan cheese. An unmissable culinary food experience in Italy to discover some of the secrets of its production is to visit one of the dairy on our Bologna or Modena food tours.


Milk from the previous morning and evening is poured into typical copper cauldrons shaped like inverted bells. Each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano requires about 550 liters of milk

The milk is coagulated slowly and naturally by the addition of rennet and the whey graft obtained from the previous day’s processing and rich in natural milk enzymes.

The curd is fragmented by the master cheese maker into tiny granules using an ancient tool called a spino.

It is at this point that the fire enters the scene, for a cooking process that reaches 55 degrees centigrade, at the end of which the caseous granules precipitate to the bottom of the boiler, forming a single mass.

After about fifty minutes, the cheesemaker extracts the caseous mass that will give rise to twin wheels.

Cut into two parts and wrapped in the typical linen cloth, the cheese is placed in a form that will give it its final shape.

The minimum aging period is 12 months, the longest among all PDO cheeses, and it is only at that point that it will be possible to say whether each individual wheel will be able to keep the name that was originally stamped on it and thus continue aging up to 24, 36, 40 months and beyond.

After 12 months have elapsed, the Consortium’s experts check all the wheels through an examination called “expertisation”: the wheel is beaten with a hammer and the attentive ear of the expert beater recognizes any internal defects that may interfere with quality.


  • Each wheel is assigned a casein plate with a unique, progressive alphanumeric code: it is the identity card that at any time and in any place makes it possible to identify its origin.
  • In the Middle Ages, Cistercian and Benedictine monks, driven by the search for a cheese that would last, were the first producers. The first records of its commercialization date back to the 1200s.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano is a 100% natural cheese composed of 30% water and as much as 70% nutrients, it is extremely rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. It is naturally lactose free.
  • Aged 18 months goes well with raw vegetables such as celery and sweet tomatoes or with non-spicy fruit mustard, for example kiwi, apricot or melon. Aged 24 months goes well with most pasta dishes, soups and velvety soups. From 22 to 30 months is excellent on fish carpaccio or roast beef, with arugula and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the 60-month-old one is perfect with prosciutto.
  • 14 liters of milk are needed to produce 1 kg of Parmigiano Reggiano, once finished, a wheel will weigh only 38–40 kilograms.


Emilia-Romagna is famous for its Food Valley, named so because of the culinary specialties that have led to Italy’s worldwide fame, Parmesan cheese is among them. 

If you are therefore curious about learning something new about Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and visiting a dairy farm, consult our food tours from Bologna or Modena, check our Parmesan cheese day tours or contact us for your tailor-made Italian tour!

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