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Parmesan producer tours with emphasis on tasting?

We're in Lucca now (have been for the last month - trip report to follow) - we could spend a day in Parma on our way to Milan. It's my husband's favourite cheese so it would be great to do a tasting somewhere. We're not terribly interested in group/free tours of factories.....but would really like to sample some cheeses we might not otherwise get in North America. Any suggestions?

Also - a suggestion for a restaurant for lunch that we would feel comfortable parking our rental car with all our luggage? Maybe an agriturismo? I've looked here at trip reports and Trattoria del Tribunale gets good reviews - do they have a parking lot?

TIA

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  1. It is easier to get from Lucca to Milan via the coast to Genova, then to Alessandria and up to Milan. Much easier than going from Lucca to Florence and up the A1.

    For our money, the best cheese store in northern Italy is Il Giolito in Bra (in Piemonte), the original home of Slow Food. Nothing comes close in terms of quality of the cheese, selection and friendliness of the owners. Bra is 45 minutes from the autostrada and that is the hour and a half (both ways), you'll save by going up this way rather than the horrible A1.

    There is simply nothing like Il Giolito... it has all the parmigiano you want and lots of free tastes of everything :)

    http://www.giolitocheese.it/

    1 Reply
    1. re: allende

      I think they could take the A15 from La Spezia to Parma, and go on from there - but I dont have a place to recommend for a cheese tasting without a tour, We did a very interesting tour (no group) of a small factory in the Parma countryside - but the good parmigiano can be tasted in fine shops throughout the region.

      What Allende proposes sounds like a wonderful alternative -
      if you want, however to visit E-R, Parma is a lovely city (if culture is wanted) and there would I am sure be a gastronomia or cheese store there where a tasting of the different ages of parmigiano could be had. But I dont have a recommendation, particularly of a place with parking - Trattoria del Tribunale is in a pedestrianized area, and would not have it - better to stop at one of the good country restaurants in the region and request a cheese plate.

      If OP does enter Par - here is a link to the local chowhound equivalent where you might find recommendations.http://www.amioparere.com/39pg/locali...

      A quick stop in Bussetto home of Verdi could also be more manageable to sample the cured meats and cheeses of the region, http://www.saporidellabassa.com/degus... or at the less formal Il Cavallino Bianco restaurant of spigaroli, in Polesine Parmense, on the peaceful Po bank
      http://www.ristorantealcavallinobianc... for both the cured

    2. Hi Elizabeth, I assume you are back from Lucca by now?

      Any memorable meals while there? We'll be there in 3 months

      Thanks

      6 Replies
      1. re: Ziggy41

        Most definitely! I'll write a list later today and link to our blog with lots of pics. Where are you staying - in the walls? Will you have a car?

        We loved Lucca!

        1. re: ElizabethS

          Thanks Elizabeth. We are only staying for one day inside the walls, with a car before heading to Volterra and settling in Montepulciano for 4 nights

          1. re: Ziggy41

            Shall I add parking information or are you good with it?

            1. re: ElizabethS

              Oh I'm good thanks. The place I'm staying has a parking spot which I reserved. Not sure how ill fit there but it's reserved ;)

        2. re: Ziggy41

          Here's a short list of places we enjoyed without addresses/etc -- but we are in the process of updating our blog with photos and locations.(in no particular order)

          - All'Olivo .... up and down reviews on TA but our 2 experiences there were both excellent from a food and service standpoint
          - Gigi - cute small trattoria but probably not the place I'd choose for one day in Lucca
          - Buca di Sant'Antonio - we enjoyed it two years ago and again this year (remember we travel way off season so our experiences might be different as a result) .... they have a note on their menu with asterisks for certain items that says something like this "regional specialty - all you tourists might not like it" (or words to that effect) - we made a point of ordering those dishes
          -l'Imbuto - in the Museum of Modern Art - have mixed feelings about this restaurant - see the blog post when it comes up in the next week
          - a restaurant at 69 Via Santa Croce that we had wonderful baccala and fried zucchini flowers - have to find the name - lovely service

          We had memorable meals outside the walls (but a very short, easy drive) at these two restaurants (which are on the same road - the one to Barga - less than 5 minutes apart)

          - Butterfly
          - Antica Locanda di Sesto

          The former is a Michelin 1 star with multi course menus offering interesting and delicious variations on traditional dishes (with some untraditional touches)

          The latter is all about tradition - run by a lovely family, the food is delicious and the welcome extremely warm. It was our favourite .... 2 years ago when we first visited Lucca and this time when we were there for a month.

          Here's a link to this year's blog with some pix from Gigi and Antica Locanda but there is a lot more to come.

          http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/20...

          We ate at some other small places/pizza/etc but assuming for one night you're not interested in a small pizza place?

          1. re: ElizabethS

            Wow thanks so much Liz. Looking forward to the rest of the posts. No rush, got 3 months ;)

        3. I am not sure if you are back but I went on a private tour at a dairy near Parma that was fantastic. We definitely got to taste. I arranged it directly with the Consorzio.http://www.parmigiano-reggiano.it/dov... . This was entirely private. No tourists or facilities for tourists.

          Select Italy selectitaly.com will arrange a (pricey) half day private tour with tasting, lunch and will also include a visit to an azienda producing Prosciutto. It was a great day as well.

          Whenever I am driving along the A1, I get off at Reggio Nell'Emilia and stop at the Latteria Due Madonne. The cheese is wonderful. Via Abramo Lincoln 3.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jslisko

            Thanks jslisko - we are back but I will file your suggestion for next time. In retrospect it would have been difficult to do as we had a car full of luggage and had to get the rental car back to the Milan airport by 4pm so we did a drive thru of Parma Centro and carried on to Milan