Self-guided visits to cheese, ham, and balsamic producers around Parma?
My husband and I will be staying in Verona for 7 days during June. We chose Verona because of the Opera festival and also for its proximity to other regions of interest. We would like to tour and sample some of the world-renowned products produced in Emilia-Romagna. Parma seems like a central location for these products, but we could easily go to other areas.
We are budget conscious, and I cannot see spending 300 Euros for a 1/2 day tour. That's more than 1/2 the price of our accommodation for the week. We will have a car and have plenty of flexibility in our itinerary. I'm willing to do the leg-work of organizing visits myself wherever possible. (Then I can spend my Euros on the products!)
I'm seeking recommendations for producers who welcome individual food tourists. We'd like to see the production process and sample the products. I don't mind paying a reasonable tasting fee.
I did already read about the free cheese tours on another thread. (http://www.parmigianoreggiano.com/whe...)
I think that a visit to the bassa - the po plain region north of Parma - for culatello and a fine lunch is well worth the trip. the whole area, Busseto, Zibello etc is full of producers and good places to sample the products. Look for posts about Spigaroli (Il Cavallino Bianco), La Buca and Da Ivan for more info about tastings and eating in this area.
the aceto balsamico tradizionale is made around Reggio Emilia and Modena. There are a number of producers that will give you tours, especially in Modena and vicinity - do a search and you will find a few or look for the web pages for the producer consortiums -here is a link to a consorzio for modena producers
Here is an acetaia in the country, Pedroni, that also has an informal restaurant (I think you have to reserve to tour the acetaia) http://www.acetaiapedroni.it/en/osteria/ that at least one chowhound has visited recently
re: jen kalb
based in Verona, you might want to consider touring closer to home - Mantova is well worth a visit , and has its own interesting cuisine, using rice, fresh water fish and other local items, and you could also, in the Verona area, visit a rice mill as part of your touring
Id also note that you dont have to go all the way down to Parma to taste the Parmigiano Reggiano - the DOC zone stretches almost up to Mantova
re: jen kalb
also in the Verona province, about 30 mins away on Lago di Garda, in Cisano is an olive oil museum that we visited. While touristy indeed (it would not be like visiting a producer), we found it informative and interesting. Also a great showroom with products for purchasing, olive oil tastings and beautiful olive wood products. There are several olive oil producers in that area that you can do tastings at.
Nearby there is also a wine museum that we ran out of time to visit. http://www.museodelvino.it/it
I hope you plan to do some wine tasting. The area just north of Verona (Valpolicella region) is studded with wineries where you can taste Soave, Valpolicella, Ripasso, Recioto, and Amarone.