The last time I was in Italy was in September 2007. 4 years have gone by along with my realization and revelation that the most joyful and fulfilling trips I’ve had surrounded and involved food. It was in Italy that I found the glee and joy of discovering an entire country solely based on the food that it provided.
After some online research, we discovered that we would there in time for the Festival del Prosciutto di Parma. Since I had already scheduled a tour of the Parmagiano Reggiano Cheese factory and a Balsamic Vinegar tour we thought that the Parma Ham tour would be the perfect complement.
The festival was in its 10th year when we attended last. When we got there, we weren’t really sure where to park but some very helpful [and adorable!] Italian boys lead us to an area that said, “no public parking” and told us we’d be safe there. There’s no logical reason why we should have trusted them, but they had this total Laissez-Faire attitude that convinced us that we would, in fact, be all right. Thankfully, our car was still there [ticket free] when we got back to it.
As we walked through the festival, it seemed a bit disorganized but I just blamed the lack of my own comprehension of Italian. Sometimes, you just have to muddle your way through – sign language, one word of Italian paired with 50 words of English and somehow you get along! People took very kindly to us, the dumb American Tourists. We managed to figure out the schedule and get on a bus to the factory to participate in the tour.
I know I should’ve known better but my arrogance just lead me to believe that the tour would be conducted in English – I mean, surely we couldn’t be the ONLY people who were English speakers. It turned out that we were the only English speakers on the tour. Once our guide/son of the factory owner figured out that we didn’t understand above a basic level, he ran up to get his girlfriend who repeated the entire tour for us in English, answering any basic question that we had about the curing process. [and answering our very important questions of how they met, how long they were dating for…you know the whole drill]. By the official end of our tour, we had gorged ourselves on the Parma Ham samples and a wealth of knowledge about the production process.
14th Annual Festival del Prosciutto di Parma, September 9 – 18, 2011Check out the program for the Festival del Prosciutto di Parma You may want to start at the museum Then work your way to the Open door Factory Tour For all you planners out there, consult the bus schedules to the Factor Tour In order to get a better understanding of Emilia Romagna region’s symbiotic existence, I suggest you also schedule a Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Factory Tour. They have an in-depth explanation on how the cheese depends on the quality of milk from the cows, the cows depends on the quality of the grass, and the pigs depend on the quality of the whey from the cheese [which is why, I’m told, Parma ham is the best in the world].