History

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a cheese of ancient origin and its characteristics and processing methods have remained unchanged over time. Still today, cheese masters continue the tradition of making their cheese with only milk and rennet, with strict respect to the centuries-old methods.

The birth of this fine cheese, a symbol of Italian cheese making excellence, dates back to about the 12th century, even though the Romans and Etruscans were already familiar with this cheese produced in the Reggio Emilia area.

The first evidence comes from Cistercian monasteries in Parma and Benedictine monasteries in Reggio-Emilia: thanks to the abundant streams of water and broad pastures, this hard cheese, obtained by processing the milk in large boilers, quickly spread throughout the area around Emilia. A milk with a particular and distinctive aroma that still today characterises the cheese, coming from typical forage from the pastures, composed of clover and lucerne. Already back then, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese had reached its perfect typicality, which has remained unchanged for nine centuries up to the present day, thoroughly expressing the tradition and precision of the monks.

“And there was a mountain of grated Parmigiano cheese, on which people were making nothing but maccheroni and raviolis, and cooking them in chicken broth...”
This dates back to 1351, when Giovanni Boccaccio wrote in Decamerone, a writing in which Parmigiano Reggiano was mentioned as a product of excellence, of universally renowned fame.

In the 16th century it was the subject of Italian pride and undisputed star of noble lunches, where it was especially enjoyed when combined with fresh fruit. It is said that, before dying, Molière (1600) had asked for one last chunk of this white gold.

Evidence of a success story also comes from the 1800’s, a prodigal century for quotes and honours for Parmigiano Reggiano. It seems that the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte loved to eat a dish of green beans and Parmigiano Reggiano, prepared by his personal chef which was discovered thanks to this second wife, the Duchess of Parma Maria Luigia.

The success of this divine product is endless, and today it is one of the most highly representative products of Italian gastronomy in the entire world.

Parmigiano Reggiano was awarded the Protected Designation of Origin status in 1955.