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Hamming It Up in Parma

■ 10 September 2010 by James Martin

Today starts the thirteenth annual Parma Ham Festival, “Festival del Prosciutto di Parma. It runs through the 19th, so I hope to catch the end.

What you might not know is that there is a string of museums dedicated to food in the province of Parma called Musei del Cibo, Food Museums.

What’s interesting is that there’s a new one. “What might it be dedicated to?” I hear you ask. The tomato! It’s hard to think of what they’d put in a tomato museum, which is why I want to go.

It turns out, from reading the lit, that Parma’s place in the tomato world was in its developing industry. It was more about preserving the tomatoes, just as Prosciutto Crudo is about preserving ham.

But the other reason I want to go is that I live in little Piano di Collecchia and the museum of the Tomato is in Collecchio. I like to think of it as the masculine version of our town. I’m probably wrong.

The web site says the museum isn’t quite ready to open yet. But I have two months and I’ll bug them via email.

In any case, Collecchio has an interesting history, from early Neolithic pile-dwellings to to a city growing into a stop along the Strada Romea or Via Francigena. There seems to be lots to see there, and I don’t suppose many have heard of it.

So I’m hooked—and my curiosity further stoked by the final paragraph in the description of a place just outside of Collecchio:

In Ozzano at the Bella Foglia farm can be found the “Bosco delle Cose”, the extraordinary Museum of Agricultural Life which houses the amazing collection gathered over an entire life by Ettore Guatelli (1921-2000) which is an evocative picture of a culture and agricultural way of life which has disappeared. Today the collection is owned by a public foundation. ~ Collecchio and its environs

Who could possibly get bored with a week’s vacation in Italy?

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Hamming It Up in Parma originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Sep 10, 2010, © James Martin.

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