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The Tomato Museum at the Court of Giarola

Life, death and miracles of the tomato, a surprising source of pride for the province of Parma.

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Where is


Str. Giarola, 11, 43044 Collecchio PR, Italia (109m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

In 2015 Parma was proclaimed a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy in Italy on the grounds of a review of typical products and historic industrial brands that have made its name known around the world. However, not everyone knows that since the 19th century Parma has also held a less conspicuous, but equally important record for Italian cuisine, in tomato production and processing. Hence the reason for the existence since 2010 of this unique Tomato Museum, set up in the stables of the ancient Corte di Giarola, a rural Benedictine complex transformed in the late 19th century into a canning factory and dairy.

Why it is special

The museum reveals, so to speak, all that lies inside a can of tomatoes. The first section recounts the epic of the tomato at the time of its landing in Europe from America. Next, the story of the tomato industry in the Parma area is told, following the product through the various stages of processing, from the field to the can. In parallel, a collection of curious memorabilia is reviewed, from household masers to large machinery, all the way inside the walls of the home, from can openers to tubes of concentrate, without forgetting the varied world of advertising: slogans, labels, advertising gadgets...

Not to be missed

The Corte di Giarola, as the headquarters of the Taro River Regional Park, brings together within its perimeter various promotional activities of the area. These include the gastronomic offerings of the typical restaurant set up in a wing of the complex. Among the events not to be missed is the so-called 'snack in the court ' - fried cake, cured meats of the day, wines from the Parma Hills - which is particularly welcome after a walk along the river. Just mentioning the special Museum Menu, inspired by the great typical products of Parma and designed as a gourmet appendix to the visit.

A bit of history

It is well known that the tomato belongs to the group of post-Columbian products, that is, they arrived in the Old Continent after the discovery of America. Less well known is the fact that the tomato's establishment was slowed by the distrust aroused by the unusual fruit, long considered more a botanical curiosity, and even an aphrodisiac, than a real food resource. It would take more than two centuries for the tomato to convince Europeans, and Italians in particular, who have since, however, made it not only one of the pillars of their cuisine, but also a prime agroindustrial resource.


A long wall of the museum is reserved for a collection of more than one hundred large jars of tomato preserves, witnesses to the production of Emilia in the early 20th century. The interesting aspect concerns the images chosen by the companies to decorate their surfaces, some of which, like Mutti's two lions, have remained in the collective memory. It is a review that ranges from heraldry to mythology; from historical figures to monuments; even means of transportation, such as an airship, and events, such as the famous Excelsior Ball, taken to symbolize the progress that tomato paste also represented.

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Recommended by
Francesco Soletti

A fun museum full of curiosities--and then the pleasure of a walk to the banks of the Taro River.

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Musei del Cibo


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