Newly launched Balsamic Vinegar Tourist Map. Birthplace of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena

May 11 2022, 14:09 | by Tommaso Costa
Balsamic Vinegar Tourist Map is here, a tool created by the Consortium of Ancient Vinegar Producers to discover the places of production of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP

Those who know it well call it "black gold" and the name is due to the colour, but also to its value, and above all to the care, time and patience that needed before it can finally be bottled and tasted.

The balsamic vinegar of Modena

It takes at least 25 years to have in your hands a bottle of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Dop Extra Vecchio (while "only" 12 years for the "young" version). This ancient seasoning comes from cooked grape must of Lambrusco grapes (but also Trebbiano and other grapes of vineyards included in the DOC list in the province of Modena) and rests in wooden barrels in the attics of old Modena homes and transformed into vinegar aging rooms.

The places of balsamic tourism

Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena has a very ancient history that today can be traced by entering 34 villas scattered throughout the province, meeting the families who still produce it and tasting it in all its different shades. To do so, just have with you the Balsamic Vinegar Tourist Map, a detailed map presented by the Consorzio Produttori Antiche Acetaie that, through a guided tour, allows you to discover the black gold and the territory that jealously guards it.

"The Balsamic Vinegar Tourist Map virtuously links and organises places of great gastronomic and cultural value" confirmed with satisfaction Mario Gambigliani Zoccoli who is the President of the Consortium of Ancient Balsamic Vinegar Producers. He is also one of the 34 producers who decided to open the doors of their home and accompany tourists in a fascinating journey back in time. "In this way," he explains, "we are able to respond to the growing tourist demand, both foreign and domestic, to experience new experiences that can convey the essence of a territory that has so much. We are sure that the privilege of visiting a vinegar producer accompanied by the hosts can be an original occasion."

The balsamic vinegar tourist map

In double version, both printed and digital, downloadable from the website this map is actually a pocket handbook full of useful information in two languages, Italian and English, helps tourists in choosing the most suitable tasting itinerary. Motor lovers, for example, can choose one of the acetaie closer to Maranello where you can visit the Ferrari Museum. Those who want to combine the discovery of Modena’s black gold with art can choose a vinegar producer not far from the historic centre of Modena. "Thanks to vinegar we can thus give value to the historic villas of the territory that guard it" confirmed Gambigliani Zoccoli. Meeting the families it becomes clear that traditional balsamic vinegar is the only one in which there is no vinegar but rather grape must cooked up to ten hours; or that the official bottle of a tenth of a litre was created by the designer Giorgetto Giugiaro (in the Reggio Emilia area the bottle takes the shape of an upside down tulip); and that every year there's a max production of 110,000 bottles.

Balsamic vinegar, amid tourism, gastronomy and curiosity

Of course, gastronomy also plays an important role in the visit. And so in addition to being able to taste the different balsamic seasonings in a sensory journey that starts from the visit to the attic, many vinegar producers listed on the map feed the delicious tourist offering combinations that enhance the balsamic protagonist. "Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar blend perfectly from an tasting point of view," illustrated Gambigliani, "but those who come visit us can taste it also in many other preparations such as risotto, vegetable omelettes from the garden and even a delicious ricotta cake that is an old family recipe, all drinking excellent lambrusco." Each place listed includes indication of the possibility of having lunch with the family and in some cases even staying a few days in the villa or in the farmhouse, perhaps sleeping among the barrels. But if you want to widen the circle of taste, on the map are also indicated four cheese makers that produce Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P. and three ham factories where Prosciutto di Modena D.O.P. is made, all can be visited and located close to one other.

The very detailed map indicates all the available itineraries by car or using a bicycle, including electric ones. Meeting the producers, then, we also discover curious anecdotes, like the time that the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, went to visit the vinegar producer San Donnino. Walking through the rooms you can also admire the corner of the Art Nouveau villa where Bernardo Bertolucci shot a famous scene of the film Novecento with stars Dominique Sanda and Robert De Niro. In another residence there is a large mural of contemporary art by the artist Luca Zamac.

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 by Tommaso Costa

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