A Hunger For Culture: Italy’s Food Museums

Love letters to the dishes and ingredients that make up the Italian culinary backbone.

Museo del pomodoro car, Food museums in Italy
F.lli Mutti's old advertising car at the Museo del Pomodoro in Parma. Food museums of the province of Parma, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s a real no-brainer that a country like Italy would be home to museums dedicated solely to food — in Parma alone there are six! Combining a respect for cultural tradition and a deep love of food, these museums are love letters to the dishes and ingredients that make up the culinary backbone of the country. We highlight five worth visiting on a culinary pilgrimage.

Museo della Pasta, Parma

What would this list be without an ode to pasta. Located within the Court of Giarola in the town of Collecchio, The Pasta Museum is split into eight sections that detail the origins of wheat, milling, typical pasta-making tools found in homes, industrialization of the 1800s, and the advertising of pasta over the years. And to demonstrate their sense of humor, the museum is very smartly located right next to the Museo del Pomodoro.

Museo della Pasta, Str. Giarola, 11, 43044 Collecchio, Parma

Museo del Pomodoro, Parma

Dedicated to one of the fundamental building blocks of Italian cuisine, The Tomato Museum is basically a complimentary exhibition to the previously mentioned Pasta Museum and follows the same layout that explores the origin of the fruit, cultivation in Italy, industrialization and factory production, and the charming advertising of Italian tomato products over the years. The best way to cap off a visit to these two museums would be in the museum restaurant!

Museo del Pomodoro, Str. Giarola, 11, 43044 Collecchio, Parma

Museo del Vino, Florence

Oenophiles will certainly find themselves drawn to the vineyards of Tuscany, so a visit to the Wine Museum in Florence should not be missed. Run by the owners of Antica Macelleria Falorni and Enoteca Falorni in Chianti, the museum is housed in a former century-old wine cellar, and was the Chianti Wine Producer Union in 1906. Naturally, it’s focused on Chianti wines and the processes of crushing, fermenting, and bottling; and was conceived as part of the ‘Falorni Experience’, part of a self-guided tour where you can taste the finest foods and wines of the Chianti area.

Museo del Vino, Via de’ Martelli, 4/14, 50100 Florence

Museo del Cioccolato, Norma

Fun for the whole family, the Chocolate Museum in Norma, Latina, shows how cacao is grown, harvested, and processed in Italy, and also features charming displays of antique factory machinery and measuring scales to transport you back to a not-so-distant past. A connected activity worth checking out is La Ciocco Scuola (The Choco School), suitable for groups of at least 10 people, and at an additional cost.

Museo del Cioccolato, Via Capo dell’Acqua, 20, 04010 Norma

Museo dell’Olivo, Imperia

The olive must be the pride of Italy, so it’s no surprise there are four museums on it across the country. We’re highlighting Museo dell’Olivo by Fratelli Carli in Imperia, Liguria, an elaborately curated museum to celebrate the significant tree — 18 rooms are dedicated to the ancient agriculture, the spread through the Mediterranean, beauty treatments, the significance of the olive tree to Liguria, and most fascinatingly are the beautiful antique pieces from the Carli family collection. The museum is also has provisions for the visually impaired.

Museo dell’Olivo, Via Garessio, 13, 18100 Imperia