Typical local products
Of Albinea

The territory of the municipality of Albinea is located almost in the centre of the foothills of the province of Reggio Emilia, in an area particularly suitable for farming activities thanks to the presence of specific environmental conditions that have no equal in the rest of the province. First and foremost, the foothill area is characterized by particular climatic conditions, with average annual temperatures higher than those of the plains and the mountains, which explains the presence of plant species typical of the Mediterranean, such as the olive tree and holly, which are not usually present in the Apennines. Secondly, in the foothills of Albinea there are specific types of terrain that originated in the great alluvial accumulations of the so-called "fan deltas", deposited over tens of thousands of years as a result of the climatic ups and downs of the Ice Age.

These soils are characterized by complex compositions with significant percentages of sandy fractions, Aeolian limes, and silt clay suspensions that give rise to a special soil chemistry extremely favourable to the development and selection of certain varieties of vine that require loose or relatively compact soils, with a good sandy component and well drained. These alluvial deposits of glacial origin have also created a particular morphology, characterized by large plateaus that gently slope down into the plain and intersect one another along the foothill margin.

The fan deltas, in turn, are crossed by a series of small streams which have cut deeply into the alluvial deposits to create a series of valleys enclosed by steep slopes. The resulting scenario is an unusual landscape characterized by large, highly diversified areas that help create even more favourable circumstances for the cultivation of vines, and the production of other quality agricultural products.

Finally, the first layers of the alluvial fan deltas of glacial origin were, in turn, subjected along their southern edge to a pushing action exerted by the masses behind the Apennines, which are drawn endlessly east-west. In certain cases, this phenomenon determined a significant uplift of the land, carrying it to significantly higher levels than the plain below, thereby creating additional conditions for environmental diversification – which might be defined as "geoclimatic" – and these too are favourable to agricultural practices, and viticulture in particular.

The combination of all these circumstances is the basis of the great viticulture tradition of Albinea, whose territory, characterized by a great diversity of environments and terrains along with a suitable climate, is well suited to the cultivation of fine vines. These favourable conditions extend equally to fodder crops, which also benefit from the unique characteristics of the land around Albinea, offering a raw material of choice for the production of quality cheeses, and in particular the renowned Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which is extremely tasty and flavourful around Albinea. Historically, milk production is associated with the breeding of pigs and the production of sausages, which here find particularly suitable conditions for their production.

Around Albinea, a traditional role is played by rural construction techniques that historically consist of buildings made of stone and brick aligned along the solar thermal axis. These building methods create particular "microclimatic" conditions inside which are ideal for the processing and storage of meats and, under the roof, the processing of vinegar, including the balsamic variety. These are buildings that "breathe" and are therefore able to adapt to the changing seasons to aid the maturation of the products. This agricultural tradition has existed since antiquity, as can be seen from the numerous agricultural settlements from Roman times scattered across the countryside, many of which retain the massive stones of wine and oil presses, together with large jars used to store agricultural products.

It is no exaggeration then to say that the territory of Albinea is an area which has a centuries-long tradition of producing some of Emilia’s best-known typical products. Many of these have become "protected" in recent years, in particular, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia and the wines of Colli di Scandiano and Canossa, which have been granted PDO status. The authenticity of all these products, which boast illustrious secular traditions, is strictly protected by three respective consortia.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia is a high quality product resulting from the fermentation of cooked grape must which is then aged, and the PDO mark guarantees that these processes have been carried out exclusively in the province of Reggio Emilia. Production is regulated by rigid and restrictive disciplinary measures and its uniqueness is the result of the sugar and acetic fermentation of cooked grape must which then undergoes a long period of ageing and refinement in a "battery" of small barrels. The transformation of the must can only occur in the particular environmental and climatic conditions typical of the attics of old houses, and only in a relatively small territory characterized by severe winters and hot windy summers. For these reasons it cannot be obtained with industrial processes or on a large scale, and as a result production quantities are limited and the price is rather high.
Inside the Villa Tarabini, at Albinea, it is possible to visit an exhibition of the complete production process, with a series of typical "batteries", consisting of a series of processing barrels.
As for the other local quality product of Albinea, Parmigiano Reggiano, the particular nature of the local soil yields superlative fodder, essential for the production of high quality cheese. The origins of this famous cheese are unknown; the most advanced historical analysis has linked its origins to the so-called "byres" that the medieval Benedictine monasteries of Reggio and Parma had near Reggio and Parma. Long mentioned in historical and literary documents (with a well-known description in Boccaccio’s Decameron) this is a product that now rightly plays a major role in the Italian and European dairy landscape. Its name is protected (Law of 10 April 1954, no. 125 and Presidential Decree 30 October 1955, no. 1269), its origin is guaranteed (Presidential Decree of 5 August, 1955 no. 667) and its trade overseen (Law of 10 April, 1954 no. 125 and Ministerial Decree of 17 June 1957) by the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The unique characteristics of the foothills near Albinea have also favoured high-quality, diversified wine production, with a long tradition in the production of "Lambrusco" − in particular, one of the oldest varieties: Lambrusco Montericco, which goes well with the renowned rich local cuisine, that may still be found in local taverns and restaurants, such as the famous Cappelletti in Brodo, chard or pumpkin Tortelli, Erbazzone, or simply with typical charcuterie products.

To taste and buy these fine products, a "Wine and Flavour Road" has been created, which runs through the municipality, indicated by special signs along the main roads, and allows interested parties to reach farms, dairies and vineyards where they can buy the products. Many makers are also delighted to welcome visitors interested in learning about production. Meanwhile, in Albinea itself, certain shops stock Cappelletti, Erbazzone, cold meats, baked goods and other local specialities.