A mix of Medieval and Renaissance, Habsburg and contemporary architecture, Parma’s beauty is revealed by the elegant streets of the old town and its porticos, its straw-colored facades and the frescoes by Correggio and Parmigianino. This is the legacy left behind by Marie Louise of Austria and the Farnese family: modern urban spaces and large green areas, interwoven with the musical tradition of Verdi and Toscanini.

On top of all this are Parma’s good manners and good food. Food is a serious matter in and around Parma – so much so that UNESCO awarded it the title of Creative City of Gastronomy in 2015. We are, after all, in the Food Valley of Italy which extends from the rugged peaks of the Apennines to the industrial plains of the Po, lined with rows of trees and waterways. This fertile and abundant landscape, along with age-old traditions and human resourcefulness, has been instrumental in creating world-renowned gastronomic delights, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello di Zibello, Coppa di Parma and Salame Felino.

Last but not least, Parma is also home to one of the leading companies in the food sector, Barilla, which tells the story and evolution of the company and its ties to the local area through a product that is a symbol of Made in Italy.

Barilla Historical Archive

Barilla was founded in 1877, a few years after the unification of Italy. Pietro Barilla senior, a descendant of a family of bakers documented as far back as 1576, opened a store in Parma’s Strada Vittorio Emanuele (today Strada della Repubblica), which specialized in the production of bread and pasta. Its output of 50 kg per day grew to 2,500 kg in 1905. In 1910, the first large production facility with a continuous production oven was built and passed down to Gualtiero and Riccardo Barilla in 1912. Its legacy was then passed down through the generations that followed. The conquest of the Italian market in the 1960s and the European market in the 1990s was simply the premise to Barilla’s positioning as a world leader for pasta and a European leader for bakery products.

The Archive, founded in 1987 to revive and promote the memory of the past, retraces the history and economic activity of the company and its brands, including Mulino Bianco, Voiello, Pavesi and Pandistelle. Villa Magnani, an Art Nouveau building later incorporated into the factory in Parma, was chosen to host the Archive from the start. The basements with wonderful terracotta vaulted ceilings, which had housed thousands of wheels of Parmigiano cheese over the decades, were the ideal location for the preservation of archival materials, as their temperature and humidity could be kept constant over time.

Today, in its new location on the outskirts of Parma, the Archive contains a collection of photographs, videos, sound recordings, documents and advertising material that not only showcases the company’s history from its foundation to the present day, but also provides a cross-section of the society, culture and customs of Italy.

Barilla also made significant contributions to the Pasta Museum in Collecchio. Located in the ancient medieval rural court of Giarola, on the right bank of the Taro river, through objects, machinery and testimonies from that era, the display tells the story of dry pasta from the raw material and its transformation to the artisan and industrial processing methods.

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