Spilamberto Museo del Balsamico Traditionale

When my Italian neighbors took out a wooden box containing a slender vial of Balsamic vinegar (Balsamico Tradizionale) after an Modenese dinner and exhorted me to take a giant spoon of the precious liquid, my life changed at that moment. No longer would I be able to stomach the sugared and still astringent industrial version of “balsamic vinegar.” The years it took (at least 12) to make the viscous liquid were well worth the effort.

Despite the fact that every supermarket in the world seems to have its own cheap, unaged version of “aceto balsamico di Modena,” traditional Balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico tradizionale is a whole different condiment. That’s why every foodie on the planet will want to:

1) Taste real balsamic Vinegar (look for aceto balsamico tradizionale DOP* in distinctive 100ml numbered bottles)
2) Take a pilgrimage to the Balsamic Vinegar Museum in Spilamberto, Italy.

  • DOP, Denominazione di Origine Protetta designates food products whose origins are identifiable in the taste, texture or “perfume” of the product and produced in a specific region with all ingredients coming from that region, in this case the Reggio Emilia and Modena provinces.
museum of traditional balsamic vinegar
Museo Basamico Traditionale

Where is Spilamberto and the Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale?

Spilamberto, a town of approximately 11,500 people, is located in the Modena Province of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, 17 km southwast of Modena. State Road SP623, called the “Via Modenese”, passes through Spilamberto. To reach Spilamberto by public transportation: from the Modena train station take city bus no. 7 to the Bus Station and then take the bus to Spilamberto.

The Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale is located on via Roncati, 28, in Spilamberto. It is a small museum where you can learn of the process of making Balsamic vinegar through a movie, exhibits and a guided tour. Balsamic is being made in a battery of barrels in the museum, so you can smell the wonderful perfume the process gives off.

balsamic vinegar barrels in the museum
Spilamberto: Balsamic Vinegar Barrels

Here’s a bit of what the museum “feels like” as you explore, from the website:

You are then immersed in the balsamic fragrances as you walk through the various rooms of the Museum. Among these, the evocative room reproducing the inside of a cask is the crowning element of the history, production and the very mystery of Balsamic Vinegar: in five separate sections, this room brings together the tools and key moments of the process that have led us to appreciate the ‘black nectar’ for centuries. From the vineyards to the grape harvest, from the pressing to the cooking of the must, ancient stories and techniques follow on from one another, right up to the construction of the casks and, subsequently, the creation of the vinegar attic, where olfactory and gustatory sensations converge, still today projecting onto the visitor the value of a tradition and the charm of a legend. Tools for treating the vines, grape crushers and copper cauldrons are presented, while a cooper’s workshop is also reproduced, in which traditional woods (such as oak, chestnut, mulberry and juniper), their natural ageing (source of aromas and fragrances for the vinegar) and strictly artisanal processing take on great importance. Finally, we come to the historic five-barrel set said to have belonged to the Fabriani family back in the 19th century, where we can perceive just how, through the possession of a family barrel set, a strong sense of belonging can be determined, spawning the identity of countless generations. They are now joined by a modern barrel set consisting of ten aging casks, thereby projecting the past into the future through the reality of the present.

Find out more about Guided Tours and Opening Hours.

Why is Balsamico Tradizionale so Expensive?

Traditional balsamic vinegar is produced from the juice of trebbiano grapes boiled down to reach a minimum sugar concentration of 30% (brix) or more in the must, which is then fermented and aged in wooden casts, with a procession of casks made of different woods, becoming smaller as the juice evaporates, becoming sweet, viscous and very concentrated. It takes a minimum of 12 years to be called “tradizionale”.

Balsamico Tradizionale Labels

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar comes in slender bottles with three colors of labels that pertain to aging of the vinegars: orange for at least 12 years, silver for 18, and gold for at least 25 years.

Other attractions in Spilamberto

Besides the Museum of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, you’ll find the Villa Fabriani, an 18th century villa which houses Spilamberto sculptor G. Obici’s “The Narcissus at the Fountain” and the Castle of Spilamberto, founded in 1210. Spilamberto is found along “La Strada dei Castelli” (Road of Castles). See them in this article.

Spilamberto is accessed through the Medieval entrance tower, the lower floors of which house the small archaeological museum.

The Nature Route is a walking/biking path along the Panaro river with poplars and willows.

Other Culinary favorites of Spilamberto are Nocino, a liquor made from green walnuts harvested on the night of St. John, and Spilamberto Amaretti, a variation of the ubiquitous Italian cookie.

Nearby is the town of Vignola, the castle of which is in a good state of repair and was known as the “sentry of the Panaro river.”

The Festival of St. John (Fiera di San Giovanni) is held in Spilamberto on in late June, revolving around agricultural products, crafts and local industries. There is a street market on via Obici at that time. The Palio di San Giovanni is held at the festival, where the 12 best Traditional Balsamic Vinegars are chosen out of more than 1000. For more see: Italy’s twelve best traditional balsamic vinegars

Restaurants near the Museum in Spilamberto

We had a very nice meal at La Tana dei Tassi on Via San Giovanni, 25 in Spilamberto. Two courses of lunch, including steak with porcini mushroom sauce for two with wine and coffee, came to just over 50 Euros. Cheaper is Friends on Via Tacchini 7/9, where you can get sandwiches or pasta (or food to take out).

Spilamberto: Where to Stay

Spilamberto has a few hotels, thanks to the fame of Balsamic vinegar these days.

Spilamberto Lodging

Books Mentioning Spilamberto

The Vinegar of Spilamberto: And Other Italian Adventures with Food, Places, and People, by Doris Muscatine is about food and the traditional preparation techniques of Italian cooking.

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Spilamberto Museo del Balsamico Traditionale originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Jun 23, 2024 © .

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