Known to have originated in the Americas, the tomato has been grown in Parma province since the late 19th century. The local area has not restricted itself to cultivation; actually, it has also focused on processing both tomato-based products and technology for the canning industry, now exported all over the world. Tomatoes are therefore fully entitled to their position in a museum itinerary that emphasizes local produce from the Parma area.
The museum is based at the Corte di Giarola in the municipality of Collecchio, in an agri-food processing center dating back to the Middle Ages. Home to a tomato canning factory for the first six decades of the 20th century, it now also plays host to the Taro Regional River Park.

The displays are divided into seven themed sections.

  1. History

The first relates to history, the arrival of the tomato in 16th-century Europe, and its spread across culinary culture. Illustrations are provided of current varieties, their nutritional properties, and the areas where the crop is produced.

  1. Tomatoes in Parma

The itinerary continues with a second section that looks into the development of the processing industry as part of Parma’s economic fabric: from dried and canned tomatoes to concentrates and purées; from ready-made sauces to tomato juice for drinking.

  1. Technology 

Section 3 depicts the development of production technologies, from early industry to factories, with a reconstruction of a canned tomato production line consisting of 14 vintage machines.

  1. Packaging 

No less fascinating is Room 4, dealing with the finished product and packaging. On display are large numbers of original vintage tins and tubes, and a great range of marketing and promotional materials from the over 70 brands that operated in the Parma area in the early 20th century.

  1. The Mechanical Industry

The fifth section focuses on the development of the mechanical industry.

  1. How a Factory Works

The sixth tells the story of the pioneering entrepreneurs and how a factory works, with a space dedicated to the Stazione sperimentale per l’industria delle conserve alimentari agency founded in 1922, and to the Fiera delle conserve trade fair, a major showcase for Parma industry and the predecessor of its current incarnation, Cibus.

  1. The World of Tomatoes 

Rounding off the museum itinerary is the “World of Tomatoes” culture, with advertisements, quotations, paintings, sculptures and tomato-based recipes, followed by a look at cuisine and the close bonds with pasta and pizza.

The Tomato Museum forms part of the circuit of Parma Province Food Museums, focusing on typical local produce. It consists of the Parmesan Cheese Museum in Soragna; the Pasta Museum, also in Collecchio; the Wine Museum in Sala Baganza; the Salami Museum in Felino; the Parma Ham Museum in Langhirano; and the Culatello Museum in Polesine.