"... ed eravi una montagna di Parmigiano grattugiato, sopra la quale stavan genti che niun altra cosa facevan, che fare maccheroni, et ravioli, et cuocergli in brodo di cappone ..."
(Boccaccio, Decameron, 1348)
Parmigiano Reggiano was born, according to legend, in Middle Ages in Barco di Bibbiano, in Reggio Emilia district, but in the bishopric of Parma (and from that cames the name).
Historical evidence (for esample in the "Decamerone" of Boccaccio) demonstrate that already in 1200-1300 the Parmigiano-Reggiano had reached the modern status, and we can suppose that the origins date back several centuries before. It is not excluded that the recipe is similar to that of a "lodigiano" hard cheese, we sometimes find it mentioned in passing in the Roman sources.
Historically the cradle of Parmigiano was in the XII century, alongside the great monasteries and mighty castles in which appeared the "caselli"; small buildings with a square or polygonal plant, where it was processed milk.
The main monasteries present between Parma and Reggio were four: two Benedictine (San Giovanni in Parma and San Prospero in Reggio) e two Cistercian (San Martino in Valserena and Fontevivo, both in the Parma district).
To have lawns with good production to be allocated to breeding large size livestock, to take advantage of the driving force and the production of fertilizer, It had to have land with plenty of water and it is no coincidence that the major grasslands were formed where there was plenty of spring water: in the north of the city Parma and that of Fontanellato-Fontevivo; while in Reggio the most water-rich territory was between Montecchio and Campegine (the latter area was then subject to Parma).
In Parma then, thanks to the salt of Salsomaggiore, was present, unlike other cities, the salt needed for the cheese making.