The historic city of Parma welcomes its guests with a rich and delicious gastronomic tradition as well as its charming architecture and landscape.
Best known as the homeland of delicious prosciutto di Parma (ham) as well as one of the best places to enjoy the original Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese), Parma, in Emilia Romagna is also a city so rich in history that you will fall in love with instantaneously when admiring its majestic architecture and visiting its museums and churches. As the home of one of the oldest universities in the world, Parma also boasts a very rich musical history being the hometown of one of the greatest Italian composers, Giuseppe Verdi as well as legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini. And with the biggest labyrinth in the world opening in June at Fontanellato, Parma is definitely the place to go. Here are 20 good reasons why should go to Parma right now!
1) Admire Parma Cathedral’s wonderful frescoes
One of the first things you must visit once in Parma is its austere yet beautiful Romanesque cathedral. Why? Its dome is entirely decorated with a sixteenth century fresco representing the Assumption of the Virgin by Italian artist Antonio da Correggio. The Cathedral also houses an inestimable twelfth century sculpture depicting Thedeposition by Benedetto Antelami.
2) Visit the pink marbles Baptistery
Nearby the cathedral, absolutely unmissable is the wonderful Romanesque and Gothic Baptistery made of pink Verona marble and boasting wonderful frescoes dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth century. One of the most impressive things? Its beautiful painted domed ceiling.
3) Visit Palazzo della Pilotta
Built around the 1583, Palazzo della Pilotta is a complex of building which houses the Academy of Fine Arts, thePalatine Library (with a collection including ancient printed works, manuscripts, a musical section and some letters of Giuseppe Verdi and Giulio Ricordi), The National Gallery boasting breathtaking works of art byLeonardo da Vinci (La Scapigliata), Beato Angelico, Canaletto, Correggio and Tintoretto, the Archeological Museum and the seventeenth century Farnese Theatre.
4) Take a walk through Parco Ducale
Located just in the heart of the historical city center, you’ll find Parco Ducale (Ducal Park), a wonderful example of ‘French style’ garden housing Ducal Palace, enhanced by sculptures by Jean Baptiste Boudard and designed around the 1561 by Italian architect Giovanni Boscoli for want of Ottavio Frnese, Duke of Parma. Also don’t miss out on visiting San Paolo gardens…simply fabulous.
5) Discover the house where Giuseppe Verdi was born
Just outside Parma, if you head to the nearby town of Busseto you’ll find the house where Italian composerGiuseppe Verdi was born in 1813. Here you can take a journey into the childhood of one of the greatest opera composers to ever live.
6) Taste Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma
What’s better way to enjoy the city of Parma than tasting its gastronomic specialties? Absolutely nothing. That’s why, once here please don’t miss out on trying Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) but also Prosciutto di Parma (ham) and also the traditional Anolini in brodo (anolini pasta soup).
7) Enjoy opera at Teatro Regio
Teatro Regio is an opera house dating back to the 1821 which construction began during the reign of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma. It’s here that Giuseppe Verdi directed his Nabucco in 1843.
8) Visit Glauco Lombardi Museum
Once in Parma also don’t miss out on visiting Glauco Lombardi Museum boasting a prestigious and unique collection of art and historical items belonging to Maria Luigia of Habsburg and her husband Napoleon Bonaparte.
9) Be wowed by visiting majestic Reggia di Colorno
In the province of Parma you also must visit the wonderful Reggia di Colorno, wanted by Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma during the eighteenth century. It was Duke Philip the one who later commissioned its restoration to emulate the internal decorations of the Palace of Versailles and Marie Louise, Napoleon’s wife, who created a wonderful English-style garden.
10) Breath a timeless atmosphere at Cittadella di Parma
The Cittadella is a fortress built during the sixteenth century by order of Duke Alessandro Farnese. Absolutely striking is its monumental façade made with Carrara’s marble.
11) Visit the Certosa di Parma
Once a Carthusian Monastery, the Certosa (located just outside Parma) was built from 1285 to 1304, by the archbishop of Spoleto, Rolando Taverna. Here you can admire breathtaking works by Francesco Pescaroli, Alesssandro Baratta, Gianbattista Natali and Ilario Spolverini.
12) Enjoy culatello at Antica Corte Pallavicina
To take a break from your city tour, head to Antica Corte Pallavicina by Massimo Spigaroli the right place to enjoy one of the most delicious culatello From the 2007 Spigaroli also gives his expert advice as gourmet for the farm of Prince of Wales, Charles, in Wales.
13) Take part at November Porc
If you are traveling to Parma in November please take note of not missing the event of the year: popularNovember Porc, entirely dedicated to pork dishes, where you can eat culatello and enjoy music and dedicated events in town.
14) Enjoy Parma nightlife in Via d’Azeglio
Looking for a place to enjoy a well-deserved cocktail (or more than just one) after a day spent visiting the city? If so, go to Via D’Azeglio one of the liveliest areas in town to grab an Aperitivo or a glass of beer in one of its many pubs.
15) Eat like a local
Here are some unmissable places to enjoy the best of Parma’s gastronomic offer from breakfast to dinner: head to Pasticceria Pagani to try some of the best brioches around, while for lunch break please go to Pepèn the best place to enjoy traditional street food (try their carciofa, savory pie filled with artichokes, ricotta, eggs and parmesan cheese). Want to enjoy a traditional dinner? If so, head to Leon d’Oro restaurant and order their amazing bollito or the typical tortelli alle erbe.
16) Visit the house of Arturo Toscanini
As the homeland of Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, Parma also hosts the house (now a museum) where the famous musician was born, a must do stopover during your stay on Parma.
Also known as the Food Valley for its delicious gastronomic tradition, the area which surrounds Parma and all the Emilia Romagna has lots of culinary spots you can visit to try culatello as well as some other typical products. There are many of travel operators that organize tours such as Food Valley Travel.
18) Admiring Correggio’s frescoes at Convent of St Paul
Also don’t miss out on visiting the Convent of St Paul best known for housing the Chamber of St Paul, frescoes painted by Antonio Correggio in 1519 on the domed ceiling of Abbess Giovanna Piacenza’s private dining room. The frescoes are considered one of the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance art. The monastery also contains a chapel of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria frescoed with scenes of her life by Araldi.
19) Make an original journey at the Guatelli museum
While in Parma you can also enjoy the visit of a very special museum where the objects belonging to everyday life are the main protagonists. Where? At Museo Guatelli you will enjoy a unique experience visiting a place where the ordinary becomes work of art.
20) Listen to a concert in the wonderful Paganini Concert Hall
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano the Concert Hall is dedicated to composer Niccolò Paganini, the musician whom Maria Luigia wanted at the head of the Ducal Orchestra in 1836. Listen to a concert here is something you’ll hardly forget.