Vacationers keen on experiencing real Italy would prefer touring Parma, the famous city of Italy in the Emilia Romagna region. Parma is miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life; enjoy good climate, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, best wine, rich culture, architectural grandeur and scenic landscape.
Find information about the most interesting places to visit in Parma and the most exciting foods to indulge in at Parma. Check why first time tourists find Parma incredibly attractive and wait to tour Parma at least once more.
About Parma Italy
Parma is in the Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains. Parma was founded by the Etruscans, a cultural group that existed in Etrucia region of Italy from the eleventh through the first century BC (Iron Age into Roman times). It was later transformed into a Roman colony in 183 BC. Romans, the Viscontis, the Sforzas, the French, Popes and the Burbons had control over Parma. All its rulers have left their mark on the city. Parma has many well-preserved ancient remains of its past.
To a great extent, the weather in Parma is influenced by its location. Parma is never subjected to extremely high temperatures and humidity during summer. At the same time, Parma’s weather forecast perennially includes possible showers any time through the year. Early summer, autumn and spring are the best times to stroll through the city.
Moving around in Parma
Tourists can travel around Parma in local busses and taxis. Bicycle touring through the tidy, romantic streets is popular with visitors. It’s an ideal way to enjoy beautiful landscape, take photographs and travel at your own pace. There are many cycle paths and river routes too.
Summer, spring, autumn or winter all the four seasons are packed with events ranging from trade fairs, cinemas, music concerts, opera, prize ceremonies, fashion shows, cultural shows, sports etc. The city's main exhibition centre is the Fiere di Parma. The Fair Centre lies at the heart of central northern Italy.
The whole province has a wealth of theatres and music venues such as Parma’s Regio Theatre (world’s most renowned stages for opera) built in the 19th century and the Verdi Theatre built in memory of composer Giuseppe Verdi. Verdi’s life and works are celebrated through the annual Verdi Festival in October which kickstarts the opera season. The festival attracts music lovers from all over the world. Verdi is renowned for operas such as Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Otello and Falstaff among others.
People in Parma enjoy playing or watching football. It's their favorite past time. AC Parma is one of the leading Italian and European football clubs in Parma.
Finest buildings and monuments in Parma
There are several heritage buildings, monuments and castles. Due care has been taken to protect and preserve the traditional aristocratic cultures, rich with precious works of art that is widely evident in every piece of work.
Monuments: Monuments bring history alive. Parma's monuments are huge in stature and rich in history. Stepping inside the monuments and understanding their significance can take you into the past.
Palazzo Vescovile: It houses the Museo Diocesano where pieces of 12th and 13th century sculptures are exhibited. The Roman ruins are stored in the basement. The building is renowned for the original medieval architecture and the beautiful porticos.
Duomo: Duomo di Parma, Cattedrale di Parma, duomo dell'Assunta, Parma Cathedral, Cathedral of Parma are other names for this 12th century Romanesque cathedral filled with Renaissance art. The most famous work of art in Parma Cathedral is the Assumption by Correggio in the central cupola. It was painted in 1534 and you can see the Virgin Mary ascending through swirling drapery.
Battistero: The Florence Baptistry or Battistero di San Giovanni is a religious building in Florence Tuscany, Italy, which has the status of a minor basilica. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128.
San Giovanni Evangelista: The church of San Giovanni Evangelista was built at the end of the 14th century and was renovated in the 17th century. It's built in the Romanesque-Gothic style. The key attraction of the monument is the large front entrance that opens into a small courtyard. Presently, the monument is used as a concert hall.
Church of Steccata: This church is an example of Renaissance architecture in Parma. Professionals from the field of architecture may easily notice that the church design is very similar to work of Leonardo da Vinci. There are many locals who visit the Church and worship in the peaceful interiors.
Palazzo della Pilotta: Pilotta is a name of a game which was played in the courtyard of the palace. It was built in the 16th century. The Galleria Nazionale, or the National Museum, one of Italy's most important museums, is located here. It contains works by Correggio, Parmigianino, Beato Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Van Dyck, Tiepolo, Canaletto and others. The Palazzo della Pilotta also houses the Palatina Library and the National Archaeological Museum. The Farnese theatre, the Institute of History andArt of the University of Parma is also located here.
The town hall: The Town Hall occupies two sides of Piazza Grande. The palace used to be the seat of power. Presently, the palace is the venue for exhibitions both modern and contemporary art, notable events such as workshops and meetings. The state rooms in the town hall are open to visitors.
Ospedale Vecchio: The Ospedale Vecchio is a historic building in Parma. The building is enormous in size and has witnessed advancements in medical practices through the centuries since 1201. It's indeed a fascinating place of history and culture. Its beautiful façade and luxurious courtyard, the marble columns and speaks volumes of the past architectural grandeur. Today, the building houses the library, the Archivio Storico comunale and the Archivio di Stato (State archives.)
Italian Museum of Perfumery: It is near the northern city of Modena. There are 3,500 flowers, 750 different varieties of roses on display at the Museo Giardino della Rosa Antica (Garden Museum of the Ancient Rose). The museum also conducts botany lessons and conferences for enthusiasts.
Parma, food capital of Italy
Italy is the culinary capital of Europe and Parma is food capital of Italy. It's in recognition of the two sublime items of cuisine – parmesan cheese and Prosciutto Ham. Parma attracts tourists not just for its sights, there are many who head to the city to taste Parma cuisine.
Parmesan Cheese has a strong, fruity and rich flavor. It's mainly used as a topping for spaghetti and pasta dishes. It's still prepared the same way it used to be eight centuries ago. The basic process of producing Parmesan cheese has not changed for hundreds of years. An authentic Parmesan cheese ought to be from Parma with a distinct taste and hard texture which is a result of lengthy and very specific production processes. There is hardly a traditional Italian recipe that is prepared without Parmesan Cheese. Tourists can visit the cheese making factories, see the cheese making process in Parma, taste cheese, have lunch and local wine and also purchase cheese.
Parma prosciutto is a product of the Italian city of Parma. This type of ham has been made in Italy since Roman times. There is a law that states Parma prosciutto cannot be produced anywhere but in the Parma province, in the Emilia Romagna region of the north-central Italy. Parma Prosciutto is rosy red in color and gives off a beautiful smell; this dry cured meat is a favorite among gourmet chefs and foodies alike. Tours are arranged to visit a factory and see how it's made and also taste the succulent hams. So, popular, there is an annual ham festival which is held in Parma. Participants will have the chance to taste samples from hundreds of producers. Restaurants in Parma serve only Parma prosciutto and tourists can source from any store in Parma.
True to its title, once every two years, Parma hosts Italy's most important food industry trade fair, CIBUS, and visitors throng the city for a week to participate and taste the special delicacies of the region. Parma is home to companies like Barilla, which exports spaghetti, pasta, biscuits and bread to countries across the globe, and Parmalat, specialists in milk and dairy products.
Parma, vibrant nature
Parma's beauty is not restricted to marvelous art, wonderful architecture, theatres, museums and palaces. Parma is also a place of stunning natural beauty with beautiful green hills, fertile countryside, seasonal flowers and the vineyards.
The Apennine Mountains is referred to as the 'Alps' in the province of Parma. It offers wonderful panoramas, pristine landscapes, oak, beech and chestnut woods, pure mountain springs, clean air and glacial lakes.
To enjoy and experience the breathtaking beauty, instead of restricting to a day's trip to the Apennine Mountains, tourists prefer to find accommodation in resorts or avail bread and breakfasts packages. There's action-packed adventure too in these parts such as horse riding, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and climbing
Shopping in Parma
Parma is a delightful place to shop. Buying souvenirs and other local specialty items are indeed a way to revive Parma vacation memories anytime. Getting around is made easy with pedestrians only zones. Via Mazzini, Piazza Garibaldi, Via Farini, Via Repbblica and the very central Via Cavour are some of the roads dedicated to shopping in Parma. Food, cooking equipments and antiques tops shopping list of tourists.
Parma food shopping list should include Parmesan cheese, the traditional balsamic vinegar (silver, golden and red lobster seals), Prosciutto di Parma, and wine lovers can buy excellent Malvasia, Red, and Sauvignon. Tourists also evince interest in buying great cook books with over a hundred recipes for pasta, veal and pork and sorbets and desserts.
For antique shopping, the best streets are Borgo Tommasini and Via Nazario Sauro. There are many small art shops that sell original antiques. On the third Sunday of every month (except January), an antique market is held is the castle town of Fontanellato. Clocks and objects d'art from the past five centuries of Italian, French and Spanish origin can be sourced.