Set in the middle of Emilia Romagna, between Piacenza and Bologna, among the Apennines and the Pianura Padana, Parma it’s called “Città Della Musica” (city of music) or the Petit Paris (the little Paris).
Parma is one of the most elegant Italian cities, thanks to its atmosphere which recalls a northern European city, rich of culture, with its citizens use to move by bikes, whizzing on the downtown bridges, ancient buildings and the ladies always elegant strolling on the cobbled streets of old Town. Parma has a strong character, proud of its history and its beauty. The city, which was home also of the Renaissance painter Correggio and the 20th-century, is plateful of ornate churches and monasteries, an fine-arts museum, and a celebrated theater.
You can visit Parma very quickly but, if you want to enjoy its particular mood and discover what the city offers to the tourist, it’s really recommended to spend at least two days.
As mentioned before, one of the first names with which usually indicates Parma is the “city of music”; that’s because the musical vocation has always been one of the main characteristics in the history and tradition of Parma.
Since 1628, year of the inauguration of the “Grand Theatre”, the music, or rather the great music, has always been part of the streets and squares of Parma, helping to make it grow as the world. The seasons of Verdi and Toscanini allowed the extraordinary development of the Teatro Regio and the Teatro Farnese which establish Parma in Europe as the capital of classical music. An extraordinary artistic and cultural heritage, not surprisingly placed under the guardianship of Parma Foundation Capital of Music, whose main purpose is to support the international screen and the Parmesan musical institutions. The Foundation today operates mainly for the development and further expansion of the Foundation Symphony Orchestra Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, for many years been committed to promoting the use of music in teaching and research activities.
The main church is the Duomo, Santa Maria Assunta, set in piazza del Duomo, marked by guide books as one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Italy. The Cathedral, has been built in Romanesque style, with gabled facade and the dome frescoed by Correggio, and the Baptistery, designed by one of the most famous architects of the twelfth or thirteenth century, Benedetto Antelami. Just behind the cathedral you can reach the San Giovanni Evangelista, a Benedictine complex with the famous dome of Correggio. The dome of the Cathedral and the San Giovanni are not the only works by the artist. Third, but not least known, it is the series of frescoes in the Camera di San Paolo, or the Camera della Badessa in San Paolo Monastery, dedicated to the goddess Diana.
In the museum Galleria Nazionale at Palazzo della Pilotta, you can visit an amazing collection of medieval panel paintings of saints and martyrs that continues into the mannered portraits of the 19th century. Along the way, highlights include High Renaissance works from the Florentine school, Canaletto’s gold-bathed cityscapes of Venice, and Da Vinci’s sketch, including a young girl’s face, “La Scapiliata”. Multiple rooms are devoted to works by Correggio, notably the spooky, nocturnal.
Other theatre is regarded to visit is Teatro Farnese, it’s part of Palazzo della Pilotta. The old court theater of the dukes built entirely of wood in the early seventeenth century. Also inside the Palazzo della Pilotta the halls of the Palatina Library, the Archaeological Museum, with collections of Etruscan, Egyptian, Greek, Roman and numerous finds from prehistoric, and the Bodoni Museum deserve a few hours. Thousands of books correspondence and typographic tools of the printing Bodoni. Parco Ducale is simply the Garden for all Parma.
To achieve it you can just cross the river Parma on Ponte Verdi. Once through the gate, on the right you can see the Palazzo Ducale, elegant residence of the sixteenth century, designed by Vignola. The Parco Ducale is the perfect destination for a break; jogging, walking or a bit ‘ of relaxing on one of the many benches.
When we are talking about Parma we talk about food. Parma ham, Parmesan cheese, Lambrusco wine, the Barilla pasta company, the Alma Cooking School and, as the New York Times reminds us, Unesco has honored Parma Creative City for Gastronomy, never happened for an Italian city.
In Parma there are many traditional restaurants and fine-food boutiques and just outside Parma where also you’ll find museums related to everything from cured pork products to tomatoes. Parma is also a nice city to have a good night life; in fact Parma is a important university, which summons young students all over the North Italy.
So there are many bars and wine houses welcome every night the tourist and students.
Don’t forget that Parma, indeed in summer season, organize many events, mostly but not only tight with the music and culinary environment.