In the footsteps of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma

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In the footsteps of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma


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Her Imperial Majesty The Empress Marie Louise, after Napoleon’s abdication in April 1814, was made the ruler of the duchies of Parma (Piacenza and Guastalla).

She arrived in Colorno in 1816, the palace was restored during 18th century by a French architect who tried to emulate in the interior the decor of the Palace of Versailles; with more than 400 rooms, courtyard and a magnificent French garden it became the summer residence of the Duchess.

Marie Louise found in Parma a warm welcome, the same feeling you will have visiting the city today. And she brought to the city a special flair, it seems that Parma wears its elegant, well-kept streets and buildings as a prosperous, self-conscious woman would wear her jewels.

One of them is the Regio Theatre (initially called Ducal Theatre) commissioned by Marie Louise, it was inaugurated in 1829 and became one of the birthplaces of Italian melodrama. Every season in this world-famous opera house is rich and it suits to every tastes: opera, concerts and above all the Verdi Festival in October each year.

  • Colorno

  • Parma Cathedral | Ph. @nar_nehc

  • Regio Theatre, Parma | Ph. Paolo Barone

Another little jewel is the “violetta” the violet, it seems that Marie Louise just arrived in Parma, was personally in charge of their cultivation. The first bottles of the perfume “Violetta di Parma” were produced after a long and patient work by the monks of Annunciata supported by the Duchess, they were made solely for the personal use of Maria Luigia.
The formula was intended to be kept secret, for private use only, but today it is available to the public. It is no accident that Parma houses the first Italian Perfume Museum, inside Palazzo Borsari; it was around 1870 when Mr Borsari obtained the secret formula, but that’s a different story.

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