[Emilia-Romagna Art Cities] Parma in 3 Minutes
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
It’s easy to live in Parma, but you have to agree with the people about music and gastronomy
(Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma)
Also known as the Ducal city, due to its history but also from the aristocratic attitude its inhabitants, it is also a University headquarter since the eleventh century and, due to its amazing food traditions, in December 2015 it has also become a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy. But Parma is above all a city to be felt with the eyes and with the taste, which still bears visible signs of its Aristocratic past, with its tree-lined avenues, its nineteenth-century gardens and its Boulevards along the Parma River.
Probably founded by Etruscan, the city of Parma developed and flourished at the time of the Roman colonization of North Italy, with a strategic role compared to the traffic coming from today’s Liguria and directed towards the great northern-European routes. Border town guarding the Apennine foothills in 1545 Pope Paul III (born Alessandro Farnese) established the Duchy of Parma, entrusting it to his illegitimate son Pier Luigi Farnese.
From that moment, and until 1731, the city of Parma will follow the events of the House of Farnese, passing through the times in the hands of the House of Bourbon and then to the House of Habsburgs. After the Napoleonic Wars, in 1814 the Duchy of Parma was re-established and temporarily entrusted to Marie Louis, and, in 1860 it was definitively annexed the Duchy and the city of Parma enters the history of the Kingdom of Italy.
Among the few Italian cities to be considered worthy heir to Paris, it is distinguished by stupendous noble palaces set in a unique historic center that combines Italian taste with the sophistication of European courts. The centerpiece of the city is the Pilotta Palace, a gigantic unfinished complex, and former Ducal residence – now a Museum -, from which you can quickly reach all the most interesting points of the city such as the Baptistery and the Duomo, which houses the unmissable dome frescoed by Correggio. Do not miss also the frescoes of Parmigianino in the church of “Santa Maria della Steccata” as well as the works contained in the church of San Giovanni Evangelista where we still find Parmigianino and Correggio works.
But Parma is also a city of music and theater, a passion that could be perceived in the variety of proposals and structures dedicated to it: the Paganini Auditorium, the House of Music, the Arturo Toscanini Museum, the House of Sound and not least the Regio Theatre, which was inaugurated in 1829 and which is still one of the most renowned theaters in the world. We suggest also a walk through the Boulevards of Parco Ducale, which was restored in 1749 by the French architect Alexandre Petitot.
The city of Parma is also famous for its good life and good taste. Here are made the most popular Italian gastronomic products in the world. Thousands of Parmigiano Reggiano wheels await maturation in silent and remote farmhouses. Along the hills, cellars of manors and castles hide from the eyes of the curious the delicious cured meats and hams, that only this special micro-climate of can create.
Among the museums of Parma worth a visit the Pilotta Palace, which houses in its spaces the fabulous Farnese Theater and the National Gallery, one of the most impressive and important collections of paintings of Italy. It also worth a visit the University Museum of Communication which is housed within the Cistercian Abbey of Valserena and which preserves the most extensive visual and design cultural heritage in Italy in the twentieth century, gathering over 12 million materials.
For those who are interested in the area, we recommend the Giuseppe Verdi National Museum, dedicated to the great Italian composer and hosted within the renowned Villa Pallavicino in Busseto, the Magnani Rocca Foundation which houses works ranging from Tiziano to Renoir, from Goya to Rubens, passing through De Chirico, Burri and much more.
BEYOND THE CITY OF PARMA
If the city of Parma is a little Italian capital, its territory represents all the beauty can be found in Italy. From the banks of the Po River to the Apennine peaks we could see a succession of ancient castles, noble manor houses, villas and country residences and food factories and museums set in a varied landscape that goes from the immense plain spaces to the narrow valleys Mountain.
In the so-called Bassa Padania (the north Italian Region which extends throughout the Po river valley) the culture of the land and the processing of pork meat are transformed into true works of culinary art with ancient traditions, even if there are architectural masterpieces such as the Colorno Palace with its vast gardens and the Fontanellato Castle.
The Apennine starts instead in the south of the Via Emilia to reach the high ridge lands on the border with Liguria and Tuscany. The Valleys are those of Ceno, del Taro, and Parma, born from the corrosion of the three respective watercourses. The landscape wonders, the legendary castles, the clear air and the historical testimonies allow you to live these areas of the border in an intense and satisfying way.
HOW TO GET TO PARMA
Parma is located in northern Italy, in Emilia-Romagna, halfway between Bologna and Milan, a strategic position that allows you to quickly reach others destinations such as Venice, Ferrara, and Verona.
The Giuseppe Verdi Airport in Parma is connected to the center by bus and taxi, available at all hours. As an alternative, it is possible to use the Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna or the international and intercontinental Malpensa Airport in Milan.
Parma railway Station is connected to the most important national railway lines, and it can be easily reached in 1 hour from Bologna and Milan Stations.
It is possible to reach Parma by car either through the A1 motorway – Parma exit – or through the CISA A15 motorway – Parma Ovest exit – which connects the city of Parma to the Mediterranean Sea and to the major harbors of Liguria and Tuscany.
(The city center of Parma is a limited traffic zone, here more information on where to park)