Is Parma Italy’s most authentic destination to get a taste of the Italian Bella Vita? The answer is a big, fat “yes”! Located in the heart of Emilia Romagna, the region that best embodies the true Italian spirit most tourists would like to experience, Parma offers some of the most famous Italian specialties. Is there any other city in Italy where you can take a stroll in a mellow, old town center with elegant cobblestoned streets and Renaissance buildings, eat authentic parmigiano and prosciutto coupled with exquisite Barbera and Lambrusco wine, and listen to classical music in some of the most beautiful and timeless opera houses in the country? Parma has everything it takes to become your next tourist destination!
Parma, Italy: where is it?
Parma is in Northern Italy, in the Emilia Romagna region between Milan and Bologna. It is less than two hours from Milan, two hours from Florence and one hour from Bologna. This fortunate position makes Parma an ideal destination for a day trip from bigger cities, also thanks to a modern and frequent train service connecting Parma with major cities
Sights in Parma
Parma is one of the most elegant and prosperous cities in Italy. Characterized by a chic and timeless flair, its compact old town center is a hidden gem where visitors can stroll around some of the greatest examples of Romanesque and Renaissance architecture.
- The Duomo – Located in the heart of the city, the 12th-century cathedral is a great example of Romanesque architecture, with a large number of Baroque elements in its interior. Among its treasures, there is one not to miss: the Assunzione della Vergine (Assumption of the Virgin) fresco that covers the inside of the cupola; this 1520s masterpiece was painted by Antonio da Correggio, one of the greatest painters of the High Renaissance.
- The Baptistery – Situated on the other side of the piazza, the imposing Baptistery beats the Duomo in height. Built of pink marble in an octagonal shape in the 12th century, it took 111 years to complete its construction. Its architecture is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic, while its surprising interior contains sixteen arches, forming alcoves each containing a painted scene.
- The National Gallery – Housed within the refined, 16th-century Pilotta Palace, the Galleria Nazionale is a place that art lovers cannot miss. Inside its monumental walls are housed a great number of masterpieces by some of the most famous Italian artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Correggio, Parmigianino and El Greco are just a few names.
Food in Parma
Is Parma Italy’s gastronomic paradise? It is enough to name two of the most famous Italian specialties to answer the question: Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma ham! Food is a serious business, not only in Parma, but also in the whole region: Emilia Romagna is also known as the “Italian kitchen.” But parmesan cheese and ham are not the only masterpieces to taste in Parma. This area is also known for culatello, the King of Italian salumi. Its meat is so refined and tasty that strolghino, a famous local salami, is prepared from its leftover cuts. Similar to Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma ham, culatello has a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status, which means it can only be labelled as such if it comes from the area around Parma. Foodies who want to experience the real taste of such world-renowned specialties should definitely pay a visit to Parma!
Music in Parma
Parma boasts one of the finest musical traditions in Europe and is home of one of the most prestigious venues for opera in Italy, Teatro Regio. Built in 1829 at the behest of Napoleon in an elegant Neoclassical style, this theater boasts a magnificent auditorium, enhanced by its wonderfully frescoed ceiling. Attending a performance here is quite an experience, not only because the memory of Giuseppe Verdi (one of the peninsula’s most celebrated composers) can be felt at every performance, but also because the Parma opera audience is regarded as one of the most knowledgeable in Italy. The theater has a busy schedule of operas, concerts and ballets from February to October. During the summer, Teatro Regio celebrates the work of Verdi by presenting a series of new productions.
One thing not to miss in Parma: the Barilla experience
Not many people know that Barilla, the world’s premier Italian culinary brand, was founded in 1877 in Ponte Taro, a small village just outside Parma. The company that in a few decades became the world’s leading pasta maker couldn’t have chosen a better region – Emilia Romagna is the heart of Italian cuisine and Parma is the cradle of one of the most favorite ingredients worldwide, pasta! The good news is that Barilla has recently founded Accademia Barilla, an place for everyone where the company opens its doors to those who share a love of Italian cuisine. Taking a cooking class in the world temple of food is the best way to enhance your trip to Parma!
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