Parma is the Italian city we mainly know for its delicious, world-famous cheese and ham. Anyone who feeds other senses in this city will be pleasantly surprised.
Parma was founded by the Romans about two thousand years ago. Thanks to that long history, the charming city is in no way inferior to larger Italian cities in terms of art treasures. Parma has a beautiful old center, neighborhoods with stately buildings, beautiful parks and gardens. The rich history is not only reflected in architecture and visual arts, but also in music and literature – composer Giuseppe Verdi and conductor Arturo Toscanini saw the light of day here.
The inhabitants of Parma, around 180,000, are convinced that they live in a small capital. Not least because the city once played this role in the past. In the sixteenth century it became the capital of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, under the rule of the Farnese family. The Farnese’s formed a powerful papal family from Rome. They were the successors of the Milanese Visconti and Sforza dynasties and ruled the Duchy from 1545 to 1731. When power was granted to Marie Louise of Austria, Napoleon’s second wife, Parma turned into an avant-garde city with French influences. Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma, is still loved by the inhabitants to this day because of her part in the refined appearance and charming character of Parma.
The Palazzo della Pilotta, a complex of luxurious buildings from different periods, is located in the art-historical heart of Parma. The palace can be seen as nothing but a palace. It belonged to the Farnese family and is surrounded by a shiny green lawn that until a few years ago still served as a parking space. Fortunately that is no longer the case. Palazzo della Pilotta is nowadays inhabited by Teatro Farnese, Pinacoteca Nazionale and Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Here you will find for example La testa di fanciulla by Leonardo Da Vinci, the beautiful Schiava turca by Parmigianino and the statue of Marie Louise, made by Antonio Canova. Other canvases that should not be missed are those of big names such as Fra Angelico, Van Dyck, Holbein and Canaletto. The Teatro Farnese (1617-1618) is a spectacular theater hall made of wood and stucco. The original decor from 1628 has been fully preserved. The construction and design are based on Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. From the Palazzo della Pilotta it is only a short distance to Piazza Garibaldi. Here residents and visitors enjoy an espresso, newspaper or a panino on one of the many beautiful terraces.
Dom en doopkapel
Vanaf Piazza Garibaldi wandel je door de middeleeuwse straatjes naar het meesterwerk van de stad: de dom en het baptisterium. De gebouwen zijn van romaanse oorsprong en kenmerken zich door het roze en goudwitte marmer dat de gebouwen hun lichtheid en warmte geeft. De koepel van de dom werd prachtig beschilderd door de grote renaissanceschilder Antonio Allegri, beter bekend als Correggio. Een bezoek aan het achthoekige baptisterium is ook zeer de moeite waard. Het staat symbool voor de overgang van de romaanse in de gotische periode. Het gebouw is voltooid in 1307. Alle reliëfs en beelden zijn van de hand van Benedetto Antelami. Zij verbeelden de maanden, seizoenen en sterrenbeelden.
Smell, music and taste
Parma is not only the city of ham, cheese and art, but also has many beautiful boutiques and special shops. You can’t miss it in the perfumeries: Acqua di Parma. The famous fragrance water from the city of the same name was not only the scent of Marie Louise, but is now also loved worldwide. If you stroll through the streets, you will automatically reach the beautiful Teatro Region. This opera house was originally called Teatro Ducale. Marie Louise started construction in 1821 on the site of the monastery of St. Alexander. Nicola Bettoli was responsible for the design. The theater was festively opened in 1829 with a performance of Bellini’s Zaira. The theater was loved by Giuseppe Verdi, who lived in nearby Busseto. Teatro Regio is still a music temple to this day. Every year many operas are staged here between the golden frames and the red velvet. The famous Parma orchestra also gives its concerts here. But the music is also present in other places. You will find a music building in all parts of the city, from concert halls and music chapels to the Paganini auditorium that is located in an old sugar factory (architect Renzo Piano is responsible for the design). At the end of the day, after a long walk that has spoiled most senses, a cozy trattoria or refined restaurant awaits. On the table, the unique tastes and smells fight each other. Enjoy culatello (pork sausage) and cooked pork shoulder, anolini al parmigiano (ravioli with meat and Parmesan cheese) and tortelli alle erbette (stuffed pasta in broth or topped with butter).
Whether you go for a week or a day, you will notice: Parma likes to show you everything and wants you to enjoy her beauty and flavors with all your senses. But with policy! You will not be overwhelmed anywhere – no matter how beautiful, tasty or impressive. And that makes the atmosphere of Parma very nice.