Being provincial is far from always bad - that is exactly what can be said about the Italian city of Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region. Thanks to its favorable location, Parma has become known far beyond the borders of Italy, as the real capital of gastronomic tourism Apennine. Agree, the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning the name of the city is the famous Parmesan cheese. And you will not be mistaken if you say that it is Parma that is the birthplace of this wonderful product.
But this amazing city does not live alone as a Parmesan. Parma is both exquisite Italian architecture, picturesque streets, the oldest university in Europe, and the birthplace of famous artists and musicians Parmigianino, Correggio, Toscanini and Verdi, and the "protagonist" of Stendhal’s novel "Parma Monastery".
Parma is considered the gastronomic capital of the Apennines. Its main wealth is cheeses and deli meats
A bit of history
Founded by the Etruscans in ancient times, the city of Parma in Italy has a complex and complicated history. Back in the days of the Roman Empire (II century BC) Parma became an important commercial and agricultural center. In the vicinity of the city, cows and sheep were bred and supplied the Roman army with food - milk, meat, cheese, cottage cheese.
In the 1st century BC. Parma was destroyed by the soldiers of Mark Anthony, and then rebuilt by the emperor Augustus, in honor of which it became known as the Colony of Julius Augustus. With the fall of the Roman Empire, it was renamed Crysopolis (the "city of gold"), and in the Middle Ages the historical name was returned.
A fierce struggle has always been waged for a tidbit of land at the intersection of trade routes. Starting from the VI century, the city passed from hand to hand: the Lombards, Franks, bishops, Guelphs and Ghibellines ...
In the days of Farnese, the palace of Palazzo della Pilotta was built in Parma
In 1346, the power in the city was seized by the powerful Visconti family, annexing it to the Duchy of Milan. And in 1545, Parma inherited the Duke of Farnese. The autocratic family of Farnese has already established its own rules for two centuries. Nevertheless, it was the Farnese family who patronized the development of architecture and art in the city.
In 1731, the Farnese dynasty was interrupted. Parma was transferred to the heir on the female side - the Spanish king Charles III. After 4 years, he presented it to the Austrian emperor, who was soon forced to bring her back to Spain. Later, these lands were transferred to France, and then again to Spain. All this historical catavasia continued until 1860, when the city of Parma, together with neighboring Piacenza, finally joined Italy.
The main attractions of Parma
Most of the architectural sights of Parma were erected at the dawn era. I would like to start with ancient churches and monasteries, of which there are a great many in the city.
This is the famous baroque church of San Giovanni Evangelista (S. Giovanni Evangelista), painted by the unsurpassed Parma master Correggio, and similar to the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Madonna della Steccata, which houses the tomb of the Bourbons and the Ducal houses Farnese, and the monastery of St. Paul, and the cathedral with the baptistery in the Duomo square.
By the way, the baptistery is built of unusual pink marble, which changes color depending on the lighting. This is one of the most amazing buildings not only of medieval Parma, but also of Italy as a whole.
Duomo Square - one of the visiting cards of Italian Parma
Do not ignore the amazing Parma landmark - the Palazzo della Pilotta Palace, built in the 16th century for the family of the Duke of Farnese. Here you can visit the Academy of Fine Arts with paintings by Parma artists, the National Gallery, the Archaeological Museum, the Bodoni Museum and the Farnese Theater.
Of the architectural sights of Parma, the bishop’s palace (11th century), the ruler’s palace (13th century), the duke’s palace (16th century) and the commune’s palace (17th century) are also of interest.
It was in the city of Parma in 1601 that one of the oldest European universities was founded. The educational institution is functioning now. And it’s not just functioning, but is included in the TOP-300 of the best universities in the world, which, you see, is very good for a “provincial” town.
The Glauco Lombardi Museum is interesting in the collection of things by Maria Louise
Near the university is one of the most interesting museums of Parma - the museum of the University of Parma professor Glauco Lombardi. Throughout his life, Lombardi has been collecting historical items. The museum presents many personal items of Napoleon Bonaparte's second wife, Maria Louise, as well as a rich exposition telling about the history of the city of Parma itself.
Well, finally, be sure to look into the Parma Botanical Garden, leading its history from 1770.
Opera in the city of Parma
As we wrote above, the Italian Parma gave the world a whole scattering of outstanding geniuses, among which one of the first places is occupied by the world famous composer Giuseppe Verdi, born in the outskirts of the city. It is not surprising that it was the Reggio Opera House in Parma that became the concert venue where the world first heard the famous Traviata and Rigoletto.
The interior of the Reggio Theater is striking in its sophistication and sophistication.
The spirit of genius of the composer still hovers under the arches of this historical theater. His presence is especially felt in October, during the annual Verdi festival, dedicated to the birthday of a genius. By the way, few people know that the Reggio Parma Royal Theater has long been fighting for the championship with the La Scala Theater in Milan.
If you manage to visit Parma, be sure to go to the Reggio Theater. After that, you can take a fresh look at world opera art. Tickets for the theater can be purchased online on this site, their cost starts from 11 euros.
Gastronomic tourism of Parma: the best tastes of Italy
The whole history of the city of Parma is inextricably linked with agriculture. It is the subsistence economy that made Parma cuisine famous throughout the world. Take, for example, the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which in Russian is simply called parmesan. It is made from the milk of cows grazing only in the vicinity of the city of Parma, and the production process takes 18-30 months!
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese - the real pride of the city of Parma
No less famous taste of Parma is considered Prosciutto di Parma ham. Only here they produce the famous meat delicacies salame di Felino, culatello, coppa di Parma and many others.
Culatello di Zibello - the most expensive Parma delicacy
Parma is also considered the birthplace of delicious tortelli and world-famous Barilla pasta.
And for dessert you should try Zuppa Inglese - a traditional tiramisu of the Emilia-Romagna region with a glass of local Lambrusco sparkling wine.
Culinary specialists, as well as true connoisseurs of Italian cuisine, can not only taste these delicious dishes, but also learn how to cook them by attending a culinary master class at Barilla Academy.
How to get to Parma
Parma is located about halfway between Milan and Bologna. The nearest major airport, where airplanes fly from Moscow, Kiev, St. Petersburg and other CIS cities, is located in Milan.
From Milan to Parma can be reached by rail, which takes no more than one and a half hours, or by rented car (A1 Bologna-Milan highway).
Well, for those who plan to stay in the gastronomic capital of Italy for more than one day, we recommend finding housing in this amazing city. The most complete list of Parma hotels with photos, maps and reviews of thousands of travelers is presented here.