The city is located in the Northern part of the region Emilia-Romagna, along the Via Emilia, between the Padana flat land, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the coast of Liguria region behind the mountains, in a strategic position, for reaching places of touristic, cultural and maritime relevance quickly.
Parma’s center is full of art masterpieces, wide green spaces, little and big treasures from different ages, welcoming visitors and citizens all in the refined atmosphere of a petite capital. The presence of music in the history of the city is various and recognized worldwide; the spirit of initiative and everyone’s passion give the city a deserved relevant position among the capitals of music. The gastronomic tradition is also very remarkable, offering, besides cold cuts and cheese which are famous all over the world, first courses of homemade pasta cooked in different ways. Parma in 2015 has been designated Creative City of Gastronomy Unesco.
It will be the Capital city of Culture in 2020.
Parma can be visited in every period of the year.
The historical centre of Parma is divided into three big parts: Piazza Garibaldi, that was in part the site of the Roman forum, and where the centre of the Municipality is located. There is also the Governor’s palace, with its Baroque tower, which houses the bell of the high civic tower collapsed in 1606, the crowned Virgin in the niche of the bell tower and the two sun-dials dating back to 1829.
Piazza Duomo, where the highest artistic and religious expressions of the city stand, such as the Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption, which is among the main representative Romanic buildings of the Padana region, started around the year 1059 and consecrated in 1106; the Baptistery, a symbol of the passage from the late Romanic to Gothic, made of pink marble from Verona, started in 1196 and finished in 1307 and the Bishop’s palace, dating back to the 11th - 12th century. Re-arranged many times, the present version dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Finally, Piazza della Pilotta, now Piazzale della Pace, is the symbol of ducal power with the Pilotta palace, ancient palace of the court and state services belonging to the Farnese family. The rooms host the Archaeological museum, the beautiful Palatina library, the National gallery and the Farnese theatre and the courtyard is the scenery of a Festival with shows and concerts every summer.
The city’s flower symbol of the city, the violet, particularly loved by the Duchess Maria Luigia d'Austria, is now a famous perfume and a delicious frosted candy, the right gifts to purchase as a souvenir from Parma. Created and launched in 1870 by Lodovico Borsari who gave the name to a renowned perfume factory, the violet of Parma became a cult in fashion, literature and the imagery of the city.
The star of the parmesan gastronomy is the pork from which Prosciutto di Parma is made, accompanied by Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. First courses are also typical, such as cappelletti or anolini cooked in broth, homemade pasta stuffed with stew cooked as well in broth and served most of all during Christmas time. Among the main courses there is stew, cooked slowly and for a long time in beef’s broth.
Nightlife in Parma starts with the traditional aperitif, that is usually a get together right before dinnertime, becoming often a dinner itself and continuing until late at night. The pedestrian area of Strada Farini, departing from Piazza Garibaldi, features a row of places to have a drink, as well as Via D’Azeglio, a street of the city centre called “over the river”. Joining a small group of people with a glass in their hand, standing outside of the bars and invading the streets, is for sure the most fun way to start the night in Parma.
A night at the Regio theatre during the opera season or the Festival Verdi is not to be missed, the festival takes place every year in October. In September delicious pork is celebrated with the Festival of Prosciutto tempting gluttons with its events.
Many more are the events during the year, for every taste, from music to gastronomy, theatre and art.
Passing a weekend in the Parma territory, that is from the Po river to the Apennines, is a chance to discover the treasures of the surrounding areas, scattered with castles and fortresses among which are the Rocca Sanvitale in Fontanellato (18 Km West), the Castle of Torrechiara (20 Km South) and the Reggia of Colorno (15 Km North), reachable also by public transport. To taste this land at its best you can’t miss a stop at one or more of the Food museums, the Cheese one in Soragna, the Ham one in Langhirano or the Salami one in Felino.
For those who love to go trekking, the Via Francigena is an itinerary that follows the Medieval pilgrims’ path, the historical path that goes from Piacenza to the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, passing through Fidenza and Parma.