Things to do in Parma: The Culture Capital Of Emilia Romagna, Italy! Make sure to include Parma in your next itinerary to Italy! This city, in the Emilia Romagna region in the North of the country has been made famous by its gastronomic exports but has much more to offer than just fabulous food. We will get to the food a little later…
Things to do in Parma
A little bit about Parma’s history
Parma has been around since Pre-Etruscan times and was already an established area in the Bronze Age. The Roman colony was founded in 183BC, together with Modena.
Battistero, Things to do in Parma, Italy by Città di Parma
It has had a turbulent history, being occupied and destroyed many times before the latest damage the city suffered during the German occupation from 1943 to 1945, when several monuments were damaged by the Allied bombardment.
However, Parma was relatively lucky to escape without widespread devastation and there are still a great number of monuments to be seen today. The city is also home to the oldest university in the world!
Parma and Architecture
If you are fond of Art, Architecture and Culture, this is the city for you, and you will need at least 2-3 days to see all there is to admire, and also visit the world-famous opera house, the Teatro Regio.
This is the home of Verdi and Toscanini, and opera lovers flock here to hear their favourites; the Opera season runs from about April to December, with a festival in October.
Teatro Regio di Parma, Things to do in Parma, Italy by youflavio
There is a lot of Art to be seen if you keep reading this article you will find out all the Parma tourist attractions!
The best place to start would probably be the Pilotta Palace in the historical centre of the town. This Palace now houses some of the most important collections in the city, including the National Gallery where you can see artwork by Correggio, Parmigianino, Leonardo, Tintoretto, van Dyck and many others.
While you are there also visit the Bodoni Museum, home to everything to do with printing and then move on to the Palatine Library to see amazing collections of old books. The Pilotta Palace also houses the Archaeological Museum, worth a visit if you are interested in old artefacts.
Palazzo della Pilotta, Things to do in Parma, Italy by Brian Adamson
Next on your list should be the Piazza Duomo, where you can visit the 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral, filled with Renaissance art. Entrance is free and you can visit it daily from 10:00 to 19:00. Be sure to see the Assumption by Correggio in the central cupola.
Cathedral of Parma, Things to do in Parma, Italy by Mattana
After viewing the Duomo, walk to the close-by Baptistry, a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles, and home to several frescoes dating from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Aerial view of Duomo and Battistero, Things to do in Parma, Italy by Carlo Ferrari
There is another great art collection to be seen at the Court Villa of Mamiano where works by Rubens, Tiziano, Goya, Monet, etc can be viewed.
Enough about the culture… I am sure you get the picture! Parma also offers great shopping! If you like antiques, head for the Borgo Nazario Sauro, a small winding road near the centre, where you can explore one antique dealer after the next. This is a great place to find something special to take home.
Piazza Garibaldi, Palazzo del Governatore, Things to do in Parma, Italy by Carlo Ferrari
Parma and gourmet food
Parma is known all over the world for its most famous exports, namely Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham) and Parmigiano Reggiano (Real Parmesan Cheese), and you really must try both of these and even take some home.
Amazing Burrata and Prosciutto di Parma, Things to do in Parma by Luca Sartoni
But Parma also has several other gastronomic specialities that you should try! So look out for some of the following on restaurant menus: Anolini in Brodo – this is a dish of little pasta parcels filled with beef, Parmesan, poached in a delicious broth; it is a speciality of the town!
Also try Tortelli di Erbetta, pasta filled with ricotta, Parmesan and spinach – quite delicious and good for vegetarians.
Parmigiano Reggiano, Things to do in Parma by Kelly Hau
If you want to try your hand at some Parmesan cookery when you go home try and find the book: “Parma – A Capital of Italian Gastronomy” by Guilano Bugliali – it is full of wonderful local recipes.
It is possible to go on a tour to see how Parma Ham and Parmesan are made, and you should not miss this experience to round off your visit to the city.
Things to do in Parma, Italy by Città di Parma