Parma is the city you don’t know you must visit in Italy! Although I visited it for Christmas a few years ago when everything was obviously closed, I still loved it very much.
And I’m not talking only about prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano, which are real Parmesan cheeses. However, those are of significant value indeed. Parma was declared the Italian Capital of Culture for 2020-2021 – now let’s see why it should be your next destination.
1. Duomo di Parma
Duomo di Parma should be first on your tick list: this is an incredible architectural sight dating back to 1074 (the previous basilica on this site was destroyed by fire) and was consecrated in 1106.
Come and admire its Romanesque and Renaissance heritage, two lions at the entrance, the incredible cupola features The Assumption of the Virgin by Antonio da Correggio and frescoes by Lattanzio Gambara along the central nave of the cathedral.
The octagonal Baptistery near Duomo di Parma is built from the most delicately coloured Verona marble. It is a symbol of Parma and all the mediaeval Italian heritage!
It was commissioned in 1196, allowing Romanesque and Gothic styles to organically mix from the base up to the top. Its interior is completely covered in frescoes, mostly dating to the 13 and 14th centuries. In the centre, there’s a large baptismal font. You can also visit the Diocesan Museum with your entry ticket to the Baptistery.
3. Ducal Palace and the Ducal Park
First of all, it’s worth mentioning that Parma, as Italy was a Fascist state and an ally of Germany during WWII, was bombed by the US Air Force in 1944. The main Ducal Palace, along with some other buildings on Piazzale della Pace, was heavily damaged. The main Ducal Palace was never restored after that.
What we now know as the Parma Ducal Palace is the Palazzo del Giardino or the Garden Palace. It houses the Carabinieri offices. The Farnese family built it as a residence, with the construction starting in the 16th century. It was rebuilt as a lavish palace later in the 17th-18th century with beautiful frescoes inside.
4. Church of San Giovanni Evangelista
The Church of San Giovanni Evangelista is another gem of Parma you must visit at all costs. It dates to the 16th century. It is also famous for its frescoes by Antonio da Correggio, who also created the masterpieces for the Duomo just nearby.
The abbey on this site dates to the 10th century; however, it was damaged by fire and rebuilt around 1490-1519. The Mannerist facade by Simone Moschino dates to the early 17th century. The frescoes of cupola are made by Correggio. The tower – the tallest in Parma – is 75 metres tall and was finished in 1613.
5. Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi
Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, also known as Piazza del Comune or Piazza Grande, now named after a famous Italian political and military figure who united Italy in the 19th century, is a pretty ancient space dating to the Middle Ages on the site of the Roman Forum.
This is undoubtedly the city’s administrative centre: see there the Palazzo del Governatore (Governor’s palace), Palazzo Vecchio (also known as Palazzo del Comune), the church of San Pietro, and some antique remains. There are lots of shops and restaurants in the area as well.
Another square to visit is Piazzale della Pace with Palazzo della Pilotta (Bodoni Museum, Biblioteca Palatina, Teatro Farnese and National Archaeological Museum are all located there) and many restaurants. If you have more time, consider attending a Parmigiano-Reggiano factory and Prosciutto di Parma factory tour!
You might also like:
- photoshoot in Rome,
- your guide to Rome,
- Guide to Venice p.1 and p.2
- 9 museums to see in Venice
- Lake Garda,
- Befana in Italy
Hope you liked my blog!