ParmaSpeaking of Parma, the first things that come to mind are probably the ham and Parmesan cheese. Indeed, Parma is one of the most important culinary centres of Italy — but this city is so much more than that. Parma was the capital of a very powerful duchy, which left a legacy of stunning monuments and palaces. In addition, the splendour of that period created fertile grounds for the flourishing of art. In fact, Parma became one of the main centres for opera, thanks to its amazing theatres and its fine citizen Giuseppe Verdi.
The CityParma, the ancient capital of the namesake Duchy, has been set to music by Giuseppe Verdi, narrated by Giovanni Guareschi and immortalised in film by Bernardo Bertolucci. It is one of the cities in Italy with the best standard of living and the highest levels of culture and cuisine. Indeed, in this region two of the most celebrated food products in the world are made: Parmesan cheese and Parma ham, together with culatello and Felino salami. Beyond being one of the capitals of Italy’s food industry, Parma is also an important artistic and cultural centre. The city, features a series of splendid art works and buildings, including the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Monastery of San Giovannni Evangelista, as well as plenty of theatres and palaces. In addition, Giuseppe Verdi was born nearby, and many of his operas are performed in the city’s magnificent opera house. So get prepared for a full immersion in art and culture, in all their possible forms!
City of GastronomyParma is the heart of the Italian Food Valley and one of the destinations with the highest number of typical products protected with quality brands in Italy. Parma was rewarded by UNESCO for its culinary contribution to the world with the title of UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Culatello di Zibello, Porcini Mushroom di Borgotaro, Coppa di Parma, numerous wines of the Parma hills and many more gastronomical gems call this land their home. You can enjoy all these casually — simply walk through the city streets and stop at any trattoria or osteria. The most delicious food is on every menu. Real foodies must not miss the opportunity to visit a Parmigiano cheese or Parma ham factory. They are usually located just outside the city, so you can even bike there and build up some appetite.
Do & See
Parma is not only rich when it comes to food — the city is has an impressive cultural and artistic tradition. This alluring town will for sure conquer you with its important art galleries, museums, ancient churches and buildings as well as stunning natural reserves and green areas in its vicinity. In this region you will find the right balance between cultural activities and active holiday, tied together with delicious food — a wining ensemble for the perfect stay in Italy.
Parmesan cuisine is full of variety. First and foremost, the city has given its name to several prized dairy and meat products, the highlights of which are undeniably Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) and Parma ham. As in the rest of Italy, meals are accompanied by local high-quality wines such as the reds Colli di Parma and Lambrusco, or the whites Sauvignon and Malvasia. The real autochthonous queens of the kitchen are the so-called "rezdore", all the grandmothers and mothers who can make real Parmesan dishes the tradition way. If you don't know anyone from here, you can taste local specialties in the numerous restaurants and trattorias, or as part of culinary tours around the city.
Sit back, relax and enjoy a nice cup of coffee accompanied by a delicious Italian pastry. One cake not to be missed is the Duchessa di Parma (the Parma duchess) — a rich cake with zabaglione and chocolate ganache dedicated to Napoleon’s wife, Maria Luigia Duchess. Parma, like any other city in Italy, has numerous historic cafes and ice cream parlours, as well as modern lively bars for nice aperitifs to start your Parmesan night adventure. Begin your exploration of Parma’s strong cafe culture and try a typical Italian espresso.
Bars & Nightlife
Parma boasts a lively before-dinner scene. Many bars have happy hours of all kinds, often accompanied by substantial snacks and good music. For that authentic aperitivo experience, go for a bowl (yes, a bowl) of Lambrusco — fruit-forward sparkling red wine typical Emilia-Romagna region. The actual Parmesan party scene starts in Via Farini later at night. People merrily drift from one wine bar to another, and later continue to dance or enjoy live music in clubs situated both in the centre and outside the city.
Italian fashion and food are the key themes for visiting Parma. The city centre is full of fashion boutiques: the most important shopping streets are via Garibaldi, Strada della Repubblica, via Cavour, via Mazzini and via Massimo D’Azeglio. Spend some time unhurriedly browsing clothes, leather goods and stylish shoes — treat yourself! For food, there are many shops with not only Parma ham and Parmesan cheese, but also an impressive variety of salted pork meats (try culatello and Felino salami), pasta and wines. In the many pastry shops, you can pick up the typical Parma cake called the Duchessa Maria Luigia and sweets called violette di Parma (violets of Parma). Violetta di Parma is also the name of the essence made in honour of the Duchess Maria Luigia — an olfactory gem of the region. Lastly, Parma has also a district of antiques shops and art galleries, which are located along Strada Farini, via XXII luglio and Strada della Repubblica.