Parma Tourist Attractions
SituationParma, the former capital of the duchy of Parma, now a provincial capital and seat of an university, lies at the foot of the Apennines in the North Italian plain on the banks of the River Parma, a tributary of the Po.In spite of its long history, the town, situated on the old Roman main road, the Via Aemilia, is a city of modern aspect, with straight streets on a regular plan.
In the town center, on the right bank of the Torrente Parma, fine new squares have been laid out. On the other bank of the river lies the old town, Parma Vecchia, with the Palazzo Ducale and a park. The area is also known for its Parma ham and Parmesan cheese.HistoryParma became a Roman colony in 183 B.C. During the Middle Ages it became a place of some consequence through its woolen mills and its university. The town, always on the Guelf side, belonged to Milan from 1341 to 1512, when it was annexd to the States of the Church. In 1545 Pope Paul III granted the duchies of Parma and Piacenza to his natural son Pier Luigi Farnese. When the Farnese male line died out in 1731 the duchies passed to a collateral line of the Bourbons. They came under French rule in 1806, and in 1816 were granted to Napoleon's wife Marie Louise for life, reverting to the Bourbons on her death. After the expulsion of the Bourbons in 1860 the territory was incorporated in the new kingdom of Italy.The painter Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio (1489-1534), the great master of chiaroscuro, lived and worked in Parma.
The central feature of Parma is the Piazza Garibaldi in which stands the Palazzo del Governatore, with a facade dating from 1760 and an astronomical clock. Nearby is the Palazzo del Municipio (Town Hall; 1627-73).
From Piazza Garibaldi in Parma the busy Strada Cavour runs north. On the right the short Strada al Duomo leads to the Piazza del Duomo. Immediately on the left of this square is the Bishop's Palace, on the right the Baptistery, a massive octagonal marble building begun in Romanesque style by Benedetto Antelami in 1196-1216 (the doorways, with reliefs of scriptural subjects, are his work) and completed in Gothic style in 1260; it contains 13th century high reliefs and frescoes.
On the east side of the Piazza del Duomo in Parma is the cathedral, a Romanesque pillared basilica dating from the 12th century, whose wide facade forms an impressive group with the adjoining campanile (63m/208ft high) of 1284-94. In the dome is a huge fresco of the "Assumption of the Virgin" by Correggio (1526-30). In the south transept is a relief by Benedetto Antelami of the "Descent from the Cross" (1178), originally on a pulpit. In the crypt are some beautiful pillars and early Christian floor mosaics.
St John the Evangelists Church
Behind the cathedral in Parma stands the convent church of San Giovanni Evangelista, a Renaissance building (1510) with a Baroque façade of 1607 and a slender tower of 1614. It contains fine frescoes by Correggio (in the dome; 1521-23) and his pupil Parmigianino. Beside the convent is the Storica Farmacia di San Giovanni Evangelista, an old chemist's shop, with a Renaissance interior and ceramic containers (16th-18th centuries).
Palazzo della Pilotta
From the Piazza del Duomo the Strada al Duomo and Strada Pisacane lead west to the Piazzale Marconi, which was much enlarged after the Second World War. On the west side of this square is the Palazzo della Pilotta (Pilotta palace), a huge brick building begun in 1583 but left unfinished, which has a fine courtyard. It derives its name from the fact that a ball-game like the Basque game of "pelota" used to be played in the three inner courtyards.
Address: Piazzale della Plotta 15, I-43100 Parma, Italy
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
In the Palazzo are the Galleria Nazionale, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and - in the Palazzo Farnese of the Pilotta palace - the Biblioteca Palatina, the Bodoni Museum (printing) and a Picture Gallery (Galleria Nazionale), with important works by Correggio ("Madonna del San Girolamo" and "Madonna della Scodella"), Parmigianino, Fra Angelico, Giulio Romano, Cima da Conegliano, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Carracci, El Greco including a drawing (study of a head) by Leonardo da Vinci.
The Teatro Farnese was built entirely in wood by Aleotti, a pupil of Palladio, in 1618-28; it was then the largest theater in the world (4,500 seats).
In front of the Palazzo della Pilotta stands a memorial to the composer Giuseppe Verdi, who hailed from the town of Le Roncole in the province of Parma.
On the east side of the Piazza della Pace in Parma is the Museo Glauco Lombardi, housed in the Palazzo di Riserva, which contains an art collection with works of the 18th-19th centuries.
Address: Palazzo di Riserva, Via Garibaldi 15, I-43100 Parma, Italy
Opening hours: Jul 1 to Aug 31: 9:30am-3:30pm; Sun: 9am-1:30pm; Closed: Mon
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 9:30am-3:30pm; Sun: 9am-6:30pm; Closed: Mon
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 9:30am-3:30pm; Sun: 9am-6:30pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15)
St Pauls Room
A short distance east of the Piazzale Marconi, in a former Benedictine nunnery, is the Camera di San Paolo (St Paul's room), with well-preserved frescoes by the young Correggio (1518-19: Diana; the Goddess of Love, with the famous "putti del Correggio").
South of the Piazzale Marconi, on the right-hand side of Strada Garibaldi, is the Teatro Regio (Royal Theater), one of Italy's finest theaters.The audience attending operas here is considered the toughest in Italy, especially for the works of Giussepe Verdi, who was born in the village of Roncole nearby in 1813. Because of the Verdi connection, Parma attracts opera lovers from around the world during its season. Originally built in 1829 as the Nuovo Teatro Ducale, it was renamed Teatro Regio after Italian independence.
Madonna della Steccata
Opposite the Teatro Regio is the fine domed church of the Madonna della Steccata (1521-39), modeled on St Peter's in Rome (Greek-cross plan). Inside there are fine frescoes on the triumphal arch and on the dome.
Oltre Torrente District
From Piazza Garibaldi Strada Mazzini runs west over the Ponte di Mezzo (fragments of the old Roman bridge, rebuilt, in underpass) spanning the River Parma into the Oltre Torrente district or Parma Vecchio, the oldest part of Parma. At the near end of Strada Massimo d'Azeglio, on the left, is the church of the Santissima Annunziata, a Baroque building (1566) with an unusual ground-plan and a boldly designed dome (1626-32).
The Romanesque church of Santa Croce in Parma contains good 17th century frescoes.
House of Toscanini
Extending to the banks of the Parma, is the large Parco Ducale, in the northeast corner of which is the Palazzo Ducale (1564).
The surroundings of Parma include the Apennine village of Torrechiara and the interesting little town of Sabbioneta.
There is a fine trip to the Apennine village of Torrechiara, which has a 15th century castle magnificently situated above the valley of the Parma (Camera d'Oro, with beautiful painted wall tiles and frescoes by Benedetto Bembo).
Northeast of Parma, on the banks of the River Po, is Brescello, the town in which the stories of Don Camillo and Peppone (by Giovanni Guareschi, 1908-68; starring Fernandel and Gino Cervi) were filmed. In the main square is a statue of Hercules dating from the Renaissance period.
Northeast of Parma is the interesting little town of Sabbioneta (18m/59ft), which Vespasiano Gonzaga (1531-91) made the very model of a small princely residence of the Renaissance period (fortifications, Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo del Giardino, Chiesa dell'Incoronata; theater in which performances are given in summer).
Map of Parma Attractions