Must See Parma!

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You must see Parma

A Charming Italian City

A charming city renowned as Italy’s food capital, Parma is a gastronomic delight. Located in northern Italy, approximately an hour and a half drive south of Milan, you really must see Parma. Here you will experience delicious Italian food in the heart of the Emilia Romagna region.

This region of Italy is famous for Parmesan cheese known as Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham, and balsamic vinegar. Furthermore, it is the birthplace of Barilla Pasta, Guiseppe Verdi (the opera composer) and loads more… It also has one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in the 10th century.

Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi

My connection

I really love this city, not only for the food culture, but because of my Italian heritage. My mother and grandparents were born here. I have visited twice as a child, so coming back here so many years later, was a trip down memory lane for me recently. One I was thrilled to share with my husband and children.

Torrente Parma – stream dividing the city

Getting here

We chose to hire a car from Milan, which we pre-booked on-line. After planning our route, we drove directly to Parma to enjoy a 4 day stay. I have some great tips I can share with you on driving in Italy, if you’re interested.

10 tips for driving in Italy

Markets

Upon arrival, markets greeted us everywhere. It was Saturday and vendors were in full swing on almost every street and alleyway. I love markets – such a frenzy of activity, and all your senses are alert. All manner of goods were for sale; from clothes, crafts, bags and shoes, to food, food and more food!

A huge assortment of Italian delights were on display for your tasting pleasure, a veritable smorgasbord, including salami, prosciutto, cheese and wines. Mouthwatering stuff. Markets run every week, which is fantastic if you love the hustle and bustle, as I do. Italians love to shop and talk about food, and sample at the mercati.

Market

Food

As a big foodie, a big part of my time here was devoted to researching the food. It involves hours of laborious tasting and testing. It’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it, right?

I discovered there is a Festival of Prosciutto each year in September, to honour the king of cold meats. The ‘Prosciutto di Parma’ brand is made from a special breed of pigs from the region.

Typical fare in Parma – Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
The Rastelli Shop pictured here produces its own Parmesan Cheese

After thorough and extensive investigations, eating my way around Parma, my findings conclude firstly, that pizza in Parma is absolutely delicious everywhere you go. Without a doubt, there is no such thing as a bad pizza here.

Tortelli d’erbetta

Pasta of course, is absolutely exceptional here. The standouts for me are Tortelli stuffed with ricotta and spinach, absolutely delicious and very popular in these parts. But my personal favourite, Cappelletti in Brodo, are clear winners and something everyone should taste. These cute little hat-shaped pasta, filled with meat and served in a delicious broth are a culinary delight, and are good for the soul!

These local dishes from the Emilia-Romagna region are served in almost every restaurant here. Cappelletti and tortelli are widely featured on the menus. I was ecstatic and in foodies heaven, having grown up on these dishes at home, thanks to my Nonna, who brought the tradition from here to Australia with her, more than 60 years ago. Grazie Nonna.

Cappelletti in Brodo at La Greppia

Wine

Lambrusco wines are from this region of Italy also, with more than 60 different varieties of Lambrusco grapes grown in the region. The making of Lambrusco dates as far back as Roman times. The Romans drank wine? Really??!! The most popular is the sweet red frizzante variety.

Restaurants

I was a bit disgruntled to find that restaurants were only open a few hours each day; lunch was only from 12 to 2.30pm, so if we wanted to have a late lunch on our holidays, we couldn’t because a lot of kitchens were closed. But perhaps that was due to the fact it was Winter. Similarly, in the evenings we had to wait until 7 or 7.30pm before restaurants opened. I got caught out a couple of times, thinking the restaurants were open longer hours, which was very annoying. However, takeaway outlets were more readily open. Crisis averted!

Two fabulous restaurants I went to are Pizzeria Orfeo in Via Giosuè Carducci and La Greppia in Strada Giuseppe Garibaldi. I thoroughly recommend both of these establishments for authentic Italian fare and excellent service, the second one being more upmarket. To top off a scrumptious meal at La Greppia, our wonderful waiter brought out a complimentary dessert platter. OMG! Unfortunately, I had to share it with my dinner companions.

Italian sweets at La Greppia

Park

The Parco Ducale is the central meeting point in the city with a lovely pond and garden to stroll around and to just hang out. It’s been here since 1560 and has fruit trees and fountains too. I remember it as a young girl, although it seemed much bigger then. A very peaceful spot to relax.

You must see Parma
Parco Ducale

However, a word of warning, watch out for the birds! We were virtually attacked by a flock of birds, dozens of them in fact, which swooped over us touching our heads. I ducked as I had my finger on the camera button and managed to get photos of this frightening ordeal. Luckily, we survived relatively unscathed.

You must see Parma
Attack of the Birds

History & Art

You must see Parma
Piazza Del Duomo

Touring around the city there are numerous ancient sites which I loved to admire and appreciate. You must see Parma’s Piazza Duomo where you will find the Cathedral of Parma, an important historic attraction of Roman architecture dating from 1059. It has grand frescoes painted by Renaissance artists and sculptures of the Gothic era.

You must see Parma
Parma Baptistery

The Battistero (above) is a very distinct building. It is an octagonally shaped medieval monument next to the Parma Cathedral. It is made of beautiful pink Verona marble. Dating from 1196, it has been very well maintained. One of the most important buildings in Europe. Apparently, the design aspects of the edifice are some how related to the astronomical calendar governed by the sun, moon and planets.

You must see Parma
Strada Luigi Carlo Farini

Streets

When visiting old cities I particularly enjoy wandering around the gorgeous old streets and lanes. Whilst exploring you absorb the atmosphere of a city, and find interesting places. The streets of Parma are quite enchanting and very romantic to get lost in.

You must see Parma
Strada Della Repubblica

Museum

I visited the delightful Glauco Lombardi Museum. This is the former home of Napoleon’s second wife. She was made Duchess of Parma after he was defeated. Artefacts and memorabilia from their life together in Europe during the 1800’s really show you intimate details of these historical characters. Entry is only €5. Well worth the visit.

You must see Parma
Museum

Culture

Everywhere you turn there are historic buildings, as with all European cities. Great architecture and fabulous artwork in the form of paintings and sculptures from ancient times adorn the many galleries and churches here. And that is why Parma has recently been given the title of Italy’s Capital of Culture. Truly well deserved, but of course, I’m a bit biased. You must see Parma for yourself.

You must see Parma
Architecture of Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata

There’s more …

Another feather in its cap is that Parma is the capital city of the region that designs and produces engineering masterpieces – Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. Yes indeed!

I was lucky enough to be granted an exclusive VIP tour of the Lamborghini factory. So have a look at my blog post. Read all the details, with loads of pics for all you car enthusiasts.

Tours

I recommend doing either a foodies/cooking tour here, or a walking tour of Parma. Some great options are listed below. Have fun and buon appetito.

I hope you now have a little taste of why you must see Parma.

Ciao for now.

I’d love to receive any comments. Have you been to Parma? Please share below.

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You must see Parma

16 thoughts on “Must See Parma!

  1. Than you, Madam ! Parma has a great style !

    “Oh let the skies thy worthy mirror be!
    And in dear stars thy shape and image see…”

  2. Ha ha ha, eating your way through Parma sounds like SUCH a hard job. I’m so proud of you for persevering 😉 I’ve hard great things about Parma but it’s good to know their culinary scene is impressive. Adding it to the list!

  3. Parma looks beautiful!! I love how the architecture of old Italian places are almost straight out of a fairy tale. We are foodies too and absolutely love being able to discover authentic recipes and ingredients from the new places we visit. Thank you so much for sharing, Parma ham for the win 🙂

  4. Every time I read a post on Italy, it reminds me that it is my favorite country in the whole world. Small towns Parma are such a delight for their architecture, culture, scenic beauty and food. One picture reminds me of Bologna…love those curved streets.

  5. Being a foodie I would love to visit Parma and have the yummy food, cheese and sweets. Nive to know your family is from there. The restaurant timings do seem annoying but hopefully it’s only during winter .Would love a Lamborghini tour too.

  6. Oh! I love Italy’s cheese. All the food from your pictures look so delicious, I would love to visit again and savour all of that. Brings back old memories. I particularly loved the bird attack photograph. What an awesome click.

  7. How cool that your mom and grandparents were born in Parma and you got to return as an adult after visiting in your childhood! Like you, I’m a big foodie and love to tour cities through their food. Pizza was great in Rome so I can only imagine in a place like Parma. I want to see the Cathedral of Parma for that pink Verona stone! The cobblestone streets are so full of character and charm. I have to get back to Italy to visit Parma!

  8. Parma looks so beautiful and authentic, its nice to go to cities that aren’t as popular as places like Rome and Venice where you can have a bit more peace and space to explore. I’ve been to Italy a few times but never been to Parma, but you had me sold on the food, it’s the best over there so if this is the home of it then I need to go!

  9. Gosh those restaurant opening hours are tough! Other than that Parma sounds great, besides the angry flocks of birds lol.

  10. That’s so amazing that your family is from here! Such a wonderful destination. We visited Gruyere a few years ago and watched the cheese production. I’d love to visit Parma and explore the local markets and try the pizza!

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