Parma

Parma street
Parma street – Photo © Enrico Massetti

Parma is known for art, music, gastronomy and life’s quality. It has 175.000 inhabitants and a large historical down-town that’s expanded around “Piazza Grande”, now named Garibaldi square.

Parma appears before the tourist like an elegant, hospitable and unreserved city.

To see in Parma…
The Cathedral: dedicated to the Virgin Mary, can be considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy.

It was erected by the heretic bishop Cadalus, who later became antipope Honorius II.

Destroyed by an earthquake in 1117, it was rebuilt and completed in the 12th century.

Parma Battistero
Parma Battistero – Photo © Enrico Massetti

The tall bell tower, topped by a gilt copper angel, was added in the following century and the side chapels during the 14th and 15th century.

The great void of the dome was frescoed by Correggio in 1526 with the Assumption of the Virgin.

Pilotta Palace: this vast but unfinished complex was built in the second half of the 17th century at the order of Ranuccio I around the Visconti stronghold and alongside the existing church of San Pietro martire.

It hosts some of the most important insitutions of the city: Palatina Library, Archaeological Museum, National Gallery, Farnese Theatre, University of Parma, Art institute, offices of the national Art and cultural Heritage.

Parma Duomo Organ
Parma Duomo Organ – Photo © Enrico Massetti

Ducal Park: the elaborated green architecture of the old trees in the Ducal Park was designed and in 1560 and extended in the 18th century. Decorated with sculptures by J.B. Boudard, it was subsequently adapted to the French style. The Park plays host to the Ducal Palace and the Palazzetto Eucherio Sanvitale, built in Renaissance style in 1520 by Giorgio Da Erba.

The House of Music: in the recently restored Renaissance building known as Palace Cusani, the House of Music is today an international reference point for music research and documentation.

Castle of Puppets: the museum Giordano Ferrari or Castle of puppets is the most important collection in Italy dedicated to the animation theatre.

Stuard Gallery: this art gallery houses is the most important private collection in the city, more than 270 paintings from the 14th to the 19th century.

Regio Theatre: commissioned by Maria Luigia and designed by Nicola Bettoli, the Regio theatre was built between 1821 and 1829 on the site of the Benedectine convent of Saint Alessandro. The Regio theatre was officially opened on the 16th of May 1829 with the opera Zaira, written especially by Vincenzo Bellini. It is still one of the most renowned Opera Houses in the world.

Visit Parma in half day.

We shall start our visit from the square occupied by the Cathedral and the Baptistery, one of the most outstanding groups of Romanesque buildings in the country. The Baptistery, a marvelous octagonal structure (1196-1260),reveals a stylistic severity and a richness of invention that places it foremost among buildings of its kind in Italy.

Teatro Regio - Photo © franfiorini
Teatro Regio – Photo © franfiorini

The architecture and the sculpture are the work of the one artist, the great Benedetto Antelami (1177-1233).

The frescoes inside constitute the largest group of 13th century painting in Northern Italy. The solemn Cathedral. with its graceful pointed facade and three orders of loggias, and elegant Porch (1281), also contains fine sculpture by Antelami as well as Correggio’s fresco masterpiece: the Assumption, painted round the Dome. Another dome frescoed by Correggio is to be seem in the neighboring church of S. Giovanni Evangelista. Going down Borgo Correggio and Via Petrarca we come to Via della Repubblica: on the corner is the church of S. Antonio Abate, designed by Bibiona (1714).

View from the Pilotta
View from the Pilotta – Photo © Franco Folini

We then take the Via della Repubblica to Piazza del Municipio; here, not far away, we can visit the Museum, which a private citizen, Prof. Lombardi, donated to the city and which contains all sorts of relics and curios of Marie Louise, Napoleon’s second wife.

In the same street is the impressive 16th century church of S. Maria della Stecama, with frescoes by Parmigianino in the vast interior, and the tombs of the Farnesi in the vaults beneath.

Practically across the way, on the same street, is the neo-classical Regio Theatre (1829). Continuing, we come into the vast square containing, on one side, the immense Palazzo delta Pilotta (begun in 1583 as the royal palace of the Farnese, and never completed). Inside this huge building is to be found an outstanding Museum of Antiquities, the wonderful Farnese Theatre (1618) of wood, the only one of its kind, and the National Gallery, one of the most important collections of paintings in Italy with a magnificent group of works by Correggio, and paintings by Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Sebastiano dei Piombo, Parmigianino, Canaletto, Holbein, El Greco, and Van Dyck, the , Palatine Library and the Bodoniano Museum.

Lastly there is the famous Certosa, the Charterhouse of Parma, about 22 mi. from the city center.

ENVIRONS
Busseto
This is the small town where Giuseppe Verdi grew up, even though he was actually born in the small village of Roncole, isolated in the country 5 kms southeast of Busseto. The modest building that saw his birth was once even used as a grocery store, and now attracts a large number of visitors. The nearby church of San Michele has historical links with the Verdi family. The original building dates back to 16th-17th century, but was subsequently rebuilt several times. Inside are still the font where Verdi was baptized and the old organ on which the young Maestro used to practice.

Compiano
Narrow cobbled streets, close-knit buildings and an imposing castle are the main features of Compiano, a typical Appennine village still encircled by a ring of battlemented walls, punctuated by two fortified gates.

Sala Baganza
The history of this little village is closely linked to the fate of its Rocca, a fortress currently being restored, which was erected in 1477 by Gilberto III Sanvitale, and later converted into a gorgeous summer residence by the Farnese family in the 17th century. About 2 Kms west of Sala Baganza is the entrance to the natural reserve Boschi di Carrega, a regional Park including the Casino dei Boschi and the Villa del Ferlaro.

Courtesy of Parma Tourist Office