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Parma Travel Guide

What to See and Do in Parma

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parma picture, arches

Arches leading into Parma

© James Martin, Europe Travel

Why Visit Parma:

Parma, in northern Italy, is famous for its art, architecture, cheese and ham, but few tourists travel to Parma to appreciate its considerable charms. Parma is an elegant city with a compact historic zone. Parma's 12th century Baptistery is one of Italy's most interesting buildings.

Parma Location:

Parma is in the Emilia Romagna Region of northern Italy between the Po River and the Appennine Mountains. Parma is south of Milan and north of Florence. Emilia Romagna Region Map

Parma Transportation:

Parma is on the train line from Milan to Ancona, on Italy's east coast. By car, Parma is reached from the A1 Autostrada. Parma also has a small airport.

Parts of Parma, including the historic center, have traffic restrictions but there are pay parking lots nearby. There are also free parking lots outside the city, connected to Parma by a shuttle bus. Parma is served by a good network of public buses, both in the city and to outlying areas.

Parma Tourist Office:

Parma's tourist office is at Via Melloni, 1/a, off Strada Garibaldi near Piazza della Pace.

Parma Hotels

You can read guest reviews and book hotels directly for these Parma Hotels on Venere, a hotel booking site I often use myself.

Food Specialities in Parma:

Wonderful ingredients come from the Parma region, including Parma ham called Prosciutto di Parma and the famous Parma cheese called Parmigiano Reggiano. Parma has excellent pasta dishes and is home to the Barilla pasta factory. Parma has very good food markets and many excellent restaurants. Parma's center has several wine bars, too. Parma holds a large food fair in early May.

Parma Art Itinerary and Pass:

The Parma art and history pass includes admission to the Baptistery, Diocesan Museum, Stuard Gallery, Cathedral, Ducal Palace, Ducal Park and Eucherio Sanvitale Palace. The pass is on sale at the Diocesan Museum or the Stuard Gallery. The itinerary starts from the Baptistery and ends at the Ducal palace in the park.

Public Toilets in Parma:

There are public restrooms near the Ducal Park, on the east side of the river near G. Verdi and Mezzo Bridges, and by San Paolo Garden.

Near Parma - Castles, Villas and Mountains:

Between the Po River and the Appennino mountain range south of Parma lie a series of wonderfully preserved castles from the 14th and 15th centuries, well worth exploring if you're traveling by car. Read about the Castles of Parma from Europe for Visitors. There are also some villas open to the public. The Appennine Mountains near Parma provide lots of opportunity for hiking, outdoor activities, and beautiful landscapes.

Parma Attractions - What to See in Parma:

  • Parma's Cathedral is a great example of Romanesque architecture. The Cathedral was completed in the 12th century and has an octagonal dome unusual for that time period. Lions guard the porch and the bell tower is topped by a gilt copper angel. The inside is heavily decorated with beautiful frescoes. See Duomo Photos on Europe Travel.
  • The Baptistery, dating from the 12th century, is built of pink marble in an octagonal shape. Constuction began in 1196 and was completed in 1307. The low part is decorated wtih bas-relief sculptures and the doors are all elaborately decorated. Inside are sculptures depicting the months, seasons, and Zodiac signs.
  • The Diocesan Museum displays items from the Middle Ages.
  • The Stuard Gallery, housed in an old Monastery, has art work from the 14th to 20th centuries.
  • You'll see many people in the huge Piazza della Pace, peace square, in front of the Palazzo della Pilotta housing the Farnese Theater.
  • The Palazzo del Govenatore, Governor's Palace, in Piazza Garibaldi, has a beautiful facade that dates from 1760. The bell tower has a fascinating astronomical clock.
  • The Ducal Park, dating to the 16th century, is a nice place for a stroll and a visit to the Ducal Palace with its outstanding frescoes.
  • Parma has a number of cultural events including theater, music, and opera.

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