Parma is the second biggest city in Emilia-Romagna after Bologna. Like the regional capital, it’s a big university town with students making up a sizable proportion of the populace.
I first came to Parma in 2005, but as it was in my pre-blogging days, I have very little recollection of my visit, so I was really excited to discover it all over again.
My map here.
The centre of town is Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi where you’ll find the Palazzo del Governatore (Governor’s Palace). The building has thirteenth-century origins but has undergone numerous renovations in it’s history. In 1760 it was modified to its current appearance by Ennemond Alexandre Petitot, a French architect from the Bourbon court who is responsible for much of the urban planning of the city.
The Baroque tower dates back to 1763 while the two sundials are later, dating back to 1829. The building is now a centre for modern and contemporary art.
On the opposite side of the square to the left is the Palazzo del Comune, the Council Chamber, built in 1627. The ground level once hosted the grain market, hence the high poritcos to let the waggons in.
Next door is the Palazzo del Podestà (built between 1221 and 1240) originally the seat of the municipality, now another wing of the town hall. The Tourist Information office is located here (and its website is here).
The statue in the first photograph, the Monument to Hercules and Antaeus (created between 1684 and 1687 by Flemish artist Teodoro Vanderstruck) is behind the Palazzo del Comune.
Other important buildings include the Cattedrale di Parma and the Battistero dell’Antelami (my post here), the Palazzo della Pilotta art gallery (my post here), and there are a few examples of Stile Liberty (Italian Art Nouveau) dotted around (my post here).
The city is divided in two by the River Parma. The centre (about which most of my posts are written) is on the east bank.
The district on the other side of the river is known as Oltretorrente.
The Parco Ducale in Oltretorrente is a nice spot for a stroll.
And to the south of the centre there is the Parco della Cittadella, another pleasant place for stretching your legs.
Parmigiano Reggiano video here.
In early November 2020 I stayed for three nights at the Hotel Torino, a very well-located hotel with small but adequate rooms at a reasonable price. It came up as the top option in my research and was also recommended by Melanie Schoonhoven, a local tour guide and friend of a good friend who was very helpful and had lots of great tips for things I should do.
Lets start with the sightseeing…