PARMA PROVINCE | EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION
The Province of Parma is found in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE PROVINCE OF PARMA
Parma, a town of art, music, food and wine Parma is one of the most beautiful Italian towns, and proud of its beauty for that matter. Parma is the capital of great music (the world’s greatest com- poser, Giuseppe Verdi, was born here) and gourmet food and wine (just two names: DOP Parmigiano Reggiano and DOP Prosciutto di Parma, the local star specialities).
The area around Parma is pervaded by an almost supernatural atmosphere. The best way to appreciate the spirit of this land is on foot or bicycling (there's a 50-km-long cycle path running along the river Po), or even cruising on a barge.
Colorno, 10 km from Parma, boasts a splendid palace with a French air about it, which, together with its distinctive corner towers, earned it the name of “Little Versailles”. This former summer residence of the Dukes of Parma is surrounded by a 15th century park that Marie-Louise had redesigned as an English garden.
Fidenza is the place for faith and prayers and was once used by the Romans as a rest-stop along the Via Emilia. Later, it became a popular point on the pilgrim route that connected Rome to the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. The grand Romanesque cathedral contains a carvings depicting all the miracles that had been bestowed upon the local population by several saints. Its facade, decorated by two towers, was worked on by the Parma master, Antelami.
A more romantic atmosphere can be found in the many castles around Parma, some of them extraordinarily charming, like the Castle Circuit of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza: Bardi, Colorno again, Compiano, Torrechiara, Montechiarugolo, Felino, Fontanellato, Roccabianca, Sala Baganza, Soragna, San Secondo. Each one has its own story to tell about lovers, struggles for power, banquets, and balls. The impressive 15th-century castle of Fontanellato, in particular, was built by the powerful Sanvitale dynasty for defensive purposes: it has a moat, battlements, and a mighty-looking tower on each corner. On the ground ﬂoor there is one of Parmigianino's masterpieces, a fresco of the legend of Diana and Actaeon (1523) which in itself is well worth the visit. In Fontanellato, see also the recently restored theatre dating from 1868, a small jewel with two tiers of boxes that seats about 300.
Another gem is the Berzieri building in the spa resort of Salsomaggiore Terme. It is a colossal ArtNouveau palace with profuse decorations of gold, ﬂowers, and Oriental patterns, that take the visitor back to the days when people came from all over Europe to go to the spa and stroll idly along the tree-lined avenues of this green, cheerful town. The local spa water, by the way, is an excellent cure against a wide range of ailments.
Last but not least, two destinations everybody will enjoy: the Parmigiano Reggiano Museum in Soragna (which also has one of the most beautiful castles of the area), and the Parma Ham and Salami Museum (Museo del Prosciutto e dei Salumi di Parma), a few miles from the splendid castle of Torrechiara.