What to Do in Parma | City Breaks Italy | Parma City Guide & Attractions


Even in the Bronze Age, Parma was a sizeable settlement and the site of the first necropolises, now beneath the present day Piazza Duomo and Millstone Square. The Latin word Parma means circular shield: it's no surprise that this city was both circular and occupied by both the Etruscans and the Romans, who renamed it Julia. It was subsequently sacked by Attila and later destroyed by Totila. Part of the Byzantine empire, the name changed again to Chrysopolis, meaning Golden City, and from 569AD it became part of the Lombard Kingdom of Italy. During the Middle Ages, Parma became an important devotional stage of the Via Francigena, which connected Rome to Northern Europe: several castles, hospitals and inns were built to host the numerous travelling pilgrims. Towers and castles were built during times of warring feudalism for centuries and at times it was controlled by Milan, France, and the Papal States. Under the actions of Guillame du Tillot in the 1790s, infused with the liberal ideals of the enlightenment, Parma enjoyed a time of splendour when the Palatine Library, Archaeological Museum, Picture Gallery and Botanical Garden were founded, together with the Royal Printing Works. After the Napoleonic Wars, Parma eventually became part of the Kingdom of Italy. In the 20th century it was the site of the struggle against Fascism and then of partisan resistance during World War II. It was liberated from German occupation in 1945 by the local resistance and troops from Brazil.

Culture - what to do in Parma
Parma is a small city but offers plenty to see and do with museums, historical attractions, various cinemas, concerts and nightspots. Parma is also of course, the capital of good food and is full of many outstanding restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets, many of which are located around the central Piazza Garibaldi. This is the home of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma (prosciutto) ham and several stuffed pasta dishes such as Tortelli d'erbetta and Anolini in broth.

Must-see attractions
There are numerous fascinating things to see on your Italian city breaks in Parma. Don't miss the hexagonal Baptistry of Parma; Palazzo della Pilotta, which houses the Academy of Fine Arts, the Palatine Library, the National Gallery, Archaeological Museum, Bodoni Museum and the Farnese Theatre; the Mannerist façade of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista; the Ducal Palace; Palazzo del Comune; and Teatro Farnese.

The capital of the Parma province, the city is located on the Parma River in north-central Italy, about 464km northwest of Rome and 223km southeast of Milan

Parma boasts many well preserved remains from its Etruscan and Roman past. There's an array of architectural sights worth seeing. The city's 11th century Duomo cathedral and neighbouring Battistero tower are very impressive, built in pink Verona marble. Its many beautiful landmarks include Piazzale della Pilotta and the Piazza del Duomo, where the Palazzo del Vescovado is hard to miss. Other prominent landmarks dotted around Parma include the Casa di Toscanini and the Palazzo Ducale with its distinctive yellow façade at the very entrance of the spacious Parc Ducale.

It's easy to travel around Parma with a local bus network and taxis. Parma is on the main Milan-Bologna railway, providing easy access to the rest of Italy.

Useful external links

Key facts
  • The capital of good food, famous for ham and cheese
  • Voted the Italian city with the best standard of living
  • Full of Italian treasures and prized works of art
Tourist attractions
  • Galleria Nazionale
  • University of Parma Natural History Museum
  • Romanesque Duomo
  • Teatro Regio
  • Puppet Castle
  • Amedeo Bocchi Museum
  • The Castle of Torrecchiara
  • Summer - hot with an average temperature of 27°C
  • Winter - dry and cold with an average temperature of 6°C