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The Top 10 Things To See And Do In Parma

Picture of Olga Lenczewska
Olga Lenczewska
Updated: 9 February 2017
Parma is an Italian town located in the region of Emilia-Romagna, near the city of Bologna. Famous for its delicious contributions to the Italian cuisine, such as the prosciutto ham or the parmesan cheese, the town has existed since the ancient Roman times. Here’s our guide to 10 of the best things to do in Parma.

Visit Galleria Nazionale

The National Gallery of Parma focuses on artwork from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries: you will find some works by Da Vinci, Barbieri, Allegri, van Dyck, and many others. This place was once the Academy of Fine Arts. The paintings and sculptures we see today have been accumulated throughout the centuries by various collectors.

Galleria Nazionale, Piazza della Pace – Via della Pilotta 5, Parma, Italy, +39 0521 233617

Take a food and wine tour of Parma

Everyone knows that Italy is the queen of food and wine. If you want to explore the country’s culinary tradition, it is worth taking one of the many food and wine tours. The best ingredients of the Italian cuisine come from Parma. They can show you in detail how to make parmesan cheese or parma ham. Other tours focus on wine production or the process involved in aceto balsamico.

Visit Museo Glauco Lombardi

This thematic museum used to be the home of the Empress Marie-Louise and tells the story of Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Marie-Louise of Hamburg, through pictures, documents, and letters. The museum has developed in the first half of the 20th century, accumulating various objects related to Napoleon. Zooming in a very particular element of the private history of a public person, it shows us the life of the Emperor very differently to what we can find in textbooks, rendering European history more accessible.

Museo Glauco Lombardi, Palazzo di Riserva – Strada Garibaldi 15, Parma, Italy, +39 0521 233727

Spend an evening at Enoteca Fontana

Enoteca Fontana is one of the best wine-tasting places in Parma. It gets extremely busy in the evenings, probably due to both the quality of the wine and the budget prices: you can get a glass of wine under 2 euros. If you find yourself in Enoteca Fontana, it is worth sampling Lambrusco, the famous wine of the Emilia-Romagna region – fruity, fresh, sweet and slightly sparkling.

Enoteca Fontana, Farini 24a, Parma, Italy, +39 521 286037

Walk around Cattedrale di Parma

The Romanesque Cathedral of Parma was decorated by prominent fresco painter Antonio da Correggio. It was built throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. The dome presents Correggio’s ‘Assumption of the Virgin’; it is also worth taking a look at the capitals which present various war and nature scenes from the Bible. Together with the Baptistery of Parma, the Cathedral often hosts artistic exhibitions and educational workshops.

Cattedrale di Parma, Piazza Duomo 7, Parma, Italy, +39 0521 235886

Visit Battistero di Parma

Built between late 12th century and 14th century, Parma’s octagonal Baptistery is one of the finest medieval buildings in the whole of Italy. It is located just next to the Cathedral, on Piazza del Duomo. Its architectural style is both Romaneqsue and Gothic, and it is covered in pink marble from Verona. Its eclectic look can be explained by the long building period, which resulted from the dispute between the authorities of Verona and Parma, as a result of which Verona would not send their marble needed for the construction. Inside the Baptistery you can see 16 arches, all covered with amazing frescoes and paintings, as well as the beautiful dome ceiling.

Go to an opera at Teatro Regio

Teatro Regio is one of the most renowned and high-quality opera houses in Italy, the home of opera. It has been associated with many great composers, such as Giuseppe Verdi and Gioachino Rossini. This venue continues to serve the great Italian musical tradition, staging four operas every season and hosting a yearly Verdi Festival in October.

Teatro Regio, Garibaldi 16/a, Parma, Italy, +39 0521 203993

Spend time at Piazza Garibaldi

Situated where there was once an ancient Roman Forum, Piazza Garibaldi is Parma’s most vibrant public and administrative space. On the north side of this square you will find Palazzo del Governatore, the municipal offices, with a unique astronomical clock. It is also worth walking into the Basilica di Santa Maria della Seccata to admire the work of Parmigianino. As famous Italian squares go, Piazza Garibaldi is great for a morning coffee, midday lunch, or an evening drink.

Piazza Garibaldi, Parma, Italy

Relax at Parco Ducale

If you enjoy nature and want to take a break from cheese-tasting and sightseeing, go and relax at Parco Ducale, the park and garden of Palazzo Ducale. This park dates back to the 16th century and stretches along the west bank of the Parma River.

Parco Ducale, Via Kennedy 10, Parma, Italy, +39 0521 218889

Visit Casa del Suono

This unique place was once a church (Chiesa di Santa Elisabetta), but nowadays is funky modern museum, Casa del Suono. It focuses on technology and music history and is full of old tape recorders, gramophones, and other valuable items related to the 20th-century music scene.

Casa del Suono, Piazzale Salvo D’Acquisto, Parma, Italy, +39 521 031 103