The province of Parma in Emilia-Romagna is famous for some of my favourite foods, including Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano and eggplant Parmigiana.
Smaller than neighbouring Modena and Bologna, Parma is easy to discover on foot (or bicycle) and full of fabulous food and fashion shops as well as impressive cultural landmarks. It’s the first stop on my Italian food and wine tour of Emilia-Romagna and a fabulous introduction to Italy’s food valley. Here are five of the things I love most about Emilia-Romagna’s capital city and enjoy sharing with guests on my gourmet tours of northern Italy.
Stay in Parma Palazzo dalla Rosa Prati
This 13th-century, sienna-coloured palazzo on cobbled Piazza Duomo is home to the Dalla Rosa Prati Marquises, whose private residence is on the first floor. It’s where we always stay on my Parma food tours. Right outside the door is the sparkling cream and pink Veronese marble of the rare 12th-century baptistery with its stunning frescoed cupola.
Eat in Parma Trattoria Rigoletto
I was drawn to this tiny trattoria down a cobbled alley by the quirky photos on the walls (a COVID project to keep the owners sane). Fabrizio is the most welcoming host and his wife Antonella is a wonderful cook and photographer. Simple, classic, delicious food, prepared and served with warmth and passion. It’s small, so book ahead or join my Parma food tour.
Drink in Parma Tabarro
This little gem of a wine bar was recommended to me by one of the staff at Palazzo dalla Rosa Prati – and I’m so glad I listened! Sit on a stool around one of the barrels outside, tell host Alessandro Marzocchi what you like and let him choose for you from his awesome range of natural and boutique wines. My kind of bar!
Parma History & Culture Farnese Theatre
Built entirely from wood, Parma’s spectacular 17th century baroque theatre was the prototype for modern playhouse theatres. Largely destroyed by Allied bombing in WWII, and faithfully restored from original plans, its U-shaped rows of bench seating topped with ornate arches is an impressive site.
Day Trip from Parma Podere Pradarolo
Just 40km from Piazza Duomo are the beautiful hills of the Ceno Valley and this vineyard producing wine as naturally as possible (including Vej, an intriguing sparkling orange wine). Owners Alberto and Claudia love showing visitors their vineyard and cellar (by appointment) and also offer B&B in their charming 17th century villa. The winery tour, cellar tasting and lunch here is a highlight of my Parma food and wine tours.
Also Bread, a wonderful bar/trattoria near Piazza Garibaldi with awesome pizze, cool cocktails and a small, well-priced menu of panini and local specialties (including cavallo tartare). My Parma food tour guests and I always enjoy morning caffè and pastries at Antica Pasticceria Pagani 1856 where fifth-generation pasticciere Gualtiero Pagani makes the best cannoncino!
Updated 13 Dec 2023