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 cities Modena and Bologna, its capital city is easy to discover on foot (or bicycle) and full of fabulous food and fashion shops as well as impressive cultural landmarks. Here are five of the things I love most about it.
Stay Palazzo dalla Rosa Prati
This 13th century, sienna-coloured palazzo completes one side of cobbled Piazza Duomo, housing a mix of hotel rooms, apartments and offices around a leafy courtyard. I love the heavy antique furniture, floral fabrics and café that’s an interesting mix of mod with ancient beams and frescoes peeking through.
Eat (& Drink) Bread
Forget the more touristy trattorias with their, admittedly good, tortellini and eggplant Parmigiana, and join the cool kids at this fun bar showcasing the region’s famous salumi alongside fabulous cocktails and a small, inexpensive menu of panini and local specialties (including cavallo tartare).
The height, symmetry and sparkling cream and pink Veronese marble of Parma’s rare 12th century baptistery is impressive when viewed from the piazza, but step inside and the frescoed cupola will stop you in your tracks. Correggio’s work on the cupola of the neighbouring cathedral is pretty breathtaking too!
Culture Farnesi 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.
Out of Town Podere Pradarolo
Just 40km from Piazza Duomo are the beautiful hills of 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 home. Their wines are imported into Australia by Godot Wines.
For a very engaging and knowledgeable tour guide, contact Valeria Taiani at Explora Emilia.