Italy is a wonderful country to visit any time of the year and the city of Parma is a particular backpacker’s favorite destination. This is because Parma Italy is world-renowned for its selection of insatiable Prosciutto (ham) and cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano).
Furthermore, it’s filled with historic buildings such as cathedrals and museums just waiting to be explored. The beautiful city of Parma has something for everyone. Here are the top things to see and do in the city of Parma Italy.
The Parma Cathedral is a visually stunning church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the most beautiful and well-preserved example of a Romanesque church in the whole of Italy. This wonderful building also stands proudly in the heart of Parma; the Piazza del Duomo and is of great importance to the locals.
Here, you will notice the remarkable intricacies of the stonework. Its ornate arches and the bell tower itself is quite extraordinary. Inside, backpackers will also be treated to some fascinating decorations including the main fresco painted by the Italian Late Renaissance artist Antonio da Correggio. His work depicts the Assumption of the Virgin.
Additionally, the fresco is considered one of the finest examples of Renaissance Art available in the world. Entry to the Parma Cathedral is free of charge for all people and it is open daily from 10 am – 6 pm.
Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi
The most notable square in the city of Parma is the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi just south of the Parma Cathedral in the town center. The reason for this square’s popularity is the number of historic buildings here. This includes the Palazzo del Governatore, the Comune Di Parma and the Church of Saint Paul the Apostle.
You may also notice the bronze statue here of Giuseppe Garibaldi who was integral to the unification of Italy. The Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi is a fantastic place to wander around. It also includes an amazing number of delightful cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Welcome to the huge and luscious green space in Parma Italy, Parco Ducale. This impressive park covers a total of 200 square meters; the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Parma.
Also, it’s a great place for a walk or a picnic with friends. It contains a plethora of beautiful trees and plant life. Locals know the park simply as ‘The Garden’, and you will alsways find locals here relaxing and taking a break. Watch out for the stunning Fontana del Trianon which is surrounded by a body of water.
The Parma Baptistery can be found next to the Cathedral and is equally as impressive. In fact, it actually towers over the cathedral standing a mighty height above. This is the main baptistery in Parma Italy. It contains some of the best artwork the city has to offer.
Also inside, the decorations are simply sublime with a number of frescos and statues for you to view in awe. The frescos here date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Here, you can find each one on the sides of the octagonal room inside the baptistery. Also if you look up, you will notice remarkable paintings on the ceiling. These paintings depict the story of a number of famous historical figures.
Teatro Farnese is one of the best-preserved wooden theatres in Italy. So, for that reason, it’s protected by the Italian Cultural Heritage. The theatre is very impressive; created in the 1600s when it would have been the largest theatre in the world. It can hold around 4,000 people.
However, during WW2, the theatre was badly damaged. But through hard work and renovations, it has been restored to its historical magnificence. Also, notice the amazing details in woodwork around the theatre. This in its time was a masterpiece.
Additionally, around the perimeter, you may also notice wooden arches where some of Italy’s most wealthy and famous people once sat to enjoy the performances. You will find the Teatro Farnese in the Palazzo del Pilotta.
Tickets will cost you €5 ($5.51). Also. it is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 8.30 am to 7.00 pm; Sunday, from 8.30 am to 2.00 pm.
Eat Parma Ham And Cheese
Parma Italy takes it’s ham and cheese very seriously. In Parma, there are names Prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano; both protected by a seal of authenticity. When shopping for ham in Parma, you’ll notice that the legs of ham and wheels of cheese are both marked with a stamp that simply says ‘Parma’. Both products are legendary in Italy and the world.
When it comes to the ham, people in Parma like to tell you that there are only four ingredients; Italian pigs, salt, air and time. The Consortium for the ham also has strict rules on how it is made. This then gives this product it’s authenticity. Both Prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano have been made in Italy since the Romans and it’s important that visitors respect this.
Additionally, you will find both products throughout the city, prices vary but always make sure you look for the stamp ‘Parma’ before buying. A perfect Parma experience is to enjoy both with a glass of Italian wine.
Church Of St. John The Evangelist
This stunning Church of St. John the Evangelist was built in the 1500s during the renaissance behind the Parma Cathedral. The bell tower stands at an impressive height of 73m and the facade is very Romanesque. Interestingly, it is built using the same material as the Parma Cathedral.
Inside, you will indeed find stunning artwork from the Renaissance artist Antonio da Correggio as well as fascinating pieces of religious art. Any backpackers looking to learn more about this church should head to the monastery next door. Here is where you can get a better insight into the history of the building.
Entry to the Church of St. John the Evangelist is free and is only open to the public from 8.30 am – 11.45 am. So make sure you wake up early.
Day Trip To Torrechiara
When visiting Parma, don’t miss the chance to go on a day trip to the wonderful Torrechiara. This is a quiet quintessential Italian village just outside of Parma with lots to offer backpackers who make the journey. Just 35 minutes away, it doesn’t cost much to get to Torrechiara. Also, the journey through the Italian countryside is simply epic.
Once you arrive, you will be treated to the main attraction of the town, Castello di Torrechiara. This castle was constructed in the 1400s and looms powerfully over the small village below. Visitors are able to go inside the castle and to the top for some magnificent panoramic views across the area. Inside you will also find beautiful decor in several different rooms. This includes the world-famous Golden Chamber or as it’s known to locals, the Camera d’Oro.
There are two ways for backpackers to travel to Torrechiara: bus or taxi. The bus is 2670, it takes 30 minutes and costs around €1-3 ($1.10-3.30). However, a taxi will take 20 minutes and cost you around €30-40 ($33-44).
Orto Botanico di Parma
The luscious botanical gardens of Parma are well maintained by the University of Parma and is a must-visit for backpackers visiting Parma. You will find the botanical gardens on the Viale Martiri della Liberta in the center of the city.
Here, there are many beautiful species of trees and plants to be discovered. Unique plant species include the trees Ginkgo and Magnolia. Inside these gardens, you will also be treated to a number of greenhouses. These gardens contain an eclectic selection of plant species. It’s certainly the perfect place to get away from the city and relax!
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Parma
What’s visiting a city without visiting its main museum? We’re introducing the extraordinary Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Parma. This building is home to some of the most stunning Italian art, sculptures and artifacts in the world. However, the most notable is the enormous head of the Greek God, Zeus.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Parma was founded in 1970 and has displayed some of the world’s best artifacts. However, it’s not all Italian either. Here, you will find many artifacts from ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt inside these museum walls.
There is a plethora of information available to backpackers who visit and are keen to learn more about the contents of the museum and history itself.
Entry to the museum is just €2 ($2.20). It is open Tuesday to Friday 9 am-5 pm and Saturday 9 am-3 pm. It is also open on Sundays and holidays from 12.30 pm-7.30 pm. It’s a must-visit for anyone visiting Parma Italy.