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Parma

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Parma is in Emilia-Romagna.

Get in

From the train station it is an easy walk into the historic city center. The train ride from Bologna to Parma is about one hour and there is a shuttle service from the Bologna airport to the Bologna train station. Milan is also less than two hours north of Parma along the A1 autostrada.

Get around

Virtually everything in the historic city center is within easy and leisurely walking distance. Sites across the river require a little more walking but still not too much. The terrain is flat and biking is very popular among the locals. Taxis are easily available at the train station. There are rental cars at the small airport just outside town. Parking can be a challenge downtown. There is an extensive local bus line.

See

The Wikipedia article on Parma gives a good list of the main sights: [[1]].

The Museo Glauco Lombardi [2] is a particularly interesting and well done museum documenting the life of Maria Luigia, second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duchess of Parma. The museum is very personal and engaging with many artifacts and belongings of the gifted, talented and well educated Maria. Well worth the visit.

The Piazza Duomo is where you'll find the city's cathedral and the baptistry, both built in the late 12th century. The baptistry was designed by Benedetto Antelami and is constructed from a pink marble called rosso di Verona. The marble appears to change color depending on how the sun hits it. It is one of the most recognized medieval structures in the country. The frescoes inside the building are very moving, as well as the relief sculptures on the interior stone.

Do

Attend the opera at the gorgeous and world famous Teatro Regio [3] known for its passionate and critical local opera aficionados. Buy tickets early as the opera is extremely popular in Parma and tickets sell out early. The Festival Verdi celebrates the famous and adored Parma resident Giuseppe Verdi throughout the month of October every year. 86.46.32.92 15:06, 8 July 2010 (EDT)

Buy

Parma Point, Strada Garibaldi 18 Parma, [4] is a great little shop for souvenirs, postcards and other Parma related memorabilia as well as a nice collection of books of local interest.

Eat

At the ice cream shop called K2 behind the cathedral on the right. The nuns make a gelato in the shape of a flower in seconds.

A typical restaurant to have dinner is the Trattoria I Corrieri in Via Conservatorio 1, which is situated near the law faculty of the university. Try some torta fritta, and prosciutto di Parma and all the other salami and coppa specialities from that region as a starter, followed by the typical tortelli. If you take Tris di Tortelli, you will enjoy that special type of pasta, one filled zucca (pumpkin), raddichio (red lettuce) and ricotta e spinaci (spinage& cheese).

Osteria del Gesso [5], Via Ferdinando Maestri, 11 - 43100 Parma, tel: +39 0521 230505, [6]. Osteria del Gesso is a small, quaint restaurant down a narrow street in historic center city. The menu is based on the typical cuisine of the region. The food is well prepared and delicious, particularly the tortelli di erbetta and crespelle di grano. The staff did not speak English, but are helpful and provide excellent service.

La Forchetta borgo San Biagio 6, Parma 43100, tel: +39 0521 208812. Excellent ristorante just off the Piazza del Duomo serving typical regional cuisine. Superb tortelli di zucca and a very interesting and creative appetizer of gelato of Parmesan cheese with a fig preserve and balsamic vinegar.

Trattoria delTribunale [7], Vicolo Politi, 5 - 43100 Parma - Tel. 0521.285527 - Fax 0521.238991 [8]. Excellent traditional restaurant in the city center recommended by the Slow Food editors. The guanciale (pork cheek) diavolo was tender, sweet and succulent with just the right amount of spiciness. The local specialty, anolini in brodo was also excellent.

Hotel & Ristorante Leon D'oro [9], V.le Fraiit 4a, Parma, 43100 tel. 0521.773182. Hotel and Ristorante Leon D'oro is a family owned restaurant that has been around since 1917. They serve traditional food near the train station and are more of a local place as opposed to a tourist location. They are known for their salumi and handmade pastas, as well as their extensive wine list.

Other Foods

If you are in Parma, your trip is not complete until you try a hunk of its eponymous cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano. Known the world over, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese owes its quality to its source. The cows that produce the milk graze only on grass and hay in fields around the city. The cheese is made and aged from 18 months to over 30.

Another food you must try in Parma is the local cured ham, Prosciutto di Parma. Parma's Prosciutto is the gold standard for salumi. The hams are cured and aged in temperature and humidity controlled rooms for at least 10 months. The result is a salty, sweet, piece of meat that is sliced razor thin and can be eaten all by its self, or as a part of many regional dishes. As far as salumi goes though, Culatello is king. Unfortunately government regulation on the production of Culatello has driven it nearly to extinction, but there are still rogue producers who cure the meat in cellars. Culatello differs from Prosciutto in that it is made from the fillet cut of the ham as opposed to the whole ham. If you can get your hands on some genuine Culatello, do it, because it is next to impossible to find in the U.S. and can go for around $60.00 a pound.

Parma is also known for its delicate stuffed pastas and outdoor markets. Be sure to take advantage of the fresh seasonal vegetables that Parma has to offer.

Drink

An aperitivo in Via Farini is something you should not miss. There are several bars in that little street where you will find a lot of people standing outside with a Martini or a Sprizz con Aperol at around 6pm, enjoying the free buffet that is offered, when you buy a drink.

Try a bottle of the local sparkling red wine called Lambrusco; great on its own and perfect with much of the local cuisine. It can be purchased in virtually any bar or corner shop and is very inexpensive.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

  • Villa Franci, Via Segalara, No. 2 43038 Talignano di Sala Baganza, tel +39 335 6830676, paolo@villafranci.it, [10]. From €32 per person. This is a beautifully decorated and architected bed and breakfast. It is about 20 minutes away from downtown Parma in the countryside bordering a national park. The ancient road between Rome and Canterbury, Via Francigena, runs right outside the villa. An excellent place to stay if you have your own transportation. The owner is an outgoing, friendly Parma local with extensive knowledge of the entire region. This would be a great place from which to visit the North of Italy. Parma is in the middle, and in between 1 to 2 hours it is possible to reach Venice, Florence, Milan, Turin, Verona, Bologna, Portofino, Forte dei Marmi, San Marino, or Rimini.

Splurge

  • Astoria Executive Hotel, Via Trento, tel +39.0521.272717, fax +39 0521.272724, info@piuhotels.com, [11]. This three star hotel is in a central position of the city, just a few meters from the train station and historic center of Parma. Each of the hotel's 88 rooms is soundproofed. Also offers events organization, dining in the characteristic San Barnaba restaurant or surfing the web from Internet points in the hotel reception.
  • Dimore d' epoca, Via Valenti, 5/c 43100 tel +39.0521.774039, fax +39 0521.780756, info@dimoredepoca.it, [12]. Just a short walk from the center of Parma, situated in a large park, this villa belonging to a noble family of Parma has been open to guests since 1987. Hotel, quality restaurant and modern convention halls.
  • Hotel Torino, [13] Borgo A.Mazza,7 43100 tel. +39.0521.281046, fax +39.0521.230725, info@hotel-torino.it. In the heart of the city, instead of an ancient monastery bombed during the II World War, in the 60's has been partially rebuilt and used as a hotel. Today, it continues its tradition of hospitality and refined after a thorough restructuring aimed to revive the feeling of staying in nice home's atmosphere. The sweet welcome of this residence bring you to the history of the city itself, passing from the Regio Theatre, near the Baptistery, the Cathedral, the Old Pharmacy of St. John and His Church until the oldest University in Italy.
  • Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati, [14] 7 Strada al Duomo - 43100 Parma, Telephone (+39) 0521 386429, Fax: (+39) 0521 502204, [15]. The Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati is a palace in the center of the historic city center with a number of elegantly appointed suites. The Palazzo is on the quiet and historic Piazza del Duomo mere feet from the famous Baptistry and easy walking distance from all of the main historic and cultural sites. It is located in a pedestrian zone but the owner or his assistant will make parking arrangements for you. The rooms are clean, elegant, spacious and and comfortable with all modern amenities. The owner, Vittorio, and his assistant, Mattia, are gracious and helpful hosts. They speak English. In the evenings there is often an accordion player outside on the piazza playing great old classics. Staying at the Palazzo is a wonderful way to immerse yourself into the life and culture of historic Parma.

Get out

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