48 hours in Parma, city of art and history with a joyful dynamism

48 hours in Parma, city of art and history with a joyful dynamism

Strolling through the pastel-hued streets of this city on a human scale displaying a characteristic opulence of northern Italy, one can only be surprised by its dynamism. Every weekend, a compact crowd invades its main arteries, which are full of perfumeries, trendy boutiques, restaurants and gourmet grocery stores stocked with hams and Parmesan cheeses.

To discover

A city of art and history linked to the destinies of the Farnese, the Bourbons and Marie-Louise of Austria, Parma also loves visitors thanks to its exceptional heritage and its rich cultural life: the palazzo della Pilotta is home to a Leonardo da Vinci, splendid frescoes by Correggio decorate a number of churches while the Teatro Regio hosts some of the most prestigious concerts and operas in the country. Our program, for a weekend, to discover the treasures of Parma.



Parma is located in Emilia-Romagna, 128 km southeast of Milan and 100 km northwest of Bologna. By train, it takes about 1h20 from Milano Centrale – a station connected to France by TGV – and 45 minutes from Bologna Centrale. The nearest international airport is Bologna: it offers regular connections to Paris – Charles de Gaule, operated by Air France. However, be aware that flights to French airports are more numerous from Milano-Linate, located only 1h15 drive from Parma.


Consisting of charming streets and colorful alleys, the city center can be discovered mainly on foot, taking the time to stroll. Much of the city center is closed to unauthorized vehicles by means of a ZTL (zona a traffico limitato). However, many car parks make it easy to park on the outskirts of the city center, such as those at Central Repubblica or Fratti Duc. There are many TEP municipal buses and the service is well organized, serving all the districts of the city as well as the localities of the surroundings such as Torrechiara, although located about twenty kilometers from the center (bus n°12, departure from the station or from the quay behind the Palazzo della Pilotta).


Parma Tourist Office: parmawelcome.it

Emilia-Romagna Tourist Office: emiliaromagnaturismo.it

What to do now


Banksy, Building Castles in the Sky

In the exceptional setting of the Tarasconi Palace, this exhibition presents an ambitious retrospective of the work of the most mysterious street artist on the planet. It brings together more than 100 paintings, serigraphs, stencils and drawings, offering a wide panorama of his creations, which span more than 20 years. From Dismaland to Girl with a Balloon via Toxic Mary, we rediscover the transgressive poetics of his work, and we measure how iconic he has become.

Banksy, Building Castles in the Sky, Palazzo Tarasconi, strada Farini, 37, Parma. Until January 16, 2022, Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets on site or by reservation.


This osteria with its rustic decor hides its game well. The chef duo, made up of Simone Devoti and Diego Sales, offer inventive cuisine that explores local flavors while giving them a new lease of life. So Parma ham is accompanied by a flavorful chutney, barley risotto with sliced… frogs and roasted quail with daikon. The wine list is not to be outdone with a nice selection of local wines, supplemented by a few nuggets from elsewhere. The warm and intimate atmosphere makes you want to take your time… A real faultless experience. Card around 40 €.

Cortex Bistro, Borgo del Correggio, 20/B, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 062846.


Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati

Facing the baptistery, this four-star hotel stands out as one of the best options for staying in the heart of Parma. Nestled in an elegant orange palace from the 15th and 18th centuries, this establishment belonging to the noble Dalla Rosa Prati family offers a handful of opulent rooms and comfortable apartments, with a decor that is sometimes classic and sometimes contemporary. Many of the rooms enjoy views of the splendid piazza duomo and the baptistery, while some overlook the pretty courtyard overgrown with Virginia creeper. Small gourmet shop at the entrance. Rooms from €120. Also apartments for 2 to 6 people, from €150.

Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati, Strada al Duomo, 7, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 386429.


48 hours in Parma, city of art and history with joyful dynamism


Before starting the tour of the city, have a cappuccino or a ristretto at the Gran Caffè Cavour, a historic establishment with a refined decor embellished with frescoes. Then reach the harmonious piazza Duomo, which is only a few steps away. This remarkable urban ensemble is made up of three main monuments, which present an irresistible harmony: the duomo, the baptistery and the episcopal palace. The Duomo – whose real name is Cattedrale de Santa Maria Assunta – displays a spectacular facade in the Lombard Romanesque style surmounted by elegant arches, and preceded by a loggia guarded by sculpted lions. But the building is especially famous for its interior decoration, in particular its frescoes populated by angels signed by Corrège, which adorn the dome (1526). In the nave, take the time to detail the cycle of frescoes by Lattanzio Gambara, which is not lacking in scale. Finally, the right transept of the building hides a moving Deposition from the Cross in marble, sculpted by Benedetto Antelami at the end of the 12th century.

Facing the Duomo, the octagonal baptistery in pink Verona marble – built between 1196 and 1216 – is also a real eye-catcher. Its various portals, sculpted with earthy characters, angels and saints, marvelous animals or floral motifs, rival each other in refinement. Inside, we are left speechless by the Byzantine-inspired frescoes; and fascinated by the sculptures and colonnades punctuating the architecture of the whole. Just behind piazza Duomo, you must then reach the church of San Giovanni Evangelista which also hides splendid affreschi by Correggio. This time, it is the Vision of John of Patmos that the artist has chosen to represent, with a Christ appearing in a blinding light.

This “pilgrimage” in the footsteps of Correggio would not be complete without a visit to the San Paolo monastery, known for its mythical room of the Abbess. This small room nestled in the heart of the conventual building hosts a fresco (another one!) of great beauty, representing cherubim and characters from mythology evolving in the middle of an abundant plant decor. Above the fireplace, notice the Diana the Huntress, to which Correggio would have given the features of the Abbess Giovanna da Piacenza, commissioner of the work.

Lunch break

If you want to have a quick lunch, Tra l'Uss e L'Asa is a great option. This very popular establishment includes a gourmet counter, a delicatessen and an enoteca. You can have delicious sandwiches prepared there filled with local products or settle down on the few tables, inside or on the terrace, to taste small dishes or assortments of cold cuts and cheeses. The natural wines on the menu will perfectly accompany your meal. Count from 7 to 9.50 € for the sandwiches; from 10 to 15 € for the boards.


Plan a trip to Torrechiara Castle, a Renaissance marvel located 18 km south of the city (accessible by bus). This fortress, adorned with powerful square towers and perched on the first foothills of the Apennines, was transformed in the middle of the 15th century by order of Pier Maria Rossi, a powerful condottiere. His wish was to welcome his mistress, Bianca Pellegrini, there. To please her, he commissioned a breathtaking cycle of frescoes for the sublime Golden Room, where his beloved is represented according to the codes of courtly love. The rest of the apartments are literally covered with frescoes, but made later, in the Mannerist style with grotesques and trompe-l'oeil.


Return to the city center a hundred meters from the Duomo, in Borgo XX Marzo, an alley as long as it is narrow, where the Bistrò Borgo 20 offers a modern setting and a relaxed atmosphere. This address, which is unanimous in town, offers delicious local cuisine, made with good products from Emilia-Romagna. It also offers very convincing pizzas. As a bonus, the welcome is warm. Traditional menu at €25; gourmet pizzas from €9 to €19; card around €40. Remember to book!


To prolong the evening, head to the Choice counter, a wonderful cocktail bar run by a dynamic young team. Here we offer the best drinks in town, to be enjoyed in an intimate and warm atmosphere. If the menu turns out to be very attractive, don't hesitate to order the cocktail of your dreams from the bartenders… They will know how to satisfy you perfectly. Cocktails around €10.



It's time to visit the Palazzo della Pilotta, the city's major monumental complex, built in Farnese times for a good part of the 16th century. First of all, it contains the magnificent Farnese Theatre, an architectural masterpiece built entirely of wood by Battista Aleotti in 1618. Difficult to use, it only hosted a dozen performances during throughout its history, usually on the occasion of lavish parties.

The palace also houses the Galleria Nazionale, a museum of remarkably rich paintings and works of art. There is a fine collection of Tuscan, Lombard and Emilian primitives, some paintings and fragments of frescoes by Correggio and Parmigianino, a sculpture by Canova, but above all a fascinating grisaille on wood by Leonardo da Vinci, the famous Scapigliata, a young girl disheveled with the face of an angel. Before leaving the palace, take a look at the superb Biblioteca Palatina, founded by the Bourbons: it houses more than 400,000 works! On leaving, cross the Parma River to take a few steps in the pretty Parco Ducale, with paths lined with centuries-old trees. There is a body of water, a pretty monumental fountain and several old palaces linked to the Dukes of Parma, such as the Palazzetto Eucherio Sanvitale.

You then reach Piazza Garibaldi, the true heart of the city. Nicknamed “the parmesan living room”, it is lively at all times of the day and hosts various monuments such as the Palazzo del Podestà, where the town hall is located. The surrounding streets are full of shops selling perfectly tailored clothes and bottles of perfume from Aqua di Parma, the Italian "cologne" created in Parma in 1916. The borgo Giacomo Tommasini is one of the most interesting streets: luxury brands, boutiques young designers and decorating stores compete for his doorsteps.

Lunch break

Nearby, the Officina Alimentare Dedicata is the ideal place to treat yourself to a typical Parmesan meal. The great regional classics are on the menu: exceptional hams and charcuterie, parmesan cheese aged properly, anolini in broth, tortelli with herbs, butter and parmesan cheese… Not to mention good local meats. The wine list also allows you to make lovely discoveries. The restaurant is very successful, remember to book. Card around €30.


If you do not have the opportunity to attend a performance in the splendid Teatro Regio, you can take part in one of the guided tours and thus discover this prestigious place. It hosts operas, ballets and concerts as well as the famous Verdi Festival, which celebrates the birth of the composer, who was born near Parma, every October. Not far away, classical music lovers can also visit the birthplace of Arturo Toscanini, one of the greatest conductors in history, also from Parma.

Then enter the Basilica of Santa Maria della Strecata, to discover the vaults of the choir painted by Parmigianino. Not far away, a visit to the Glauco Lombardi museum will interest fans of Napoleonic history. Indeed, this institution retraces the destiny of Marie-Louise of Austria, second wife of Napoleon Ist. After the fall of the First Empire, the Congress of Vienna granted the Empress the Duchy of Parma, where she reigned until her death in 1847. The museum presents documents, engravings and paintings, as well as dozens of objects, jewelry or dresses that belonged to him.

Finally, how can you come to Parma without succumbing to its culinary specialties? The city and its valley, called Food Valley, produce many emblematic products of Italian gastronomy, protected by IGP. At La Proscuitteria di Silvano Romano you will find different Parma hams and culatello di Zibello, Felino salami, coppa di Parma, as well as parmigiano reggiano aged 18, 24 or 32 months, at really interesting prices.


If this shopping has whetted your appetite, stop by Tabarro, a wine bar offering a plethora of biodynamic bottles. Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna, is one of the stars on the menu, but you can also fall for an original orange wine. Gems impossible to find elsewhere! Same requirement in the composition of the charcuterie and cheese boards, prepared with the best of local products.


Book at Meltemi, a fairly modern establishment with a menu mainly oriented towards the sea. A rarity in Parma! Flawlessly fresh raw fish, surprising antipasti di mare, fresh anolini pasta with white fish, catch of the day just grilled and served with taggiasche olives from Luguria… Count between €50 and 60.

Address book


Gran Caffè Cavour, Strada Cavour, 30/B, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 206223.

Tra l'Uss e l'Asa, borgo S. Biagio, 6/c, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 284699.

Bistrò Borgo 20, borgo XX Marzo, 14, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 234565.

Officina Alimentare Dedicata, via Ferdinando Maestri, 11/A, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 230505.

Meltemi, borgo del Carbone, 3, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 030814.

Ristorante Cocchi, viale Antonio Gramsci, 16/A, 43126 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 981990.


Bar Choice, borgo della Cavallerizza, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 349 788 82 13.

Enoteca Tabarro, strada Luigi Carlo Farini, 5/b, 43100 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 200223.


La Prosciutterria Silvano Romani, strada Farini, 9C. Such. : +39 0521 234188.

Gardoni Salumeria, piazza Leoni, 5/A, Langhirano, 43013 Torrechiara. Such. : +39 0521 355119.

Pop Up Fornasetti, borgo Giacomo Tommasini, 8, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 232886.

Rooms, borgo XX Marzo, 22, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 956095


Duomo di Parma – Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, piazza Duomo, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 235886.

Battistero di Parma, piazza Duomo, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 208699.

Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, piazzale S. Giovanni, 1, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 1651508.

San Paolo Monastery, via M. Melloni, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 218215.

Castello di Torrechiara, borgo del Castello, 1, 43013 Torrechiara. Such. : +39 0521 355255.

Teatro Reggio, strada Giuseppe Garibaldi, 16/a, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 203911.

Palazzo della Pilotta, piazza della Pilotta, 3, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 220400.

Basilica of Santa Maria della Stecatta, strada Giuseppe Garibaldi, 5, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 234937.

Fondazione Museo Glauco Lombardi, strada Giuseppe Garibaldi, 15, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 233727.


Mercure Parma Centro Stendhal

Just a few steps from the Palazzo della Pilotta and not far from the train station, this 4-star hotel in a modern building enjoys a very good location. Its generously sized rooms with a very classic decor are fitted out with antique furniture, such as these gilded Bergere armchairs or these marble pedestal tables. The small bar allows you to take a cocktail break at the end of the afternoon, before going out. Paid secure parking available on request. From €100 per night.

Mercure Parma Centro Stendhal, via Giambattista Bodoni, 3, 43121 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 208057.

Park Hotel Pacchiosi

Located on the edge of the city centre, this 5-star hotel is housed in a former 19th century hospice with generous volumes, like its impressive ceremonial staircase. There are sixty comfortable rooms, decorated in an opulent style. A little retro but without bad surprises. The restaurant serves good Italian cuisine with international accents. From €150 per night.

Park Hotel Pacchioso, strada Quartiere, 4, 43125 Parma. Such. : +39 0521 077077.

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