Before I visited Parma, Italy,
the only thing I knew about it was the ham my family and I ate on sandwiches. Famous for its ham, cheese and incredible cuisine
, Parma is also known for its centuries-old churches, palaces and theaters and its 3,500 year history. Tourists flock to Parma to eat some of Italy’s best food, listen to world-class opera and, of course, to see Parma F. C. football matches. When my family and I were there, we did all of that and so much more.
Visit the Baptistery of Parma – If you enjoy beautiful and unique architecture, a visit to Parma isn’t complete without seeing the Baptistery of Parma – still considered one of the most important Medieval buildings in Europe.The Baptistery of Parma is a pink marble, octagonal-shaped building over 800 years old. Famous for its architecture, as well as its incredible frescoes and mythical animal statues, the Baptistery is home to paintings and sculptures by famous Italian artist, Benedetto Antelami, who was instrumental in designing the building. There’s a small entrance fee but it’s well worth the price.
The National Gallery – For art lovers, or those who appreciate history, the National Gallery should not be missed. It’s located on the second floor of the Pilotta Palace and is full of artwork from the 13th to the 19th centuries. The Pilotta Palace is quite stunning too.
Bardi Castle – There are several Medieval castles to visit in Parma, but Bardi Castle is one of the best. Its gorgeous location on top of a hill, looking out over a fairytale valley makes you realize what these amazing buildings were actually used for – protection and security. At Bardi Castle, which is still in superb condition, you can tour the castle and learn about how people actually lived, see the rooms they ate in, danced in, worked in. There’s also a lovely garden and don’t miss the small museum.
Drink Wine at a Parma Wine Bar – Famous for its food and drink, you have to spend time at a Parma Wine Bar. Not only do you get to enjoy a superb local wine, but the farm-style food many of the bars offer is inexpensive yet very tasty. We spent several nights sitting at one or more wine bars, as they’re a superb place to people watch, soak up the atmosphere and see what life in an Italian town is all about. You’ll find the best wine bars around Via Farini and Via Gramsci.
Visit Parma’s Beautiful Countryside – Parma is known throughout Europe for its lovely countryside, so don’t miss venturing out into it when you’re there. We hired horses one day at a local stable and took a short pony trek through the area, stopping off for lunch at a local cafe, drinking wine and eating farm-made sandwiches. Unbelievable. You can also hike, cycle, mountain bike or just take a leisurely stroll. It’s all accessible within a few minutes of Parma city limits. Your hotel reception can tell you the best places to see.
Baptistery of Parma
The National Gallery website
Bardi Castle – the site is in Italian, but the video shows just how beautiful Bardi Castle and the surrounding area is