The main town and administrative centre of the province, Parma was founded by the Romans in 183 BC and is renowned for its music, art, university and good food. The town has a long, rich and complex history that profoundly shaped the urban fabric, leaving valuable traces of every historical period and artistic movement. The historical centre, which develops around the ancient Piazza Grande, now named Piazza Garibaldi, and the enchanting Piazza Duomo, can be conveniently explored on foot.
Parma, “Art City” par excellence, is home to numerous museums that recount the city’s ancient history and traditions. Visitors can certainly devote more than one day to this interesting, multi-faceted tour.
The first stop along the route is Piazza Duomo, at least three sides of which offer a historical snapshot of the middle ages, with the Baptistery by Benedetto Antelami, the Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace. Along Vicolo del Vescovado, there are several elements from the medieval period to admire: the tower and the monumental portal in square-cut stone blocks. Inside the Bishop’s Palace is the Diocesan Museum.
A walking route through the historical centre of Parma, exploring the traces left by two major Renaissance artists, Antonio Allegri, known as “Correggio”, and Francesco Mazzola, otherwise known as “Parmigianino”. To discover the works by Correggio, the route proposes a visit to the Church and Cloisters of St. John (Chiesa e Chiostro di San Giovanni) and the beautifully frescoed Chamber of St. Paul (Camera di San Paolo), in the former Convent of the same name. Parmigianino’s career as an artist began in Parma, where he worked under Correggio in the Church of St. John the Evangelist (Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista). His last work was the magnificent cycle of frescoes in the Basilica of Santa Maria della Steccata. The visit to the National Gallery in the Pilotta Palace rounds off this themed route linked to the two foremost artists of the Emilian school of the 15th and 16th century.
This walking route through the historical centre of Parma lets visitors explore the legacy of the “people of Parma’s favourite duchess”, Marie Louise of Austria, Empress and consort of Napoleon who governed during the period of the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla. A woman of great foresight, during her reign she ordered the building of palaces and bridges, improved the road infrastructure and promoted culture and social services, improving living conditions for the general population. The route winds from Piazzale della Pilotta, where the homonymous building houses the Palatine Library, the National Archaeological Museum and the Bodoni Museum, on to the Glauco Lombardi Museum and the historical Ducal Park.
A route specially devised for music lovers, affording the opportunity to discover the illustrious places and famous figures synonymous with Parma’s musical history. It takes in visits to the Farnese Theatre, the Teatro Regio Opera House, the celebrated temple of “bel canto”, and to the Birthplace and Museum of Arturo Toscanini, the acclaimed Parma-born conductor. Next, it moves on to Auditorium Niccolò Paganini, the concert hall designed by Renzo Piano. Cusani Palace (Palazzo Cusani), meanwhile, is home to the House of Music and nearby is the House of Sound, with a vast collection of broadcasting equipment and sound reproduction systems.
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