15 Best things to do in Parma (Italy)

Parma is one of the largest cities in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, famous for its prosciutto and cheese. The city of 192,000 has seen some form of habitation since the Bronze Age and has continued to play an important role in the development of Italy throughout the ages.

In the Middle Ages, Parma was ruled by the Franks and was part of the Holy Roman Empire, but in the 1200s it was caught up in a conflict between Guelph and Gibeling. In the 1800s, the city was annexed by France under Napoleon and finally became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Due to its rich history and the influence of various cultures and ruling empires, Parma is rich in historical sights and wonderful religious buildings.

From the beautiful Cathedral of Palma and the magnificent Teatro Real, to the interesting Grauco Lombard Museum and National Gallery – there is something for everyone’s tastes and interests! In addition to its splendid sights, Parma is also home to a number of great restaurants and cafés serving world-renowned cuisine.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Parma:

1. Parma Cathedral

Cathedral of Palma

Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Parma Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of Italian Romanesque cathedrals and is famous for its exquisite interior frescoes.

The Cathedral is located on the Cathedral Square in the heart of the historic old town and has an important place in the city.

There is a series of ornate arches on the front, and a huge bell tower stands beside the church.

Inside, the cathedral has many beautiful decorations, but the centerpiece is the stunning fresco on the main dome.

This fresco depicting the Assumption of the Virgin, painted by Correggio, is full of colour even today and is considered a fine example of Renaissance art.

2. Parma Baptistery

Parma Baptistery

As the main baptistery of Parma, this structure sits next to the cathedral but actually dwarfs it and rises higher than the central point of the cathedral’s roof.

The Baptistery rises high above the surrounding buildings and features some fantastic exterior artwork and arches.

While the exterior itself is great, the interior is stunning and covered in detailed frescoes and marble statues.

Each octagonal wall panel contains a separate fresco, painted in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the higher wall sections contain statues of important Italians.

On the ceiling section, there is an ornate painting divided into sections, each of which depicts a different religious figure.

See also  15 Best things to do in Giuliano, Campania (Italy)

3. Piazza Garibaldi

Garibaldi Square

Palma has many charming squares, but the most striking is Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, just south of the cathedral in the historic city center.

This square is surrounded by important buildings, including the huge Palazzo del Governatore, Comune Di parma and the Church of St. Paul the Apostle.

In front of the Doge’s Palace stands a bronze statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who played an important role in the unification of Italy.

It’s a great place to relax, with a range of shops, restaurants and cafes for your convenience.

4. Farnese Theatre

Farnese Theater

Teatro Farnese, located in the Palazzo della Pilotta building, is one of the most famous wooden theatres today.

Created in the 1600s, it was also the largest theatre in the world at the time, with a capacity of 4,500.

Although severely damaged during World War II, the theatre has been restored and today you can admire the amazing detail of the wooden seats and walls.

Surrounding the semicircular seats are a series of ornate wooden arches that would have served as boxes for Parma’s wealthy elite.

5. St. John the Evangelist Church

San Giovanni Evangelista

Hidden behind the cathedral is another fantastic church, St. John the Evangelist, built in the Renaissance in the 1500s.

The façade of the church is made of the same pink marble as the cathedral, in Romanesque style, and features several very detailed sculptures and a 73m high bell tower.

Inside, the building has a wealth of religious artwork and beautiful decorations, and more by the famous artist Correggio.

In addition, there is an adjoining monastery that provides insight into religious history through its collection of ancient manuscripts and codices.

6. Palazzo de la Pilotta

Palazzo de la Pilotta

This massive complex is one of the largest in Parma and is situated on beautiful grounds on the banks of the River Torrente Parma.

The complex was built in the late 1500s and served various functions, including a royal palace and a courthouse.

Parts of the structure remain unfinished, thus creating a strange combination of modest stone buildings with decorative façades and beautiful arched walkways.

Within this complex you will find the National Gallery, the Palatine Library and the magnificent Farnese Theatre.

7. Parco Ducale

Duke of Parco

Parma has several beautiful parks, but not as vast and luscious as the vast Parco Ducale.

Covering more than 200 square meters, the park is one of the central recreation areas of Parma, simply called “The Garden”. The park is conveniently located across the river, next to the Palazzo della Pilotta.

See also  15 Best things to do in Ancona (Italy)

Throughout the park you can find various pleasant avenues filled with trees and plants, as well as the fantastic Trianon Fountain surrounded by a beautiful body of water.

Impeccably designed, the overall layout and aesthetics of the park are great, and if you’re looking for a place to relax, Parco Ducale is your haven.

8. Governor’s Palace

Governor's Palace

Built in the 1200s, this historic building has been a major government building for hundreds of years, designed in Baroque and Neoclassical styles.

You can find this massive building in Piazza Garibaldi, which spans the entire square – the central clock tower has a large clock face that rises above the surrounding buildings.

Inside the structure is the wonderful Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which offers a fantastic array of modern creations and ever-changing exhibits.

9. Museo archeologico Nazionale di Parma

National Archaeological Museum of Parma

The National Archaeological Museum is another fine building located in the Palazzo della Pilotta complex, founded in 1790 and has since then housed a vast collection of ancient artifacts and artifacts.

Today, the extensive collection includes a huge head of the Greek god Zeus, artifacts from the Palatine Hill excavations, various ancient Egyptian finds, and a collection of Greek vases and pottery.

In addition, there is a wonderful exhibition of Bronze Age and Iron Age finds collected from the Emilia-Romagna region.

10. Visit Torrechiara

Torrechiara Castle

If you’re looking for a day trip from Parma, the peaceful Torrechiara countryside will offer you a different experience.

This charming village is about a 35-minute drive south of Parma – on your journey you will travel through the beautiful Italian countryside.

The main attraction of this village is the stunning Castello di Torrechiara, built in the 1400s.

Dwarfing the village, this massive structure stands proudly on a hill, giving it a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

While the architecture of the castle remains in splendid condition, the interior is also well preserved and features several beautifully decorated rooms, including the famous Camera d’Oro (Golden Temple).

11. National Gallery of Parma

National Gallery of Parma

You can find this impressive art gallery within the Palazzo della Pilotta complex in the heart of the historic old town.

The collection has been built over time, with some pieces from the Renaissance.

Famous artists in the exhibit include Leonardo da Vinci, Anthony van Dijk, Correggio and Canaletto.

See also  15 Best things to do in Lecce (Italy)

For art lovers, this beautiful display is truly monumental, and the variety and quality of the pieces it contains are astounding.

12. Grand Theater

Grand Theater

The Theatre Royal, next to the Palazzo della Pilotta, is another amazing theatre that is still in use today.

While the exterior of the theater may look modest, the interior of this structure is nothing short of divine and one of the best in all of Italy.

With a capacity of 1400 people, the theatre has an intimate feel where the audience is close to the action.

Round seating plan with red velvet and gold trim, with 5 levels of individual box seating.

In addition, the ceilings and walls are filled with ornate decorations.

13. Orto Botanico di Parma

Palma Botanical Garden

Maintained by the University of Parma, this botanical garden is located in the Viale Martiri della Liberta in the city center.

In this beautiful garden you can find many different plants and tree species.

Notable varieties include a variety of aquatic plants such as umbels, lichens, and tree species including ginkgo and magnolia.

In addition, there are several different greenhouses with a variety of beautiful tropical plants and tropical fruits.

14. Basilica of Santa Maria de la Stecata

Church of Santa Maria de la Sticata

Another fine church in the center of Palma, the Shrine of Santa Maria della Stecata is a very beautiful building in a Renaissance design.

While the exterior building is symmetrical, with several circular towers, the interior is quite stunning, with plenty of colorful frescoes and ornate decorations.

Each of the four circular towers contains a ceiling covered in gold trim, but the central dome is the main attraction.

Painted in bright colours and rich blues, the main fresco depicts the oath scene, painted in part by the renowned Parma artist Bernardino Gatti.

15. Grau Colombardy Museum

Grau Colombardy Museum

This museum offers a unique insight into the world of legendary military commander and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his wide Marie.

Located in Pez Square in the center of Palma, this museum is a great place to explore the city on foot and offer a different historical perspective.

Here you’ll find a wonderful collection of photographs, artifacts and letters centered on the commander’s personal life and his relationship with his beloved wife – things that Napoleon’s military exploits often left untouched , and often pale in comparison.

Where to stay: The best hotels in Parma, Italy
Lowest price guaranteed.