Known for its gastronomy since ancient Roman days, Parma is even more than just a hotspot for mouthwatering cheese and ham. The city in the Emilia-Romagna region has it all — from art and design to entertainment and relaxation. This is why it’s no surprise that the city was named the Capital of Culture of Italy for 2020, beating out a number of other contenders for the coveted title. So, if you find you want to do more than just sample the fine food this unique city has to offer, here are some other great things you can add to your itinerary to make the best of your visit to Parma, Italy.

The Art and Architecture

The Best things to do in Parma, Italy: Impressive view of Ducal garden's palace with close-up of marble statue, Parma, Italy

Italy tends to dazzle with its art and architecture and Parma is no exception. Art aficionados will want to make a stop at the Galleria Nazionale. While home to works by locals like Parmigianino and Antonio da Correggio, you can also spot pieces by Da Vinci and van Dyck. As the city’s main art collection, the Galleria Nazionale is an essential stop to appreciate Parma’s art scene. Parma also boasts a pretty appearance, specifically with its vast number of notable buildings for compelling Italian architecture. Built in a Romanesque style over the course of the 11th and 12th centuries, the Duomo of Parma shows off its mastery of medieval architecture. It’s also a good place for art lovers thanks to the impressive frescoes by Correggio. Nearby is the Battistero di Parma, a pink marble octagonal baptistery that’s considered to be one of the country’s most famous and celebrated medieval buildings.

The Opera

 

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Famed Italian composer Guiseppe Verdi lived just outside of Parma, which makes it obvious why the city has gone on to treasure not only his works, but also Italian opera as a whole. If you’re one of the droves of classical music fans looking for the lowest airfare to Italy to truly experience a renowned opera house, you can look no further than the Teatro Regio di Parma. The 1,200-seat venue hosts not just operas, but also concerts and ballets. The opera house also puts on a Verdi Festival each year to celebrate the local composer.

The Food

The Best things to do in Parma, Italy: italian food prosciutto di parma Italy

It goes without saying, but if you came to Parma without an appetite, you probably shouldn’t have come at all! This city is a foodie haven, even declared a Creative City for Gastronomy by UNESCO — the first city in all of Italy to be recognized as such. Across restaurant menus, you’ll find plenty of dishes using local greats like Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma. If there’s still room in your stomach, you can even join a number of food tours offered in town. And if you have a car, around 30 minutes to the outskirts of the city will take you to several food-related museums like the Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano, Museo del Prosciutto di Parma, Museo del Pomodoro, and Museo del Salame di Felino. Each of the museums showcase many of the reasons why the area is famous for its cuisine.

The Parks

The Best things to do in Parma, Italy: people walking in sunny day with autumn colors in Parco Ducale full of trees, principal park in Parma Italy

When you need to walk off all that prosciutto, Parma answers with its green spaces. Most visits to Parma should include a saunter through Parco Ducale. Spanning the west bank of the Parma River, Parco Ducale was created in the 16th-century around Duke Ottavio Farnese’s palace. The well-manicured grounds offer gravel pathways and expansive lawns for strolling, all sprinkled with fountains and sculptures. If you need another place to roam in Parma, you can do just that at Parco della Cittadella. Surrounding a 16th-century fortress, this city park has play areas for kids and even a jogging track.

Have you been to Parma, Italy? Share your experiences, or food finds, with us in the comments below!

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.