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Parma, ancient capital of the namesake Duchy, has been set to music by Giuseppe Verdi, narrated by Giovanni Guareschi and immortalised in film by Bernardo Bertolucci. It is one of the cities in Italy with the best standard of living and the highest levels of culture and cuisine. Indeed, in this region two of the most celebrated food products in the world are made: Parmesan cheese and Parma ham, together with culatello and Felino salami. Beyond being one of the capitals of Italy’s food industry, Parma is also an important artistic and cultural centre. The city, features a series of splendid art works and buildings, including the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Monastery of San Giovannni Evangelista, as well as plenty of theatres and palaces legacy of the ducal family. In addition, Giuseppe Verdi was born in the nearby, and many of his operas are performed in the city’s magnificent opera house. So get prepared for a full immersion in art and culture, in all their possible forms!
Parma is not only rich when it comes to food, but also a city with an impressive cultural and artistic tradition. This alluring town will for sure conquer you with its important art galleries, museums, ancient churches and buildings as well as stunning natural reserves and green areas in its vicinity. In this region you will find the right balance between cultural activities and active holiday, so to fully experience a perfect stay in Italy.
Parmesan cuisine is full of variety. First and foremost, the city has given its name to several prized dairy and meat products, the highlights of which are undeniably Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) and Parma ham. As in the rest of Italy, meals are accompanied by local high-quality wines such as the reds Colli di Parma and Lambrusco, or the whites Sauvignon and Malvasia. The real autochthonous queens of the kitchen are the so-called "rezdore", all the grandmothers and mothers who are capable to make real Parmisan dishes according to the tradition. But if you don't know anyone from here, you can taste local specialties in the numerous restaurants, agritourisms and trattorias scattered all around the city and in the neighborhoods.
During your tour around the city, in-between all the amazing sights, you deserve to sit back, relax and enjoy a nice cup of coffee accompanied by a delicious Italian pastry. One cake not to be missed is the Duchessa di Parma (Parma duchess), a rich cake with zabaglione and chocolate ganache dedicated to Maria Luigia Duchess (Napoleon’s wife). Parma, like any other city in Italy, has several historic cafes and ice cream parlours, but also modern and lively bars where to enjoy nice aperitifs before to start your Parmesan night. Start exploring Parma’s strong cafe culture and try a typical Italian espresso.
Parma boasts a lively before-dinner scene. Many bars have happy hours of all kinds, which usually lasts more than one hour, and that are often accompanied by substantial snacks and good music. Whereas, actual Parmesan movida by night starts in via Farini, where people go from one wine bar to another, and later continue to dance or enjoy live music in clubs situated both in the centre and outside the city.
Italian fashion and food should be the key themes for Parma’s visitors. The city centre is full of fashion boutiques (the most important shopping streets are: via Garibaldi, Strada della Repubblica, via Cavour, via Mazzini and via Massimo D’Azeglio) where you can buy clothes, leather goods and stylish shoes. For food there are many shops where you can find not only Parma ham and Parmesan cheese, but also an impressive variety of salted pork meats (try culatello and Felino salami), pastas and wines. In many pastry shops, you can pick up the typical Parma cake called the Duchessa Maria Luigia and sweeties called violette di Parma (violets of Parma). Violetta di Parma is also the name of the essence made in honour of the Duchess Maria Luigia. Lastly, Parma has also a district of antiques shops and art galleries, which are located along Strada Farini, via XXII luglio and Strada della Repubblica.
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