Cheesy Parma doesn’t grate

I just love the fact that the Italian town of Parma gives its name to types of cheese and ham.  Any city which celebrates food is worth visiting in my book.

Parma is one of the most attractive of the Emilian cities.  In other words, it is part of the region known as Emilia-Romagna is Northern Italy.

Parma is a city of traditional aristocratic cultures and rich with precious works of art.  It was home to two of Italy’s greatest composers, Arturo Toscanini and Guiseppe Verdi, who must have been inspired to create great music by connecting with Parma’s delightful surroundings.

Parma has both a strong Etruscan and Roman heritage, being founded over 2,000 years ago, and boasts many well-preserved ancient remains of these former inhabitants.  It is surrounded by rich farmland that is able to assist in the production of excellent foodstuffs, as evidence by the popularity of the local Parma ham and its famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which accompanies pasta so well and which had been made in this part of Italy for over 700 years.

At the centre of Parma is the Piazza del Duomo, considered to be one of the loveliest city centres in all of Italy.

The Piazza forms the forecourt to the Duomo Cathedral, an elaborate 11th century building. The stunning octagonal Baptistry is clad in Veronese-colored pink marble and elaborately festooned with reliefs by the local sculptor and architect Benedetto Antelami who lived in the 12th and 13th centuries. Much of artists’ reputation comes from works found within the Duomo Baptistry which is considered to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in northern ltaly.

When you do venture inside the Duomo Cathedral next door, one of the high points of your visit is to  look up towards the recently restored cupola at Antonio Correggio’s famous Assumption of the Virgin (1522-1530). Correggio has a reputation for being  one of Italy’s greatest masters of the High Renaissance period.  Even so, this great artist had his critics, and even the concentric circles of figures were dismissed at the time as a “mess of frogs’ legs” by the ungrateful bishop who initially commissioned the piece.

Since Parma enjoys such a rich history, this is generally reflected in its many beautiful buildings, particularly those along the Piazzale della Pilotta as well as the Piazza del Duomo, where the Palazzo del Vescovado is hard to miss. Other prominent landmarks dotted around Parma include the Casa di Toscanini, and the Palazzo Ducale, which stands proudly at the very entrance of the spacious Parc Ducale and features a rather distinctive yellow facade.    

The town of Parma is relatively easy to reach being just 97 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Bologna, and l2l km (75 miles) southeast of Milan.

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