What if we told you that Parma, far beyond being the cradle of Parmigiano and Prosciutto and the only UNESCO site for Creative Gastronomy in Emilia-Romagna, is a real icon of vintage elegance and enviable lifestyle, with a deeply-rooted cultural awareness and a multifaceted fusion of tradition and modernity?
A flaneur walk with our licensed expert guide along the smoothed cobblestones stretching out from Piazza Garibaldi to Piazza Duomo will first of all unveil the thousand- year-old origins of the town… but even just one single step inside the Cathedral of S. Maria Assunta is usually enough to catch the visitors’ wow in front of the unexpected profusion of late Renaissance frescoes bejeweling the whole of its walls and vaults in Michelangelo style. Not to speak of Correggio’s masterpiece painted in the cupola in the first half of the 1500s, superb benchmark of the switch toward Baroque and a new sense for illusion and perspective.
500 meters further toward the river, another sudden sliding door will let you stumble upon the new monumental patterns of the unplastered Palazzo della Pilotta, dating back to the 1600s and housing one of Europe’s richest art collections along with the wooden Teatro Farnese, stunning precursor of contemporary opera theatres.
And now – as if by magic – just look back and you’ll notice elegant and sober buildings of the Neoclassic such as Palazzo di Riserva, Palazzo del Giardino and Palazzo del Governatore, all dressed up in the typical Parma yellow nuances as the Bourbon Dukes wanted them in the 1700s to transform the town in a (still) French looking Petite Capitale.
Teatro Regio, the most yellow treasure box of all, salutes the passengers from its graceful tympanum and remind us of Marie Louise from Habsburg, the beloved Duchess who also had her favorite variety of violets turned into a still existing perfume called Violetta di Parma, thus introducing an allure that is still to be perceived in the locals’ lifestyle and sense for aesthetics.
A last stroll through the arts-and-crafts district, where old shops are always brimming with handmade objects of all kinds from leather to glass, from wood to paper, and then you’ll head on to a dream-lunch in perfect Parma style, comfortably seated at one of the restaurants of via Farini: don’t stay hungry and… viva la dolce vita!