Parma, Italy

On one of our vacation days, we decided to drive to Parma, a smaller but important city in northern Italy.

Parma, Italy

A church in Parma

Door to a church in Parma

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear Parma? Did you say…parmesan cheese? Why yes, indeed! The cheese Parmigiano Reggiano is maybe the most well-known speciality from this town and its surrounding areas. Parma is also known for Prosciutto, which in German is referred to as Parma Schinken, or Parma ham. I didn’t buy any Parma ham while we were in Italy, but I did buy Parmigiano Reggiano, as well as a few other cheeses. We can certainly buy authentic Parmigiano Reggiano here in Germany, but the kilo block I bought in Italy was definitely the best parmesan cheese I have ever eaten in my life. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more.

Parma is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Oriago. I really enjoyed visiting Parma for the afternoon. It’s got such a different feel from Venice. For one thing, it’s a famous university town and we did notice many college students getting around on their bicycles.

And being such an important gastronomical capital of Italy, we made sure to take time for a leisurely lunch. We found an unassuming but fabulous trattoria off the high street. Rosebud thoroughly enjoyed her pizza Margherita, while I had a lovely roasted veal and potatoes entrée, plus a mixed salad and then lemon tart for dessert. Rosebud helped me eat the lemon tart, of course! I think that David had the best meal of all, an amazing ossobuco with Parmesan risotto.

We went to Parma partially on a whim in that it had been recommended to me by a friend, but we didn’t do much research before arriving there. As we walked down the high street, we kept following the signs for the tourist office but never found the tourist office. That didn’t really matter, however, because there are so many beautiful buildings and churches that we enjoyed simply sight-seeing.

This tower is the Baptistery of Parma, fashioned out of a beautiful pink marble.

Baptistery Tower of Parma

Carved Door to the Baptistery Tower

It’s next to the Parma Cathedral.

Duomo in Parma

Another view of the Duomo

This photo is especially for Professor Hildegard, a friend of ours who just received her PhD in Medieval Studies. I’ve long enjoyed looking at her photographs and close-up details of medieval architecture and was inspired by her to take this photo.

Detail - Baptistery Tower in Parma, next to the Duomo

I think that I’d like to go back to Parma. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there, and there is so much more to see and do. I didn’t realize, for example, that Giuseppe Verdi was from the region, born not far from Parma. One of my fondest college memories was performing Verdi’s Requiem at Lawrence University and it would have been great to see his birth house.

Another great of the music world born in Parma was the conductor Arturo Toscanini. Had I realized there was a museum where Toscanini was born, I would have liked to visit it.

I was amused by this street name:

Ciao, bella! Via Cardinal Ferrari, Parma, Italy


I just couldn’t help but imagine a cardinal zooming around Parma in his Ferrari, yelling “ciao!”

This is the Governor’s Palace:

The Governor's Palace, Parma, Italy

And finally, I love this picture of David and Rosebud, along the Parma River:

Daddy and Rosebud along the Parma River

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4 responses to “Parma, Italy

  1. Beautiful photos, Melinda! I am so envious of your travels. The snap of Rosebud and her daddy is too precious!

    • bowmansinbavaria

      Thank you, Bonnie! We are really lucky we live within driving distance of all these beautiful places.

  2. The town looks beautiful. I think gastronomic capital and ancient university town may be my favorite civic combination.

    I love how (relatively) inexpensive real Parmesan cheese is here in Europe. In general, a lot of the so called premium items seem to be part of everyone’s daily diet, and so I’m not priced out of eating well. But I’m sure the supermarket doesn’t come close to getting the food at its source.

    • bowmansinbavaria

      I agree, it’s an awesome civic combination. Parma was just such a charming city to visit. I only wished we had had a little more time to spend there. But since we’re not that far, I’m sure we’ll be back at some point.

      I don’t know about you, but I think food tastes better here. I’ve heard that there are stricter laws on what kinds of preservatives can be used for food; also fertilizers are more controlled. That, I’m sure, plays a part in why I think the food quality is so good. But I think a lot of it has to do with tradition as well. In the little town of Oriago, where we stayed, we found a local salumeria (Italian butcher’s shop) which had fabulous salami and other cuts of meat. Those kinds of items, that are still hand-made, have so much flavor! I really enjoy that kind of stuff.

      I was just looking at your Wien/Österreich photos on FB, actually. We’ll have to plan trips to Linz, the Wachau and especially Hallstatt; and I want to get back to Wien at some point. So many beautiful places to see, so many things to do!

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