Have you ever heard of the Coliseum in Rome? Everyone has, right? Everyone knows about the Leaning Tower of Pisa as well. However, most people’s minds draw a blank when they hear about Parma, Italy, and that’s unfortunate. You’ll see why, because I’m about to tell you about this ancient Italian town. It turns out that it has a lot of history, places to see, and things to do. Oh, and it’s also the birthplace of parmesan cheese, prosciutto ham, and balsamic vinegar. Continue reading to discover the best things to do in Parma, Italy. You’ll be glad you did!
What is Parma, Italy, Known for?
Do you love parmesan cheese? Did you know that it comes from Parma, a city in North Italy? Parma is in Italy’s Emilio-Romagna region. Incidentally, it’s also the birthplace of prosciutto ham. The city may be small, but its home to Parma University. If you’re considering visiting Italy (most people ponder doing that at least once in their lifetimes), you should put Parma on your bucket list of cities to visit.
There’s always plenty to do at night; that’s when the city comes to life! Also, since some of the world’s greatest music composers are Italian, you can listen to some great performances. Parma won’t disappoint you if you’re the kind who likes to do a lot of sightseeing and picture-taking while on vacation. The city is home to architecture that can’t be found anywhere else, beautiful rural areas, centuries-old buildings, and churches that are true works of art.
Creative and Useful Ways to Spend Time in Parma, Italy
Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi
The building is located in downtown Parma. Most of Italy’s main businesses are located in the huge Piazza. The ruins of an ancient Roman forum lie underneath it. Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi was known as Piazza Grande for most of the 20th century. Walking around the collection of buildings, you’ll see many historical monuments. One of these is the Ponte Romano (to the west). Walking south of the cluster of buildings, you’ll see an ancient Roman theatre and arena. Many of the Piazza’s buildings go back to ancient Roman times. Back then, civil, religious, and business affairs took place here.
One more popular and historic building is the Palazzo Del Governatore. It was constructed between 1283-1285. Back then, it served as a place where merchants could form Guilds (unionize) and discuss various work-related matters. The townsfolk called it the Palazzo dei Mercanti when it was first built. You’ll find the Palazzo Vecchio (many people call it the Palazzo del Commune), built in 1221. If you were to walk up close to it, you’d see logia outside and salons with beautiful and ancient tile pictures (frescos) on their exteriors and interiors.
Things to See at Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Visit a Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Factory – you’ll learn exactly how one of the world’s most popular and highly regarded cheeses is made. You’ll see the milk churning process and the aging process. You’ll also see all of the processes used to make Parmesan cheese.
- The tour guide will thoroughly educate you on parmesan cheese’s history- You’ll also be allowed to do a wine and cheese tasting – you’ll taste three of Parma’s top cheeses.
- Each group consists of, at most, eight people- People ages 6-99 can participate. The tour lasts for three hours. You’ll need to check the tour’s website to know when the tours are being held and which ones are currently available. You can reserve tickets through an app on your mobile device. Tour guides will give the tours in Italian and English.
- You’ll be picked up from and dropped off at your hotel- Don’t be surprised if you see the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi while traveling to the factory. It’s just that you won’t make a stop there. Disabled people aren’t encouraged to go on the tour since there’s no provision for wheelchairs.
- Also, it’s near major bus stops- so you can take the public bus to the factory. While you can rent an infant seat, remember that infants and smaller babies must sit on your lap. You can call 1-855-275-5071 and use the product reference code 5919P414 if you have any issues or questions. Someone courteous, knowledgeable, and friendly will be more than happy to assist you.
- Your tour will be confirmed when you book your ticket- Just remember that the tour can’t be held if a certain number of people don’t participate. Don’t worry; you’ll receive a notification and a full refund if that occurs. If you need to cancel, you must do so at least 24 hours before the tour starts to receive a full refund. Tickets are $67.58 per person.
- There are full COVID checks in place- These include regular temperature checks, fully sanitized buses, guides being required to wash hands frequently, and wearing face masks when in high-density public areas, among other measures.
- Palazzo delle Poste – this was built during medieval times. It was a housing complex surrounded by a church – San Michele del Pertugio. The church and houses closed in 1653 and were demolished in 1687. The Ducal Theatre was constructed in its place.
- Two architects from Piacenza – Stefano Lolli and Domenico Valmagini – built the theatre, which held shows until 1829. The Regio Theatre was built in 1829, and so was the Riserva Building. The latter building had courthouses and casinos for ultra-rich Italians and foreigners to stay and gamble at.
- The Riserva Building currently houses Italy’s main post office- the Parma Literary Society, the Museo Lombardi, and the Duomo of the history of theatre. The Palazzo delle Poste was designed by Moderanno Chiavelli of Fontanellato and has a facade inspired by art theories that were popular during the Baroque period. The Via Melloni has a vestibule with artwork, which was the brainchild of Paolo Baratta. Riccardo Del Prato designed the relief on the main facade.
- Certosa di Parma – it was once a Cartusian Monastery. You can visit it a few miles out of Parma’s city limits. It took nineteen years to build. Construction started in 1285 and didn’t end until 1304.
- Rolando Taverna- who was the Archbishop of Spoleto at the time the monastery was built, was the one who commissioned its construction. The original monastery is nothing but an almost unrecognizable pile of ruins. However, one relic remains, and that is the minor abbey which was built in the 1400s.
- A monastery inspired by Baroque architecture and artwork was constructed in its place- The building began in 1673 and ended in 1722. Francesco Pescaroli was the one who came up with the designs for the initial monastery and the subsequent abbey and church.
- Religious activities ended at the monastery in 1769, and the buildings were used to make cigars- It became known as the Fabbrica Ducale dei Tabacchi di Parma. It was converted into a reform center for child criminals at the turn of the 20th century. It gained its current occupation as a school for police who work in prisons in 1975.
- Guided Small-Group Tour TastyBus: Parma Cheese and Parma Ham – taste the two foods that put Parma on the global map! You’ll travel throughout Parma on a comfy, air-conditioned bus. A seasoned and knowledgeable tour guide will tell you everything you need to know about parmesan cheese and Prosciutto ham, including their history and modern uses.
- You’ll visit many factories- where the cheese and ham are made for local, national, and global consumption. You’ll also get to sample authentic balsamic vinegar. Your tour will end with lunch at a small trattoria.
- Only 20 people are allowed per group.
- People of all ages are welcome.
- The tour takes between 4 to 7 hours.
- You can make reservations through an app.
- The tours are conducted in English and Italian.
- You’ll be picked up from and dropped off at your hotel in Parma.
- You can purchase the products made in the factories out of your funds.
The tour starts at Carico scarico bus turistici, Parma Viale Paolo, 43121 Parma PR, Italy. You’ll meet your guide, who can speak both English and Italian. The tour starts at 9:20 AM at a tourist bus stop in Viale Toschi. The tour will start after a brief introduction, lasting approximately 10 minutes.
The first stop is at Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, Via J.F. Kennedy, 18 42124 Reggio Emilio RE, Italy. There is a parmesan cheese factory – Parmigiano Reggiano PDO production factory – you’ll learn how milk is processed and made into one of your favorite cheeses.
You’ll learn why Parmesan cheese is so sought after worldwide – it has a unique and slightly acidic taste that’s delectable and doesn’t spoil easily. Parmesan cheese also tastes better as it ages. The tour guide will teach you about the different types of parmesan cheese and how to spot them. This part of the tour lasts for an hour.
The second stop is at Consorzio Del Prosciutto Di Parma. It’s located at Largo Piero Calamandrei, 1/a 43121 Parma PR, Italy. This is one of the factories where the world-famous Prosciutto ham is produced.
When you see it in your grocery store, you’ll learn about every phase the ham goes through to reach its refined and tasty state. You’ll learn how the meat is cut and seasoned. This part of the tour ends with the opportunity to taste some Prosciutto ham. You’ll be back at Piazza Garibaldi at 2 in the afternoon. This part of the tour lasts for approximately one hour.
The third stop is at Osteria La Maesta, Via di Case Trombi, 15, 43037 Mulazzano Ponte PR, Italy. This part of the tour is for those who have booked a ticket for the full-day version. You’ll be learning all about the local foods that the people who live in Parma love. You’ll end the tour with lunch at a small, traditional Italian restaurant. You can enjoy delicious local dishes with some good quality Italian wine. This part of the tour lasts for an hour.
The fourth stop is at Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia DOP, Via Josip Broz Tito, 11/D 42123 Reggio Emilia RE, and Italy. You’ll go to an ancient balsamic vinegar production factory, which is still in use. You’ll learn exactly how balsamic vinegar is produced and how it gets that delicious, acidic, rich taste. You’ll be back at Viale di Toschi at 5 PM. The tour lasts for an hour.
Amazing Facts to know
Disabled people can bring wheelchairs on the bus. They can also rent wheelchairs. The tourist stop is near the city bus stop, and infants and smaller babies must sit on an adult’s lap. You can call 1-855-275-5071 and refer to the product code 16427P11 if you have any issues or questions. Your tour will be confirmed when you book your ticket. You must cancel your ticket 24 hours before the tour starts to receive a full refund. The total cost of the tour is $173.30.
Discover Parma Foods with Laura
You’ll go with a tour guide named Laura Panella, who speaks both English and Italian. You’ll travel to various smaller and family-owned factories to learn how Italy’s main exports – parmesan cheese, prosciutto ham, and balsamic vinegar are produced. The tour ends with a lunch of local hams, cheeses, and ravioli. Then, you’ll polish those popular Italian dishes off with fine regional wines. You can contact Laura directly at Food Tours In Parma. Tell Laura her friends from Skycap News recommend her services as one of the best things to do in Parma!
Other Useful Information
- People ages 1-99 are welcome. The tour lasts for five hours, and you’ll have to go to the tour’s website to check for the availability of tours. You can reserve tickets through a mobile device, and tour guides speak German, French, Spanish, Italian, and English.
- You’ll get snacks and coffee and tea along the way. You don’t have to pay for lunch or the wine either.
- The first and only stop is at Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. This part of the tour lasts for four hours, and you’ll visit local and small factories.
- You’ll have a pick up from your hotel and a drop off at the point where the tour started. You can bring wheelchairs on the bus. You can also rent infant seats and bring strollers on the bus. You’ll have to place infants and small babies on an adult’s lap. You must cancel for a full refund at least 24 hours before the tour starts.
- The bus is fully sanitized, you’ll be provided with hand sanitizers throughout the tour, and tour guides must wear masks in public places. Cost of the tour: $272.49 per adult.
Best things to Do In Parma, Italy Conclusion
Parma is one of those hidden gems in Italy. Sure, no one may have ever heard of it, but it has a lot of history, things to see, and things to do makes it all the more attractive. Now that you know the best things to do in Parma, you should put Italy on your bucket list of places to see while you still can!