Parma has so many exciting things to do and places to explore. You won’t spend all of your time at university, so be sure to take some time to get to know the city of Parma and all that it has to offer.
Considered one of the finest Romanesque cathedrals in all of Italy, the Parma Cathedral is dedicated completely to the Madonna. It is also very well-known for its beautiful interior frescoes. If you’re in the old town, in the Piazza del Duomo, this cathedral is of great significance to the city of Parma. The front features large arches, and a large campanile sits next to the church. Once inside, the dome is the main focal point, with its vibrant fresco, illustrating the Virgin, painted by Correggio during the Renaissance.
Located at the Palazzo della Pilotta complex, the Teatro Farnese is a wooden theatre that was built in the 1600’s. At the time, it was also the largest theatre in the world, holding over 4,500 people. As that it was damaged severely during World War II, it has been restored for visitors today. Be sure to pay special attention to the semi-circular booths that were installed for the wealthy patrons of the time.
Sitting on the banks of the River Torrente Parma, this is one of the largest complexes of its kind. Constructed in the 1500’s, it has even served as a royal palace and a court. Some areas are still unfinished, creating a unique mix of plain stones and intricate architectural designs and decorations. The complex includes the National Gallery, the Biblioteca Palatina and the Teatro Farnese.
Parma boasts a number of beautiful green spaces, but none is quite as impressive as the large Parco Ducale. Sitting on over 200 square meters, this park is one of Parma’s central areas, affectionately coined "The Garden" by the locals. Across the river and next to the Palazzo della Pilotta, the park is very convenient and simple to access. There are several walking trails, surrounded by lush trees and plants, as well as the Fontana del Trianon. If you are hoping to find the ideal spot in which to relax and unwind after a long week at the university, the Parco Ducale is the perfect place.
If you want to explore a bit beyond the city of Parma, the sleepy village of Torrechiara is like walking into another world. At only a 35-minute drive from Parma, you will travel through the postcard-worthy Italian countryside on this relaxing journey. The main point of interest is the imposing Castello di Torrechiara, which was constructed in the 1400’s. Once at the top, it affords panoramic views of the entire area. Both the exterior and the interior of the castle are well-preserved. Be sure to visit the famous Camera d’Oro, otherwise known as the Golden Chamber.
Parma is well-known for its fresh, inventive foods, where chefs use locally sourced ingredients to prepare delicious dishes. Of course, you know that the food in Italy is going to phenomenal, but Parma does offer something special for the foodie in everyone.
Located in the village of Coloreto, a short 20 minutes from Parma’s city center, you will find a lovely trattoria that serves tasty Italian dishes with a bit of French twist. Preparing fresh pasta daily, owner and head chef Matteo Ugolotti offers a diverse menu, where the waiters always offer the perfect wine pairing from the extensive list. This restaurant is also informal with a friendly staff, making it a favorite among the student population.
Open for over 40 years, La Greppia is one of Parma’s favorite restaurants. Chef Paolo Cola serves a traditional menu with plenty of modern surprises, such as the artichokes in prosciutto sauce. The dining space is elegant, with a basement wine cellar right below your feet.
This creative dining establishment offers a unique selection of cured meats, along with several pasta and rice dishes, like the popular Risotto al Radicchio e Salsiccia. The ambiance is cozy in the small dining area, and the local wines allow you to settle right into this welcoming atmosphere.
When the weekend hits, the bustling street of Via Farini is the place to be and be seen. Here you will find a wide variety of bars, pubs and nightclubs, with something to suit just about anyone’s taste. Malve offers what might just be the city’s best aperitivo. If you love the taste of rum, then head over to the Gavanasa Club or the Pirù. If you’re looking for a great wine bar, then opt for Tabarro, with an extensive, unique wine list, or Cantina dei Suonati, with its tasty selection of cheeses and live music. If ambiance is key, then be sure to explore Tonic, which is housed in a lovely old building. Yet another hot spot for students, Dulcamara is a popular space for the student athletes to gather, especially for an aperitif. Also right down the street is Tapas, a vivid Spanish spot that is a favorite with the locals. When in Oltretorrente, Borgo Bernabei Borgo B is the place where students like to socialize. They offer cheap drinks and carefully selected background music to set the scene.
When "going out" means that you’re in for a night of dancing, Parma offers plenty of options.
Mafalda and Dadaumpa are located at the end of Emilia East, and they offer several different styles of music.* *Dadaumpa, from April to September, offers a delicious buffet and live Italian music to dance to. Other favorites include La Corte del Sol and Nero Blanco, along with Positiva, which hosts a student night on Wednesdays in conjunction with Erasmus.
Circolo Arci, located in Taneto di Gattatico, is a fantastic place to see live concerts. At the Paganini Bar, during the warm months, music is held on the lawn, and you can get a beer for just 1,70€. The Pilotta is also a popular place to see live musicians perform on the weekends.
Due to its unique location and diverse culture, Parma offers some of the regions most varied events. Whether it be food, art, music or even something more eclectic, Parma will fill your social calendar with a plethora of activities.
As that Parma is famous for its ham, it would only be right to hold a festival in its honor. The Festival del Prosciutto di Parma is held in the fall in September, boasting a list of activities that celebrates both Parma’s food and culture.
As you’ll quickly learn, the fall in Parma is full of festivals and fairs, and one of its resident’s favorites might just be the famous Festival Verdi, which happens between September and October at the Teatro Regio, celebrating the father of Italian music: Giuseppe Verdi. This is one event that you’ll want to buy tickets for in advance!
This two-day event is held in May, and it showcases new and inventive ways to display art and set up installations. Artists are also on hand to show their designs, and there will be workshops to attend, as well as a floor of exhibit space to explore.