NEXT STOP: PARMA
San Girolamo del Correggio’s ‘Madonna’, the ‘Turkish Slave’ by Parmigianino, Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Scapigliata’, the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral or the Antelami Baptistery: it is not hard to understand why Parma has been tapped as Italy’s 2020 Capital of
Parma, more than any other European city, has been the protagonist for the fate of numerous states and noted families. Crossed by the historic Via Emilia, the ancient Roman road cuts the region of Emilia Romagna in two, running from the shores of the Adriatic Sea to the city of Piacenza, just outside the region of Lombardy. Parma the “ducal city”. Parma, the Italian capital of culture. The city has earned this recognition thanks to its “virtuous and high-quality example of planning based on culture”. This is what motivated the jury of experts, chaired by Bocconi University professor and cultural transformation scholar, Stefano Baia Curioni. Every year an Italian city is chosen by a seven-member panel of sector specialists who have been appointed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism. The selection based on present cultural development and future projects. The initiative’s objectives include the enhancement of the cultural and historical landscape of the city, stimulating growth while improving and increasing services dedicated to tourism. The Parma plan also involves a general enhancement of the ducal territory, particularly rich from the artistic, cultural and, as we will see later, a gastronomic point of view. The region of northern Italy, moreover, is a particularly lively, cultural territory: With this in mind, Bologna is one of the principal Italian cities, with Modena and, indeed, Parma following closely.
So we are driven to travel to the Italian cultural capital, to experience the city, its monuments, and Parma’s stellar artworks Parma that will be even more recognized over the next few years.
We start our visit to Parma from Piazza Garibaldi, the nerve center of the city where tourists are faced with the city’s first architectural and cultural beauties. The Palazzo del Governatore illuminates the square with its baroque and neoclassical forms. Built at the end of the 1200s, the palace had different functions over the centuries: it was conceived as a merchants’ center, Palazzo dei Mercanti, later the building was used for administrative and municipal tasks.
After undergoing many renovations, the building is now a temporary modern-andcontemporary art exhibition site. Here is a nugget of information: the building’s wall, near the corner between Piazza Garibaldi and Cavour road, the “brick of Parma”, an ancient unit of measurement by Parma builders, is still there today. The square takes its name from the statue of Garibaldi who, from 1893, dominates and observes all the surrounding context. The monument dedicated to the hero of the two worlds replaced the precedent Bourbon-era Ara Amicitiae that stood in the square since 1769. The square itself is a mixture of history and tradition, which draws its origin from Roman times with the route of the Via Emilia, circa 190 BC. For art lovers, a visit to the Basilica of San Giovanni Evangelista is a must. The church, decorated with a series of frescoes by Correggio, dates back to around 1520. The works that decorate the dome include the “Vision of Saint John at Patmos” (also known as the Ascension of Christ among the apostles). Roaming through the streets of Parma these days, between the works and the “noble” palaces, means, therefore, breathing a lung full of history, found in few other places in the world. A tour of Parma, therefore, cannot exclude a visit to the imposing Palazzo della Pilotta, which is located in the center of the city and derives its name from the Basque game ‘Pelota’, played by Spanish soldiers in the “Guazzatoio” courtyard. The National Gallery of Parma is the custodian of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpieces: “La Scapigliata”, a painting on a panel that over the centuries has known illustrious owners such as the Gonzaga family and the Este family. Created in the early 1500s, the piece is an unfinished work by the famous artist and is one of the most fascinating paintings in the museum. Even music plays a crucial role in Parma, both historically and contemporarily. The birthplace of Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, whose home today has become a museum, together with
An ideal journey through the Italian capital of culture 2020, to experience the city’s monuments and art works by the great protagonists of Parma
the Casa della Musica in Palazzo Cusani, preserves and enhances the priceless heritage of Italian and world music culture. Musicians cannot miss a pilgrimage to an operatic temple, the Teatro Regio, built between 1821 and 1829 by architect Nicola Bettoli and considered one of the most important traditional theaters in Italy. A characteristic cradle of a past full of life and culture, with the charm of a small bohemian village, monumentality embellished with Romanesque art, Parma continues to stack up accolades. In 2015, for example, Parma was tapped by UNESCO as the first Italian destination awarded the title Creative City of Gastronomy. Fine cuisine is one of the city’s strengths and traditional foods, such as Parmigiano-reggiano, Parma Ham, Culatello di Zibello, Salame di Felino, the cured pork specialty Spalla di San Secondo. But also it is important to consider the great companies linked to the canning and pasta industry. The local Porcini Mushrooms from Val Taro and Fragno’s black truffle, in addition to the unmistakable wines of Parma, are even more kudos to the city and its surroundings’ delectable culinary offerings.
It impossible not to succumb to the temptation of these specialties, created to satisfy Duchesses and Barons, and which have managed to maintain their flavors intact over the centuries, thanks to the effort and passion of producers and restaurateurs.
Piazza Duomo. Inside the cathedral.