At the Court of Parma


Parma is a town that fulfils your senses. It proudly shows its architecture and goes along visitors by the note of its famous composer Giuseppe Verdi, maybe directed by his well-known fellow citizen, Arturo Toscanini. The town’s music staff is focused on the Duomo square that is the medieval soul of the city, featured by the cathedral, the baptistery and the Bishop’s palace.

The Cathedral is dedicated to the Assunta and it is considered one of the highest examples of the Romanesque architecture and its interior is featured by a Latin cross plan and it’s a coffer of works of art: starting from the ’”Assumption of the Virgin”, an amazing fresco by Correggio decorating the Dome, followed by the “Deposition”, the first recognized sculptural work by Benedetto Anelami, whose style is even more evident in the baptistery that represents the moving from the Roman art to the Gothic one. Discovering Parma also means walking towards the square of Peace, dominated by the big Pilotta palace, dating back to the XVIth century, where the National Gallery, that is one of the best art galleries of Italy, is based. It shows some works by Leonardo da Vinci, Tintoretto, Correggio, Canova and Giulio Romano.

At the entrance of the Gallery, in the hall, there’s another precious thing : it is the Farnese theatre, famous for its ancient stage mechanisms. The Archaeological Museum is worldwide well-known too and it hosts the best pre-historical relics of Northern Italy. On the other side of the Peace Square, inside the Palazzo della Riserva, the Glauco Lombardi Museum will catch your attention, it is a collection of the history of Parma from the beginning of the XVIIIth century up to the Italian Unification. The section dedicated to Mary Louise of Austria is very nice, she arrived there in 1816 and she soon became the Queen of the Great Duchy of Parma. She wanted to build the Regio Theatre in the XIXth century, a very famous opera house, mainly connected with the works by Verdi and featuring a very demanding audience. The residence of the enlightened empress was the Ducal palace, surrounded by a garden that the empress decided to open to citizens.

Nowadays, just a few towns can be proud of such a historical garden where a number of restyling interventions are regularly carried out in order to renovate the original design from the XVIIIth century. Along the Southern edge of the garden the Sanvitale small palace stands out as an interesting example of the Renaissance Architecture. If the Ducal palace was meant to run the power and show its splendour, the fortress, wanted by Pier Luigi Farnese in 1546, had a totally different role: it was a huge military construction stretching on an area of eleven hectares. Regarding the city areas, we must mention the Parma river that crosses the town and separates the monumental area from a more popular district that is called “Oltretorrente” (beyond the river), where Arturo Toscanini was born and where his house was turned into a rich museum rich of memories, objects and curiosities. 

On the other hand, an ecclesiastic landmark is the Certosa of Parma, in the outskirts of the town, whose real name is Certosa di San Girolamo. Nothing has survived to remind the “certosini” monks of 1285 and the church was rebuilt 1722; its interiors feature the best example of figurative illusionism in the town of Parma.

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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