What are the 10 things to do in Parma and its surroundings you can’t miss in 2023? Here are the best attractions selected for you.
When you think of Parma, your mind immediately goes to the cuisine and the richness of Emilian gastronomic products: in fact, this city is also worth a trip for its many cultural and artistic attractions.
Elected Italian Capital of Culture 2020, Parma offers a rich program of events and exhibitions that enhance its historical heritage. Among the unmissable stops are its prestigious theatres, such as the Teatro Regio and the Farnese Theatre, where you can admire opera, ballet and classical and contemporary music concerts.
Parma is also the ideal place for art lovers, who can appreciate the works of artists such as Correggio, Parmigianino and Antelami in its churches and museums, including the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata and the National Gallery.
In this article we will make you discover what are the unmissable things to do in Parma and surroundings, with particular attention to culinary experiences.
Things to do in Parma: 10 must-see attractions to get to know it better
Ph Pixabay by Valter Cirillo
One of the characteristics of Parma is that of being a romantic and evocative city, which retains the charm of its French past under the rule of Maria Luigia of Austria, the second wife of Napoleon. Its influence can be seen in the architecture of the city and in its intimate and refined atmosphere.
Parma is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes and ancient castles that testify to its historical importance as the capital of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza.
Among the attractions not to be forgotten we also have a real icon of Emilian history and custom, the Ferrari: its history is inextricably linked to these territories, and a stop at the Maranello museum is absolutely essential.
But more than anything else Parma is the Italian gastronomic capital: here you can find some of the Italian food excellences that make the nation famous all over the world. You can taste Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano, tortellini, salami accompanied by excellent local wines and discover history and curiosities in dedicated museums.
Parma is a city to savor with all five senses: follow us on this journey to discover the 10 things to do in Parma in 2023.
10. A journey through the history and secrets of the Prancing Horse
Ph Canva by MarcoMarchi
If cars are your passion, you can’t miss the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, a tribute to the racing and road cars of the famous Italian car manufacturer.
Inaugurated in 1990 and renovated in 2011, it is located near the factories and the track of Fiorano and inside, on an area of 2500 square meters, are exposed historical and modern cars, from road and Formula 1, trophies, photos and objects that tell the story of the Scuderia that made Italy famous in the world.
The museum also offers the opportunity to try driving simulators and take a panoramic tour by shuttle inside the factory and the track: there are also temporary and permanent exhibitions dedicated to the history, technology and design of Ferrari.
9. Get lost in a maze of bamboo plants
The Masone Labyrinth is a cultural park located in Fontanellato, in the province of Parma, wanted and built by the publisher and art collector Franco Maria Ricci.
It is the largest labyrinth in the world, consisting of about 200,000 bamboo plants spread over an area of seven hectares to form a maze of plant galleries. At the center of the labyrinth stands a pyramid that houses the art collection of Ricci, with works by artists such as Ligabue, De Chirico and Dali.
The park also offers a library, spaces for temporary exhibitions, cultural events, concerts, a restaurant and a gastronomic shop. The Labyrinth of the Masone has been open to the public since 2015 and is part of the Association of the Castles of the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Pontremoli.
8. Try driving a Ferrari F488 Pista
If you have always dream to drive a Ferrari, do not miss the opportunity to try the F488 Pista, one of the most beautiful and powerful cars of the Prancing Horse: a unique experience for fans of speed, that allows you to drive one of the most desired cars in the world on the road or on the track.
This car has a 720hp twin-turbo V8 engine and its aerodynamics is inspired by Formula 1 cars, features that will allow you to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2.85 seconds and reach a top speed of over 340 km/h.
You can choose between different routes and durations from 10 to 30 minutes, and you will have at your side a professional co-pilot who will give you advice to make the most of the performance of the car. An opportunity not to be missed to get on board not only a beautiful car, but also a real timeless icon.
7. Visit the Oltretorrente Mannerist jewel
The church of Santissima Annunziata, also known as the Basilica del Paradiso, is a minor basilica in Renaissance style, commissioned by the Farnese family in 1566 to celebrate the pacification of the city after conflicts with Emperor Charles V and Pope Julius III.
The architect in charge was Giovan Battista Fornovo, student of Vignola, who designed an elliptical church with ten radial chapels. The façade is decorated with a stucco relief of the Annunciation, a work of 1681 by Giovan Battista Barberini. The interior is rich in works by artists such as Parmigianino, Correggio, Lanfranco, Pontormo, Ghirlandaio and others, among which stands out the altarpiece of the apse with the Madonna with Child and Saints, painted in 1518.
The guided tour will allow you to discover the history and context of the basilica, its artistic and architectural heritage and the Franciscan convent that is part of the religious complex and that houses a library and a museum of sacred art.
6. The museum that tells the story of the prince of salami
If your passion is gastronomy and you want to know more about the history of some excellent local products, the city of Parma and its surroundings offer some interesting museums of food not to be missed.
Let’s start from the Felino Salami Museum, located in the ancient cellars of Felino Castle, a manor dating back to the year 890 A.D. The museum will let you discover the history, culture and gastronomic excellence of what is called the Prince of Salami, Salame di Felino, a typical product of the province of Parma now appreciated all over the world.
The exhibition runs through period images, ancient objects, testimonies and moments of the production technique, from slaughter to seasoning.
5. The ethnographic museum dedicated to the symbol product of Parma
Ph Canva by Mariakray
If you love cheese and want to know in every detail what is considered the "King of cheeses", the Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano in Soragna is the ideal destination for you.
The museum is located in Corte Castellazzi, an ancient castle near the imposing medieval fortress Meli-Lupi, historically used in the production of Parmigiano Reggiano.
The museum will allow you to discover the phases of milk processing, slow maturation and marketing of the cheese and the fundamental role of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium in the protection of quality. You can also admire hundreds of objects and vintage images, literary anthologies and works of art dedicated to Parmigiano Reggiano.
4. The gastronomic museum housed in the Ancient Corte Pallavicina
Ph Canva by Oleksandr Prokopenko
In a food and wine tour in the territory of Parma you can not miss the Culatello. To know its history, tradition and quality, the Culatello Museum in Zibello is the most suitable destination: the museum is located in the Antica Corte Pallavicina, a historical complex that rises on the banks of the Po river in Polesine Parmense, a place immersed in a countryside often shrouded in fog.
The museum will introduce you to the protagonists of the history of Culatello: the territory, the pig, the Consortium of protection, producers and consumers.
You can also visit the cellar where the culatelli are aged and conclude the visit with a tasting of the typical cold cuts of Bassa Parmense.
3. A sensory journey through the aromas and flavours of plants
Ph Canva by Sol Vazquez Cantero
If your passion is the history of medicine, botany and pharmacy, the Tour of herbs, botanical products and spices is the experience for you.
It is a fascinating journey through herbariums, vases and ancient instruments, which will make you discover the dawn of medieval herbal medicine, the development of official pharmacopoeias and the birth of modern botany. The tour includes a guided tour of the ancient Spezieria in the abbey complex of San Giovanni Evangelista, where you can admire the book heritage, the tools and vases used for the preparation of medicines based on medicinal herbs.
The visit continues to the Antica Farmacia San Filippo Neri, re-organized in 1789 and functioning as a galenic laboratory for 177 years, and then to the Botanical Garden of the University of Parma, heir of the seventeenth-century Giardino dei Semplici, where you can explore the rich collection of plants from around the world and the historical herbariums.
2. History and solidarity in Parma: the secrets of the ancient pharmacy
The Ancient Pharmacy di San Filippo Neri is a place of great charm located in the center of Parma in Vicolo San Tiburzio, in the old Palace of Congregazione della Carità.
Founded in 1652 as Charity apothecary, it was intended to provide free medicines and assistance to the needy of the city, at a time when cholera epidemics were frequent.
The pharmacy remained active until the 60s of the last century and still retains today the furnishings, instruments, flasks, recipes and original books of the eighteenth century. His symbol is a pelican who feeds his little ones with his own blood, emblem of sacrifice and love for others.
1. History, culture and flavours in Rocca of Sala Baganza cellars
The Wine Museum in Sala Baganza is a place dedicated to the wine culture and tradition of the province of Parma, located in the charming cellars of the Rocca Sanvitale, an ancient medieval castle.
The museum offers an exhibition and sensory path that tells the history, techniques, products and protagonists of Parma wine, from archaeological origins to modern viticulture: it is divided into six thematic sections that illustrate the aspects related to the cultivation of the vine, the harvest and winemaking, the storage and transport of wine, its presence in art, literature and cuisine.
The museum also houses a rich collection of objects related to the world of wine, such as bottles, instruments, labels, caps, corkscrews and cookbooks.