Check out what to see on a weekend in Parma: a complete guide to visiti the city between Friday, Saturday and Sunday tasting history, music and arts.

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Are you looking for the right destination to visit for an alternative weekend? Don't worry, we have the ideal solution for you: Parma! This splendid and serene Emilian town, built on a human scale and far from the overly hectic logic of large metropolises, is the perfect choice for those who want to treat themselves to a short quiet trip of a couple of days, without giving up the pleasure of discovery.

In fact, despite its small size, Parma is a truly eclectic center of notable interest in the expression of Italian excellence. Former Italian capital of culture, city of music and theatre, city of arts, Unesco creative city for gastronomy, the trip that’s made for you, looking for a full immersion in history, beauty and taste, is a weekend in Parma!

What to see on a weekend in Parma: discovering the 'little Paris'

What to see on a weekend in Parma

Here we are ready to set off to 'little Paris' and discover together what to see on a weekend in Parma! Follow our complete itinerary, which will guide you day by day during your trip to the city, accompanying you throughout the weekend among its wonders, its history and above all its taste, of which Bottega Barilla - one of the most beautiful stages in our tour! - is an icon of Italian excellence and tradition.

Where does the comparison between Parma and the Ville Lumière come from? Well, the two cities really share a lot in common. First of all, from a geographical point of view they are both crossed by a river (on one side the Seine, on the other the namesake stream) which, with mastery and precision, divides the heart of the urban center into a rive gauche - Parma’s Oltretorrente, a fantastic district that we will discover together - and a rive droite, that is the magical historic center of the town.

But that’s not all. Just like the beautiful French capital, Parma has an immense cultural heritage waiting to be discovered too, welcoming tourists in a little big temple of Italianity where getting involved in the energy of music, the passion of theater and the delicacy of art. So, be ready: your weekend in Parma begins!

What to see on a weekend in Parma: greeting the city on Friday evening

Of course, our guide for the weekend in Parma begins right away from your arrival in the city, on Friday evening. How about taking a first exploratory walk in the historic centre, illuminated by the mix of natural colors of the sunset with the artificial light of the street lamps, to begin getting acquainted with the atmosphere?

Give yourself all the time you want to wander around the main streets, squares, alleys and historic buildings in the heart of Parma, without a specific destination in mind, but at the same time experiencing all the adrenaline of curiosity and desire to discover new places.

What is unmissable in this first greeting to the city? We absolutely recommend the Teatro Regio! This elegant and refined 1800s building, located in the central Strada Giuseppe Garibaldi, encloses within its walls one of the most important opera and traditional theaters in Italy, where illustrious artists like Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballé and Luciano Pavarotti performed. This enchanting cult place for music and opera, among the stages that host the Verdi Festival (Giuseppe Verdi) every year in October, is closely linked to the masterly work of the famous Maestro from Busseto, as well as to other very important figures in history of Italian music such as Arturo Toscanini and Niccolò Paganini.

Teatro Regio of Parma also gives visitors the possibility of enjoying guided tours in Italian and English (last available on Friday, 5:30 pm) to discover all its magic, visiting its internal chambers in an approximately 30 minutes lasting plan.

Weekend in Parma: Saturday’s itinerary

What a wonder the Teatro Regio, isn’t it? And after this wonderful dive into the legend of music and opera, here we are ready to face the first full day of your weekend in Parma together.

Our Saturday's itinerary will take us right away to discover Bottega Barilla, a true temple of pasta where began an Italian story of international success, which today allows everybody to rediscover all the quality of a world where tradition and innovation blend each other bringing Italian excellence to the world.

In the afternoon the journey continues, exploring the most iconic beauties of the historic center of Parma with a fantastic guided tour, where you will also be able to meet the evocative statue of Maestro Giuseppe Verdi, sitting and resting on a bench in Piazzetta San Francesco. In the evening, for an end with a bang, we will move to the Parma's rive gauche to discover the fascinating Oltretorrente neighborhood.

Saturday morning at Bottega Barilla, the temple of pasta

As promised, after having had a good breakfast and taken a look at the city illuminated by the sunlight, we head towards the first stage on our daily itinerary: Bottega Barilla 1877.

We're in the historic pasta shop of Pietro Barilla, the place where in 1877 began the story of the most famous pasta brand in the world located in Strada della Repubblica, 88 in the centre of Parma, opened again in a contemporary key in 2022 as an innovative space to tribute pasta and the entrepreneurial adventure of the Barilla family.

From a simple shop, after almost 150 years of passion and ambition, today Barilla pasta is among the most purchased, tasted and above all loved throughout the world. What’s the secret of this big success? Certainly the great quality of the brand, but above all the brilliant capability of combining tradition and innovation in harmony, two dimensions that often are absolutely distant.

Visiting Bottega Barilla on your weekend in Parma is a truly unmissable experience to immerse yourself in the emotion, the pleasure, and above all the taste of discovering the wonders of pasta, perhaps the most iconic Italian product.

Let yourself get involved in a true journey between past and future of pasta, to be discovered through the immersive and interactive experience of Bottega Barilla. Here, just like in Pietro Barilla's time, you can purchase many different types of pasta and numerous branded merchandising gadgets (even in limited editions).

But, above all, you can join into a multi-sensory adventure where the innovation of pasta is the undisputed protagonist, a 360° journey discovering pasta, from the choice of high quality raw materials to the great attention to the production of an excellent international product.

In Bottega Barilla you will stimulate your sense of sight, with the artistic installations enhanced by augmented reality dedicated to the processing of wheat and the production of pasta; your sense of touch, perceiving by your own hand the unique roughness of the new Barilla pasta; and even your sense of hearing, thanks to a fantastic ASMR experience created with a sampling of sounds that retrace all the moments of the production and preparation of pasta. But, a true temple of pasta wouldn't be the same without stimulating also your sense of smell and your taste.

How? Get ready for new and evocative sensory experiences designed to enrich the special events organized by Bottega Barilla, enjoying the scent of the refined mix of fine grains of the new pasta specialties and discovering how to make the most of them with the amazing recipes created in the kitchen-laboratory by the expert hands of the best chefs.

Complete your visit to Bottega Barilla by trying the Rugosimetro, a special tool for measuring the roughness of pasta, and discovering more about the many die plates, each one more elaborate and extraordinary than the last, which shape your favorite pasta formats. Get ready to experience this fantastic journey in the world of pasta, the best Saturday morning ever!

Find out more about Barilla

Saturday afternoon through the wonders of the historic centre

After lunch, in the pleasant and relaxing quiet of the early afternoon, our journey to discover the yellow & blue city continues with an exciting guided walking tour of the historic centre of Parma.

Get ready to explore all the wonderful places that characterize the core of the city's history, which has always been a very important cultural center among the oldest university sites (some historical sources even date it back to before year 1000). The tour starts from Piazza Garibaldi, where you can admire the monument dedicated to the so-called Hero of the Two Worlds and the majestic Palazzo del Governatore, an iconic place for national and international artistic exhibitions.

Discover the main monuments of the city together with your guide, listening with fascination and attention to the stories and tales of Parma. Another essential stage in the historic centre is Piazza della Steccata, with the monument dedicated to Parmigianino, and a little further on the sumptuous churches of Santa Maria della Steccata and Sant'Alessandro on Strada Garibaldi. Going one, you will cross your path again with the beautiful Teatro Regio and then the large Piazza della Pace.

But the best is yet to come. Deep in the historic centre of Parma, visit the elegant Piazza del Duomo where you can discover the wonder of the Cathedral of Parma, an incredible medieval church full of works of art with a spectacular dome frescoed by Correggio, and the Baptistery of Parma, an enchanting Gothic style building made of pink marble embellished by a set of medieval bas-reliefs of great value.

To complete your visit to the historic centre of Parma, discover two other truly evocative ancient churches: the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, right behind the Duomo, and continuing further on, the Sanctuary of San Francesco in the small namesake square, where you can relax for a while on a comfortable bench in the company of the statue of Giuseppe Verdi.

Book now your guided tour to the historic centre of Parma

Saturday evening to Oltretorrente

Weekend in Parma: Oltretorrente

What better way to spend a Saturday evening in Parma? Obviously it's time to visit Oltretorrente, one of the most beautiful and oldest popular neighborhoods in the city!

Oltretorrente for Parma is like a true Paris’s rive gauche, reachable by crossing the river in particular from the bridges Ponte di Mezzo or Ponte Giuseppe Verdi. We suggest this second option, which will lead you from the monumental Palazzo della Pilotta (don't worry, we will visit it tomorrow!) to the gates of the Parco Ducale, the largest and most elegant urban park in Parma.

Created by will of the Farnese dukes in the middle of 1500s as a large and luxurious garden of the Duke’s Villa (which can be visited inside the park), today "the garden", as the citizens call it, is one of the most popular places for a relaxing walk between nature and art. In fact, crossing its large avenues framed by the greenery of different species of trees, you will be able to admire the beauty of numerous sculptures and temples inspired by classic arts, as well as the evocative Trianon Fountain located in the center of the park's lake.

After visiting the park, perhaps under the romantic light of the sunset, explore the rest of the neighborhood and discover all its cultural attractions. In fact, in Oltretorrente there are the House-Museum of Toscanini, the beautiful Church of the Santissima Annunziata and the Ospedale Vecchio: the latter is a Renaissance structure with a large front portico, initially the headquarter of the city hospital (as suggested by its name) and today house to public libraries and cultural archives.

What a beauty this Saturday in Parma, eh? After visiting all these fantastic places, it's time to relax with a nice dinner and maybe a drink; don't worry, here in Oltretorrente you will find many restaurants and pubs where you can spend the evening with taste and lightheartedness!

Weekend in Parma: Sunday’s itinerary

Here we are, ready for the second full day of your weekend in Parma, a new adventure full of emotions to experience in the city from morning to evening.

Our Sunday's itinerary will focus especially on the pleasure of discovery and, more precisely, on the extraordinary experience of enjoying art and culture that Parma offers its visitors.

In the morning we will visit the Pilotta Monumental Complex, or simply Palazzo della Pilotta, a huge historic building which houses within its walls some of the most beautiful and fascinating places of culture in Parma, a perfect stage for a Sunday morning.

In the afternoon, get ready for a fascinating journey on the trail of the medicine of the past, discovering an ancient pharmacy from the late 1700s in the middle of the city. In the evening, your trip to Parma will end with a renewed dive into culture, choosing your favorite artistic and cultural exhibitions from the very rich museum offering of the historic centre.

Sunday morning in the monumental culture of Pilotta

Weekend in Parma: Palazzo Pilotta

It is now Sunday morning, and we are ready to discover the first stage on our daily itinerary in Parma: we head to discover Palazzo della Pilotta, an architectural complex of great historical and cultural importance located in the centre of Parma, next to Piazza della Pace.

It was built between the 1500s and 1600s at the behest of the Farnese family, who made it their own official residence within the town. Today, a few centuries later, La Pilotta is a true symbol of the richness of the Italian heritage, capable of attracting tens of thousands of visitors thanks to its incredible treasures.

In fact, in its numerous environments, La Pilotta hosts cultural institutions of great prestige, including the National Archaeological Museum, the National Gallery (with a vast collection of artistic masterpieces by Correggio and Parmigianino) and the Bodoni Museum (dedicated to the history of printing and typography). But that's not all, because within these ancient walls you can also visit the majestic Farnese Theatre, a magnificent 1600s wooden theater among the largest and most spectacular in Europe, and the historic Palatine Library, with its very rich book heritage of over 800,000 volumes.

Could you ask for more? Don't miss the chance to venture into the monumental culture of La Pilotta, a true jewel not to be missed for those who visit Parma and are hungry for beauty and will to be amazed!

Sunday afternoon on the trail of the medicine of the past

After an exciting journey into the timeless culture and art of the Pilotta, on Sunday afternoon another fantastic adventure awaits us dedicated, instead, to the discovery of the scientific and pharmaceutical world, exploring the ancient pharmacy of San Filippo Neri.

It is a historic laboratory dating back to the end of the 1700s, located in the centre of Parma a few steps from the University, where time stood still among archaic work tools, elegant glass test tubes and mystical fragrances of pharmaceutical recipes, now forgotten in time.

A real journey on the trail of the medicine of the past, where you can be enchanted by these chambers that smell of the scent of medicinal herbs and the amazing stories that these walls could tell. Click on the button below to find out how to visit the ancient pharmacy and the "Florilegium" on a guided tour to retrace the history of medicine and health!

Book now your guided visit to the ancient pharmacy San Filippo Neri

Sunday evening of amazement exploring museums

It's Sunday evening and this weekend in Parma is coming to an end, but that just means it's time to make the most of the last few hours here in the town before back home! Our suggestion? A nice walk through the centre of Parma discovering its beautiful and iconic museums.

The yellow & blue city boasts a very rich museum offering to satisfy the curiosity and tastes of all tourists, with some truly unmissable collections and works of art. Let's discover together the museums to visit in Parma between late afternoon and early evening, each with its closing time.

Not far from the San Filippo Neri pharmacy there are first of all the APE Museum, an innovative museum center where arts, performances and events cross their paths (closes at 5.30 pm) and the Sant'Andrea Art Gallery (closes at 7 pm). Further on, in front of Piazza della Pace, there is the Glauco Lombardi Museum Foundation with 1800s collections and historical antiquities from royal families (closes at 7 pm).

Entering the heart of the historic centre there are the "Giordano Ferrari" Puppet Museum (closes at 6.30 pm), the Stuard Art Gallery (closes at 6.30 pm) and the wonderful Camera della Badessa or Camera di San Paolo, a completely frescoed chamber dating back at the beginning of 1500s inside a former Benedictine monastery (closes at 6.30 pm).

For the most passionate lovers of music, an art in which Parma boasts an international acknowledgment, around Piazzetta San Francesco there are the Opera Museum, the House of Music and the House of Sound (they close at 6 pm), places to be discovered to experience from a closer perspective the history - and the stories - of this iconic discipline for the city's heritage.

Parma and gastronomy: passion, pasta and delicacies from the Food Valley

Parma and gastronomy: pasta and delicacies from the Food Valley

This itinerary enjoying a fantastic weekend in Parma was truly full of emotions and adventures, wasn’t it? Before leaving the city, however, it is right and proper to pay homage to the great excellence and quality of Parma's food producers, who have rightfully became legend of the national and international food universe.

Parma and its province, in fact, represent the beating heart of the Food Valley, a land where food is much more than simple nourishment, becoming instead a symbol of creativity and culture for entire generations. Among the most famous and loved Parma products in the world, and obviously also among the specialties of Italian cuisine and gastronomy, the ham Prosciutto di Parma DOP and the cheese Parmigiano Reggiano DOP absolutely deserve a special mention.

But there is also another product that here, in Parma and its surroundings, has made the history of the food industry: pasta! Homeland of Barilla, one of the major pasta brands in the world, in the heart of the Food Valley this product highlights its italianity even more, so much so that became a true museum art: in fact, did you know that in Collecchio, just 15 minutes by train from Parma, is there a museum dedicated to the most iconic Italian food product? Well, now all you have to do is visit it and dive into the wonderful world of made in Italy food!

Visit the Pasta Museum in Collecchio

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