Parma is a champion of sustainable development. With a vibrant pedestrian center, the city is alive with chatty students, swanning hipsters, buskers and a billion bikes. Cars keep their distance and compete for parking outside the centro — life the way it should be. What took us so long to get here?
Art & Soul
We roam the16th century Palazzo Pilotta. Wander its light-filled spaces and savor the collection in its national gallery and works by local painterly legends like Correggio and Parmegianino.
Gorgeous! Head of a Young African in marble and volcanic basalt. Stunning.
Don’t miss the pompous, portly busts of Ranuccio II Farnese by Bernini. Glory in his royal puffiness! Rejoice in his royal paunch!
Palazzo Pilotta includes a magnificent library. The Driver is impressed. “These book are real,” he says. And they are, hundreds and hundreds. Religious paintings and Farnese family portraits glow and dazzle.
On The Boards
Spectacular golden light — we’re wowed by the palazzo’s soaring Teatro Farnese. Yes, the theater is all wood, built in the 17th century. The space is magical.
Swoon at the sight of this elegant, exquisite DaVinci.
In an attempt to remember why we’re here, we cruise the fashionable Borgo Tomassini, an eclectic alley with Parisian mojo. An installation of dozens of mirrors reflects the euros changing hands below.
“Babol” pink is everywhere, along with several shades of smeraldo green; tangerine, periwinkle and poppy.
Looks like 50 Shades of Happy for 2022 / 23. Can’t hurt.
Window shopping makes us hungry. We spot Cardinal Bar, lively and full of locals. The Tortelli Parmigiana is rich and unctuous, under a rough handful of famous formaggio. A loaded salumi plate is a savory knockout. With a lightly sparkling local red, life is delizioso here in Parma.
Hotel Villa Ducale, just outside the centro, is a great place to refresh, stock up on shampoo, and enjoy a dynamite breakfast. Bonus: Villa Ducale is surrounded by athletic fields. The Driver is ecstatic. He catches a spectacular roughneck rout — Italy vs. British women’s rugby. He is still glowing.
We rest, recharge and hone our carpe diem skills in this lovely spot before heading to Como, the last stop on our 50-day odyssey.
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Post-Script: Love in Bloom
One of Parma’s most famous residents is composer Giuseppe Verdi. There are Verdi festivals, Verdi roads and bridges, and dozens of grand sculptures. In Parma, I chat with the old boy daily via magic telephone. We canoodle in secluded piazzas. We tell each other everything. Love is definitely in the air.
Giuseppe is dashing, devilishly handsome and technologically savvy. Scan the code and listen to his beautiful, sonorous voice.