Parma: A pocket guide
Parma, lying between Piacenza and Bologna, is known for its school of painting, its cheese, its ham, and its violets. The first of its famous perfumes were made by monks on the orders of Napoleon’s second wife, Maria, duchess of Parma. Opening its doors just under 100 years ago in Parma, Acqua di Parma launched with a single fragrance that is reputed to be the first real Italian cologne.
The city is also known for its afternoon light. The streets of Parma have been described as “looking as if they’ve been dipped in honey” because much of the town is sepia-colored. Its most famous sights are the medieval duomo; the campanile and the Baptistery, built from pink and white marble in the thirteenth century; and the Teatro Farnese, a Renaissance jewel of a theater bombed during WWII and entirely reconstructed to its original form. The Galleria Nazionale houses some of the most famous paintings of the Parma school, as well as of Leonardo and El Greco. Paganini and Toscanini are also sons of Parma, and just outside Parma is the birthplace of Verdi; his villa and the Teatro Verdi can also be seen.