FACTOID: Parma was an important city in the Middle Ages and was known for its Romanesque art. From 1550 to 1859 it was a small city state. It is now known for its Parma ham and Parmesan cheese.
For the weekend of the Beatification of Pope John Paul they expected 1 - 2 million visitors in Rome. The King and Queen decided to get out of town. Someone who worked in Hynda's lab from Italy was now living in Milan so we decided to go to Milan and Parma for the weekend. We would actually spend our nights in Parma and then take the train to Milan for the day. It is only about an hour by train between the two.
On the way to Parma we had to change trains in Bologna. The Queen waits for the next train.
The hotel we selected was only a short walk from the train station in Parma. In the hotel lobby was the day's paper with a headline about drug arrests in the city the day before!!!
One of the many stores stocked with Parma ham…
..and this one stocked with Parmesan cheese.
The not very impressive Parma River bisects the city.
The city is very bike friendly and everyone was on bikes.
Parma was a walled city and was surrounded by citadels on the walls. Only one exists and this is the Queen at the entrance. It is now a public park.
This is the Teatro Regio which is one of the world's leading Opera houses. We could not go inside because it is not open everyday and we were there on the wrong day.
The Palazzo della Pilotta was built in the 16th century by Duke Farnese. It was huge and today contains the Farnese Theater, the Palatine Library and a fine arts museum. This photo is taken from across the Parma River.
In the 17th century the Farnese Theater was the largest covered theater in Europe. In May of 1944 the theater was completely ruined in a bombing attack by the allies. It was rebuilt in 1956 but none of the wood is original… the dimensions of the theater were kept. This is a view of the stage.
It is all wooden.
The museum had some interesting pieces. In this first painting these folks appear to be placing a baby in a tub of acid as the lower part of the baby is just bones.
In this painting, one man in the background appears to be cutting off his foot at the ankle.
The King in front of the synagogue in Parma built in 1866. This was the year the Jews returned to Parma after being expelled 200 years before. Today there are about 20 Jewish families in Parma.
The Palatine Library in Parma housed a lot of the items from the synagogue during the World War II and it now has the largest collection of Hebrew manuscripts in Italy and the second largest in the world after a library at Oxford.. The King is at the entrance to the library and we did see an exhibit that included a number of Hebrew manuscripts including some very old Passover Hagadahs.
Giuseppe Verdi, one of the greatest composers, was born near Parma and there is a Verdi Festival each year. This monument just outside the Palazzo della Pilotta is the Verdi Monument.
We had dinner in Parma two nights and for the first time on one of our trips we went to the same restaurant twice. Prior to going to Parma we had checked out Trip advisor and had a list of a number of places that ranked high. In our walking around we passed by a few and then decided to go to the one that was ranked #1 by Trip Advisor. It was called Trattoria del Tribunale and was not the most expensive one on the list. The King had the special ravioli and caramelized onions.
At the exit to the restaurant they had a machine that tested the alcohol on your breath. They were required by law to use the machine on anyone who was leaving who appeared to be drunk.
Parma has it share of churches. The most prominent is the Duomo di Parma. It was undergoing repairs.
Built in the 12th century it was huge.
There were many interesting frescoes and paintings. The most famous one is by Correggio of the Assumption on the cupola but it was being repaired. We liked this one. Maybe this one should be titled Bette Middler at the Continental Baths.
Frescoes lined every wall of the cathedral.
In the same square as the Duomo was the Baptistery. This was also built in the 12th century.
The church of Santa Maria della Steccata was built in the 16th century. It contains the tombs of over 20 member of the Farnese family, at one time one of the most prominent families in Italy.
This is one of the many restaurants that serve horse.
The Queen admires an enormous egg. This must have been left over from Easter.
The Municipal building in the center of Parma had a huge sundial that showed times in different places of the world, the season, the new moon and also the present time.
This was a market in Parma. There is a fellow on Martha's Vineyard that rented a room to Dana when she lived on the vineyard and we took this picture to send to him.
This store on a shopping pedestrian street in Parma put up spikes on the windows. At first we assumed it was for birds but then we realized they did not want people sitting on the window sill.
The Queen sits at a table on one of the pedestrian streets where we stopped to get a tea and pastry. The tower in the background is the 11th century Monastery of San Paolo.
What would an Italian town be without a strike or a demonstration? This first photo is the police in the back of the demonstration.
.. and this is the front of the demonstration. We had no idea what it was about.
Lunch was in a lovely square in the center of Parma.
A Pringles dispenser??
There was a large park on the other side of the river with lots of people walking, biking and running.
This is the Palazzo Ducale located in the Parco Ducale. It was built for the Duke Ottavio Farnese in the 16th century.