24 hours in Parma - where to go and what to do
If you are a bit of a foodie – like we are – then Parma is likely to be up there on your list of places to go to whilst visiting Italy..
Everyone likes lashings of parmesan cheese on their pasta right? Whether it is a simple spaghetti bolognaise or a carbonara – us Brits love a flourish of grated parmesan to finish it off.
So now you are in the region where the cheese is made – but do you really know about the finer qualities of all the cheeses? Well – in Parma – you have come to the right place to find out about it all.
Fast Facts from Not Quite North...
a little background on parma...
The ancient city of Parma was founding in 183 BCE by the Romans. Parma is a city that is rich in culture – churches, museums and interesting architecture – it really is a super little city! It is also UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy!
I say little…. it is the second biggest city in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy (Bologna being the biggest) and the largest in the Reggio Emilia region. September is the busiest time to visit because of all the festivals that are taking place.
The opera music festival, world renowned, lasts for 28 days and is dedicated to the local composer and musician Verdi, is spectacular – the opera house is absolultey stunning – so if you want to soak up some Italian opera – this is a must!
If architecture and food is really your thing – then 24 hours in Parma simply isn’t going to be enough! Still – read on and see – it can be a short one week road trip if you link up to other places like we did.
key transport links...
If you want to park in your motorhome – there are plenty of places to park up – but be aware there is the city tax for taking in a vehicle.
- Piazza Del Duomo
- The Duomo du Parma (Cathedral)
- Baptistery of Parma
- Teatro Farnese
- Galleria Nazionale di Parma
- Biblioteca Palatina
- Fondazione Museo Glauco Lombardi
- Parco Ducale
- *Fontanellato Castle
- *Labirinto Del Masone
- *Palace of Colorno
- Cheese Tasting
- Wine Tasting
- Parma Ham Tasting
- 1 Star Michelin Restaurants (x2)
Lets start with your motorhome park up . . .
It is easy to spend some time around this region – but we are doing this in 24 hours remember – so you don’t need to stay on site anywhere.
There is a charge to drive into the city – it is not a congestion charge – just a charge that is in place to stop people from driving into the town unnecessarily and to keep traffic volumes down.
It makes for a nicer place to visit to be honest, with less traffic around.
We came into Parma from the south of the city, because we were coming up from Portofino and there was a decent sized car park which allowed us to park up for the day in a space which was dedicated for a motorhome which was just perfect. It is just off Strada Montanara. Free Parking. We stayed overnight here afterwards before heading on to our next stop. At time of writing there are no facilities, so you need to be self contained if you are going to stay overnight.
parma Itinerary in 24 hours
After you have enjoyed breakfast, the perfect way to kick off your 24 hours in Parma would be to take a bike tour to a cheese tasting in one of the cheese factories in the area. A company called Bike Food Stories offers a great way to see the surrounding countryside by bike and stop off at a cheese factory to do a tasting.
You get to see the whole cheese making process, followed by all the storage of the cheese’s and then finish in the shop where you can try the different aged cheeses with local ‘farmer’ wine (its only 5% ABV) and deliciously fruity. Obviously we left the shop with a kilo of ‘Brown Cow’ cheese (the best one) and a bottle of fruity wine to go with it!
After enjoying your cycle trip and cheese tasting (you cover around 25km of easy riding) you will have worked up an appetite that’s for sure!
For lunch, it would be recommended that you indulge in something local and easy. You have a lot of walking to do this afternoon!
Parma is famous for its pasta, cheese and ham – so a bowl of delicious pasta – the pasta to eat here is tortelli di erbetta, a kind of small ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and herbs, topped with butter and a good helping of parmigiano-reggiano cheese!
Now you have reached your sight seeing part of the day! You will have finished the morning by cycling through the town so you will have an idea of how all the things are put together.
The first 3 items in our must see list are in close proximity so very easy to do. The Baptistery is right next door to The Duomo (Cathedral), which is in the Piazza Del Duomo. The Duomo is the absolute top thing to see – it is free to enter and is breathtaking. I mean, Italy really does know how to do churches and cathedrals. You can see from the pictures how incredible it is.
A recommended place to visit also is the Library – it is breathtaking! We are both book lovers – but again – it is worth a stop and it won’t take long to do.
If you want to fit an art gallery in – now is your time to do it – or you may wish to peruse the historical streets and alleyways and criss-cross the city centre to take in the stunning architecture, stop for a coffee and maybe buy a little bit of ham here and a bit of cheese there as you go round the shops.
Be sure that when you buy your ham or cheese it has the DOP stamp on it to say that it does come from the region and is not something of lower quality which may be sold in Parma – but is not made here. The DOP is a stamp that is given to protected products – much like Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France.
It is likely to be around 6pm by this time – definetly time for a little aperitif if you indulge in a glass of wine or cocktail – or even a beer.
If you want to do the Italian thing – then it must be either a coffee (for those that do not want to drink alcohol) or for those that do – maybe a nice aperol spritz. It really is the Italian cocktail of choice – whichever city you are in!
Having had a lovely day biking in the countryside, tasting the chees, wandering around the streets and getting your aperitif in – its probably either time to get back to the motorhome, clean up and get out again – with 2 Michelin starred restaurants available in the city centre (at a fairly reasonable price) – or go and grab yourself a table for a great big pizza or try more of the delicious pasta dishes that are available.
Try La Greppia (house made risotto and eggplant parmasan), a decade old restaurant serving locals traditional and modern twist dining.
You really will be spoilt for choice on the dining possibilities in Parma – the food capital of the Food Valley!
Video Intro to PARMA
24 hours in parma - DONE!
And that will conclude your 24 hours in Parma – the capital of the foodie region of Italy!
We had a fabulous time there – although the weather wasn’t great – there is so much to do, you could happily spend 3 or 4 days – but if it is part of a road trip where you want to experience the delights possible in the Food Valley of Italy – then this 24 hour Itinerary should nail it for you – covering off key experiences.
You might want to swap the cheese factory tasting for one of Parma Ham instead – or if you really can – stay an extra day and do both!