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The city of Parma is located in north central Italy, mid-way between Milan and Bologna. With a population of 170,000, this city is nestled in the fertile valley of the Po River in the heart of the richest of all Italian provinces, the Emilia-Romagna. Parma is a place with a rich history and culture that radiates far beyond the boundaries of its city limits. Giuseppe Verdi was born nearby in Roncole and Arturo Toascanini was a native of Parma. While it is an urban centre, Parma is also surrounded by beautiful countryside, with nearby green hills, fertile valleys, seasonal flowers and many vineyards.

Other important parts of Parma include the Old San Giovanni Pharmacy, Steccata's Church, the Camera di San Paolo, the Duke's Palace & Park and the Regio Theatre. One of Parma's most important cultural sites is the Pilotta which is steeped in history and now home to the Toschi Institute of Art. It also houses the Palatina Library, the National Archaeological Museum, the Farnese theatre, the Bodoni Museum and the National Gallery.

If you wish to travel away from the city, then between the Po river and the Apennine mountains south of Parma lie a series of incredibly well preserved castles that are well worth a visit. The best of these is called Torrechiara. The castle is almost unchanged since the 15th century, when it was built upon the ruins of a fortress house 80 metres above the valley floor. This is also the main production area for Parma hams (almost all are produced here) as well as Parmigiano cheese and Colli di Parma wines.

Must See in Parma

The city's 12th century Cathedral or Duomo, whose magnificent frescoed dome was painted Correggio, is flanked by a 13th century Gothic bell tower and a beautiful Parma pink marble baptistery.

Events in Parma

CIBUS-May biannually: This is one of Italy's largest food trade fairs and gives the visitor a change to taste examples of Italy's finest foods including the local specialities of Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Verdi Festival: May - June annually. Parma celebrates its most famous citizen, Giuseppe Verdi, with a two month-long festival of operas and concerts. The programme varies from year to year with some of the worlds most famous orchestras and conductors performing.

Festival del Prosciutto di Parma: Early September Annually. This celebrates the region's most famous export , Parma Ham. There a plenty of opportunities for tasting and learning how the delicacy is made.

The Palio de Parma: originating in 1314, is a mid-September medieval tournament with races, historic processions and flag bearer competitions.