Parma travel guide

Parma is the capital of the province of the same name in the Emilia Romagna region. Its biggest attractions are the Cathedral and the Palazzo Ducale, but the city is even more famous for Parma ham and parmigiano reggiano.

All about Parma

Tourist information

Tourist office

The tourist information office of Parma is called Iat R Ufficio informazione e accoglienza turistica. The address is Piazza Garibaldi, 1. Telephone: +39 0521218889. Opening hours: From 09.00 to 19.00. They provide free maps and brochures of sights and events. Tours can also be booked there.

Covid update

During the Covid crisis the Certosa di Parma, the Museo Bodoniano, the Palazzo Ducale and the Spezieria San Giovanni are closed.

Tourist tax Parma

Like most major cities, Parma also has a tourist tax. For 4- and 5-star hotels, this is 3.50 Euro per person per night. For a 3-star hotel, this is 2 Euro per person per night. Guests in 1- and 2-star hotels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds pay 1 Euro per person per night. The tourist tax is only for the first five nights. Children under 12 pay nothing.

What to see

Piazza Duomo Parma
Piazza Duomo

Main squares are the Piazza Duomo, the Piazza Garibaldi and the Piazza della Pace.

The biggest attractions are the cathedral, which was originally built in the 11th century. Other religious buildings include the Baptistry, the San Giovanni Evangelista Church, the Santa Maria della Staccata Church, the Santissima Annunziata Church, and of course the Certosa.

The most famous historical buildings are the Palazzo Ducale and the Palazzo della Pilotta. The Parco Ducale is now a public park.

A brief history of Parma

The first settlement on the site dates back to the Bronze Age. The inhabitants then were Etruscans and Celtic Boii. The latter tribe settled in the Po Valley in the 4th century BC after getting the Romans to pay a sum of money to be left alone. Until the 2nd century BC, the Boii remained a louse in the fur of the Romans.

After the Boii were defeated by Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica in 191 BC, they lost a lot of their territory. In 183 BC the settlement became a Roman colony and, thanks to its location, an important trading center.

After the Barbarian invasions, the city was conquered successively by the Byzantines, the Lombards and, in the 6th century, the Franks.

In 1062, the bishop of Parma, Pietro Cadalus, was appointed counterpope. As Honorius II, he even managed to occupy the Vatican, but he had the politicians against him and was soon ousted.

In 1167, Parma joined the Lombard League in the fight against Barbarossa.

During the late Middle Ages, there were squabbles within the city between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines.

Later, Parma first passed into French hands before becoming the property of the Church.

In 1545 Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese) named Parma and Piacenza together as a duchy, which he then gave to his son Pier Luigi to govern.

In 1731 the Farnese dynasty died out. Charles of Bourbon and, several years later, his brother Philip, took over.

In the early 19th century Parma was assigned to Napoleon’s wife Maria Luisa.

In 1847 the Bourbons retook power, but in 1860 Parma became part of the new kingdom of Italy.

At present, Parma is one of the best-run and most prosperous cities in the Country.

Parma, Emilia Romagna