Lively and bustling streets criss-cross Parma’s Romanesque architecture and pastel-hued buildings. Its status as a university city is to thank for this, but we’re not here for class. No, we’re here for the food.
Because of its location in the center of the fertile Po Valley, in north central Italy, the Emilia Romagna region has been the country’s foodie capital for centuries. Parma in particular, became the epicenter of this gastronomical powerhouse due to its production of world class and world famous eats. Most notably, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma ham. Along with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from nearby Modena, these products can only be made in this specific part of Italy, and therefore the world. And although you can find cheap imitations from other places, they are definitely not the same. Trust us.
As we pass through the last peaks of the Apennine Mountains, the landscape flattens and the road straightens. With only a day and a half in Parma, we head straight for the city center to meet with hotel partners and explore the city’s endless food shops, cafes, and the occasional historical monument. In addition to all the meat and cheese, Parma is home to an incredible 12th century cathedral and neighboring Baptistery, considered by many to be one of the best in Europe. While not a stranger to tourism, Parma is far less visited than Italy’s major cities, resulting in a local energy on the city streets. We stroll the pedestrian-only center, through one piazza after another, popping into a cafe for an afternoon caffe macchiato, and peering through pasta shop windows as locals prepare fresh tortelli, anolini and tagliatelle. Early evenings are all about aperitivi in Parma, and we snack on chunks of 30 month Parmigiano Reggiano drizzled with balsamic vinegar, fresh figs, green olives, and potato chips, while sipping Aperol Spritzes.
After a full day of walking, eating, and gawking at the amazing food, pastel piazzas and historic landmarks, we’re feeling very excited for our visit to Parma in next year’s Italian Origins small-group journey. It’s rare to find a small city with such cool energy, incredible food, and wonderful history. Parma, and the entire Emilia Romagna region has managed to stay wonderfully authentic over the years, shaping its own path and bending the arch of tourism toward its most important characteristics. In a city that feels real, with amazing regional food, history and lively energy, we’re counting the days until we return next September.
Travel with us to Parma!
A travel design agency.
Follow us on Instagram @CohicaTravel