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Home » Tourist guide » Ducal city


Teatro Regio

This theatre, famous for its ties to Verdi's operas and its enthusiastic and demanding audiences, was commissioned by Maria Luigia and constructed between 1821 and 1829 according to the plans of Nicola Bettoli, on a site near the Benedictine abbey of S. Alessandro. It has a neoclassic façade, formed by an architrave portico supported by ten Ionic granite columns surmounted by a double row of windows. In the middle is a circular window flanked by two bas-reliefs depicting "Fame" created by sculptor Tommaso Bandini, and a triangular tympanum with the Lyre in the centre. The decorations of the interior are the work of Girolamo Magnani, while the ceiling and outer curtain were painted by Gian Battista Borghesi. This theatre, one of the most important and famous music shrines in Italy and much-feared "testing ground" for opera singers, was inaugurated on May 16, 1829 with the opera Zaira, composed by Vincenzo Bellini for the occasion.


Museo Glauco Lombardi

This museum owes its existence to the collecting activity and erudition of its founder, Glauco Lombardi, whose name it bears. Housed in the ornately-stuccoed rooms of the 18th-century Palazzo di Riserva (1961), its permanent collection includes works and curios of particular interest from 18th and 19th century Parma. In the midst of numerous other portraits in the main hall, the "Corbeille Nuziale", executed in 1810 to one of Prud'hon's drawings and given to Maria Luigia by Napoleon, occupies a position of honour. The watercolours of Naudin and other masters, Benigno Bossi's engravings based on drawings by Petitot and Paolo Toschi, and the collection of 18th-century French and Parmesan paintings, are especially int. Construction of this enormous and unfinished complex, located in the heart of the city, began in the second half of the 16th century under the auspices of Ranuccio I. Its name, Pilotta, refers to the Basque game of “pelota” that was played in one of its courtyards,The Palace consists of a series of vast, interconnecting structures that enclose large courtyards or small courts. Iits architects include Giovanni Boscoli, Francesco Paciotto, and Simone Moschino, who was the artificer, among other things, of the monumental grand staircase with three flights covered by an imposing octagonal dome.The Farnese palace, whose construction proceeded over many years, was not built to be a residence, but rather to house the services required by court and state including stables, barns, armouries, theatre and barracks. In fact, it was these structures that formed the original nucleus of the great bodies created during the first half of the 19th century and which are still housed in the building: the Galleria Nazionale (1822), the Museo d'Antichità and the Biblioteca Palatina (1834).

Palazzo della Pilotta

The immense, unfinished complex, which is named after pelota, the Basque handball game that was once played in one of its courtyards, was built for Ranuccio I in the city's centre beginning in the second half of the XVI century.
Ph: © Amoretti Fotografo
Included among the architects of the structure, which is characterised by its large communicating sections, huge courtyards and small courts, are Giovanni Boscoli, Francesco Paciotto and Simone Moschino. The latter designed, among other things, the monumental grand staircase consisting of three flights and covered by an imposing octagonal dome.
Ph: © Glamour
The Farnese palace, which was built over a number of years, was not intended to have a residential function. Instead, it was built to house the services of the court and state, including stables, barns, armouries, the theatre and the barracks. These important buildings were the original nucleus of the great institutions that rose up during the first half of the XIX century and still occupy the building today: the National Gallery (1822) the Historical Museum and the Palatine Library (1834).

Museo Archeologico Nazionale

The National Archaeological Museum was founded as the Museo Ducale d'Antichità in 1760 by Don Filippo di Borbone to house the artefacts uncovered during excavations at Veleia, a flourishing Roman municipality in the Piacenza hills that had been the urban centre of a vast mountain territory. When the dukedom passed under French rule, it was stripped of its most prestigious pieces, which were only returned following  the Congress of Vienna. The institute was assigned its current home by Maria Luigia and, in the second half of the 19th century. its patrimony was further expanded to include one of the most substantial prehistoric collections in northern Italy. The museum is still responsible for coordinating archaeological research and preservation in the provinces of Parma and Piacenza.


Galleria Nazionale

The National Gallery, with its extensive collection of important works, many by renowned artists, numbers among the leading art galleries in Italy. Its collection includes paintings from the 13th to the 19th century, representing not only the major Italian schools and currents, but also examples of Flemish, Dutch, Spanish and French painting. Of key importance are the paintings from the Parmesan and Emilian school from the 15th to the 18th century.The core of this important collection was formed by paintings from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) and the collecting activity of the Bourbons and was later enlarged in the post-Napoleonic period and through acquisition of numerous private collections that risked being divided.The Gallery is entered via an imposing wooden portal surmounted by the ducal coat of arms. It is a surprise to find oneself in front of the Teatro Farnese, one of the most impressive and fascinating historical theatres in the world, which forms the spectacular foyer of the Gallery.The Gallery has been part of the Italian national gallery system since 1945.

Il Teatro Farnese

The Farnese Theatre – a magnificent structure and sublime example of the great theatrical tradition  of the Po Valley courts – is situated on the first floor of the Palazzo della Pilotta. It was commissioned by Ranuccio I  to pay homage to Cosimo II De' Medici with a theatrical production worthy of the duke, during his stay in Parma while on his way to Milan.This journey never took place, and the theatre, built in what was originally the vast armoury of the Palazzo della Pilotta, was inaugurated only in 1628, for the sumptuous wedding between Margherita De' Medici, daughter of Cosimo II, and duke Odoardo Farnese.It was conceived  and built by G.B. Aleotti who designed a large semi-oval cavea with 14 steps surmounted by two tiers of loggias placed on top of “serliane”, the first Doric and the second Ionic. This seating structure, inserted in an exceptionally large space (22m high, 87m long and 32m wide), is topped with a gallery. The theatre was constructed using materials that were not very durable (wood, plaster, straw and rags) so, when it fell into disuse following the last performance in 1732, it continued to deteriorate until it was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing in May 1944. It was rebuilt in the 1950s according to the original plans and using the same materials, but its rich trompe l'oeil decorations have never been completely restored.


Biblioteca Palatina

The Palatine Library was built in 1761 by Filippo di Borbone and opened to the public in 1769. It houses a collection of 700,000 volumes, 6,000 manuscripts, 3,000 incunabula, 70,000 autographs and a patrimony of over 50,000 wood and copper engravings many of which are extremely rare. The library opens onto imposing galleries by the French architect, E. Petitot. The first, with a caisson vault, retains the carved walnut wood shelves, The second is a sinopia by Correggio depicting the “Incoronata”, while the third is known as the Sala di Dante (The Dante Room) because of its scenes from the Divine Comedy. The monumental reading room, added in 1834, has decorations in Neo-Classical style and a large herma of Maria Luigia.

Museo Bodoni

The Bodoni Museum is annexed to the Biblioteca Palatina and is dedicated to the work of Gianbattista Bodoni, who managed the Royal Printing Works in Parma in 1768. Bodoni was also the inventor of new type faces and under his management the Printing Works became a typographic centre of international fame. This museum displays the tools of Bodoni's craft: over 80,000 original pieces, with punches, dies, presses, vices, type cases, characters, flourishes, printing samples and equipment for melting lead.The complete collection of the work carried out under Bodoni, including numerous rare editions, is kept in the archive.

Palazzo Ducale

This vast, 20-hectare green area with its centuries-old trees is a rare example of a princely park. It was created in 1561 by Duke Ottavio, enlarged during the 18th century and, under the rule of Maria Luigia,  took on a French appearance. The greatest architects, sculptors and painters of the period took part in the works, including J.B. Boudard, E. Petitot, Vignola, B. Bossi, Jacopo Bertoja and Agostino Carracci.Situated inside the park are the old "Palazzo Ducale" or the "Giardino”, the "Palazzotto Eucherio Sanvitale" and a number of modern buildings for public and cultural activity. The Ducal Palace, currently occupied by the Headquarters of the Carabinieri, is also used for exhibitions and cultural events.Of particular note are the beautiful Arcadia thicket with the remains of a small temple, and a lake surrounding  the Trianon Fountain from the Palazzo Ducale in Colorno.


La Casa della Musica - the House of Music

La Casa della Musica (the House of Music), located in Renaissence building Palazzo Cusani in the heart of the town, a few minutes, walk from the cathedral, can be considered the main centre of research and filing according to music studies.
La Casa della Musica is the seat of the most important musical Intitutions in town: Historical Archive of the Regio Theatre, the International Research Center of Music Periodicals and Musicology Department (University of Parma). La Casa della Musica gives the opportunity to approach the ever increasing audiovisual and documental music heritage in Parma with the help of advanced computer facilities placed at users‚ disposal in the Multimedia Library, where a great and precious collection of CDs, VHSs and DVDs are treasured. The exhibition "Opera on stage. Tour in Parma's Theatre History of Music" is particulary interensting as it takes the history of Parma as a model to outline the musical Theatre's general evolution from the 17th Century to the present.


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