Parma, Northern Italy
15 May 2012
|We had a nice week in Parma. It, like most Italian cities had plenty of beautiful churches, galleries and museums as well as a couple of splendid theatres.
With a population of about 178,000 it is a very vibrant and clean city. With the university here, there are plenty of young people as well. And on the one night we went out late, we found everyone very well behaved while having fun...unlike the gold coast.!
Parma is famous for its food and rich gastronomical tradition. Parmigiano cheese and Prosciutto (Palma Ham) are from this area. Its big in food tourism and my plan when I chose to go there was to do day tours to the various interesting food related industrys. Theres the Modena Balsamic vinegar factory, rice farms, the palma ham plant, small cheese factorys etc etc in the area…..oh, and the Ferrari museum.
Unfortunately its not really a tourist town, so no day tours are run.(Mostly on the big coach tour operator itinerys) You could hire your own guide if you had a car, however the drivers licence went with the wallet in Rome so we can’t hire a rental car till the new one arrives. Of course I could hire one…but I think not. Italians drive like they’re all motor racing drivers!
So instead, we turned cultural, and visited museums, art galleries and a quite wonderful historic library. We did a 1 hour tour of a gorgeous 19th C opera house (unfortunately completely in Italian, but it was the only way we could get in!) The Regio theatre is all red and gold and totally lavish.. We also visited the Farnese theatre, built totally in timber in 1618. They made the stage work so complicated, it was actually only used 9 times! The last time back in the 1800’s ! (it was almost totally destroyed in the war and has been rebuilt as original, except they didn’t redo the frescoes; whats there are the originals.)
We had a great apartment which as usual had no english TV, it also had no DVD or internet and the mobile broadband stick we bought, wouldn’t work on the side of the river we were on ??? Couldn’t work that out, but used to cross the river to the other side of town to do whatever we needed to do online.
So our apartment was on the main street amongst all the shops, bars and cafes and oposite a large medieval hospital. It was at the back of the building, so we didn’t get street noise….however there was a little unassuming bar/café down the pedestrian sidestreet our apartment looked out to, which was, unfortunely for us, very popular and on a couple of nights the music thumped till the early hours! Thank goodness we had earplugs at the ready.!
The big earthquake hit about 100 kms from us. The bed shook in the night, but our town didn’t suffer any damage from what I could see. In fact we didn’t hear about it till our friends emailed us about it. We subseqently saw the pictures on the telly.
So I’m writing this as we are back on the trains heading to Germany. Tonight we go as far as Basel in Switzerland. About a 7 hour day on the trains. Lovely sunny day but the window is filthy, so can’t see the scenery! Change trains in Milan and again in Zurich, so hope for cleaner windows there!