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Ideal autumn getaway at the heart of Italy
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Ideal autumn getaway at the heart of Italy

Bologna, Parma and the whole Emilia-Romagna region are ideal destinations for an autumn getaway.
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Packed with cultural riches, this region also hosts several of this country’s cultural capitals, and all this just a couple of hours direct flight away from Findel. Plus Italy has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.

It’s a hotly disputed crown, but many rank Bologna as the Italy’s culinary capital. Yet this can only be thanks for the city’s ability to draw on the traditions and high-quality ingredients from nearby Parma, Modena and the rest of the Emilia Romagna region. This rich heritage has been brought to the fore by Unesco which has dubbed Parma as a Creative City of Gastronomy, making it the first place to receive this recognition. The town has also been Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2020 and 2021.

Parma
Parma
comune_parma

 Italy’s crossroads

Emilia Romagna offers visitors cultural, artistic and architectural delights, fabulous landscapes with its setting just on the edge of the Apennine mountains, as well as amazing food. It is literally at the crossroads of Italy, linking the north of the country and the rest of Europe with the Adriatic Sea and central and southern Italy. The region’s name originates from the Via Emilia road built by the Romans, which still connects the main cities running from Piacenza in the north west to the coast at Rimini in the south east.

The stopping-off points on this road are bywords for world famous culinary classics. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Parma ham are global benchmarks, as is balsamic vinegar from Modena. You’ll probably know the meat-based sauce Ragù devised in Bologna, but just don’t call it “Bolognese” – the locals won’t be pleased! As well, tortellini, tortelloni, lasagna, and mortadella were all devised first in Emilia-Romagna.

Discover Bologna

If Bologna were in any other country, it would be a globally famous, must-see tourist destination, but in Italy the competition is so fierce from the many great destinations nearby. Visitors to the region’s capital enjoy the charming medieval city with the oldest university in the world. This means the town is both attractive, authentic and lively, as well as boasting numerous fine restaurants.

Bologna’s porticoes are another of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These 40 kilometres of arcades connect the key sites of the extensive medieval city, leading to churches, historical buildings and the distinctive medieval towers. They are also great places to eat and drink all year round. Twelve of these constructions were selected for protection by UNESCO.

Piazza Cavour
Piazza Cavour
Bologna Welcome

 These porticoes have been an important architectural feature since the Middle Ages. As well as offering cover for pedestrians, they were used to expand the upper floors of palaces, homes and workshops as the city grew quickly. So popular did they become that from 1288 the local authorities made their construction mandatory for new buildings. Some are made of wood, others of stone, with several being richly decorated.

Also not to be missed is the Piazza Santo Stefano with its basilica, called “the Seven Churches complex” which includes constructions in good condition dating back to the 6th century. The porticos of Via Zamboni, the University street, are always lively and filled with bustling student life. The porticos of Piazza Cavour and Via Farini are probably the most elegant of all. The Pavaglione portico in Piazza Maggiore is particularly remarkable, and was the city’s financial district in the Middle Ages, hosting bankers and money changers who used to serve travelling business people. Italian flair is also on display at the modernist porticoed building in the Barca district.

Parma’s multiple traditions

Parma is about 100km to the north-west of Bologna, and has always been significant for its proximity to the Po river, making it an important political, economic and cultural hub. These traditions persist, in this multicultural, sophisticated and elegant city which respects the legacy of the past while adding a contemporary twist. It’s a town on a human scale, so is great to explore on foot or by bike.

Via Indipendenza
Via Indipendenza
Bologna Welcome

 There is a lot to explore in a place which has often been named as a capital: in 1815 of the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla; in 2015 of the Italian Food Valley with the UNESCO recognition of Creative City of Gastronomy; and finally in 2018, as Italian Capital of Culture 2020 and 2021.

Art and architectural delights

Parma was the backdrop for much of the most significant work of renaissance master Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio after his place of birth. These include paintings in the Chamber of the Saint Paul monastery, on the domes of the Cathedral and Church of Saint John the Evangelist, and in the National Gallery. The town has other architectural gems, including the Piazza Duomo surrounded by historical palaces and the Baptistery by Benedetto Antelami.

Historical figures made sure to leave their mark. The Farnese family ruled over the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza from 1545 to 1731, and they contributed the Pilotta palace (which now features the National Gallery), the Farnese theatre and the Ducal palace in the monumental park. Later, Duchess Maria Luigia, second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, lived in Parma from 1816 until her death in 1847. Her legacy features palaces, bridges, the Villetta monumental cemetery, the hospital and the Regio theatre. The violets she loved so much became the symbol of the city.

Piazzale Pace
Piazzale Pace
comune_parma

Music is central to the town’s identity. Giuseppe Verdi was born in Roncole Verdi, close to Parma, Arturo Toscanini was born in the historical centre, while Niccolò Paganini lived, worked and is buried here. The Regio theatre with its opera season and the Festival Verdi make this an unmissable place for music lovers, who will also want to take in the Toscanini museum and the House of Music.

Parma is about sight, sounds and perhaps most of all, taste. To see the full range of culinary options, including food experiences and itineraries, visit www.parmacityofgastronomy.it

For more about these sites and the rest of Italy, see the official tourist websiteInstagram page, YouTube channel and Facebook page.   

 


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