December 7, 2022

thecinematravelers

Inspired By Travel

A Fabulous One Day in Parma, Italy: What to See and Eat

Planning to spend one day in Parma, Italy? Is it enough? What can you see in a day in Parma? What do you eat in Parma?

Parma is located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It’s about a one-hour drive from Bologna and two hours from Milan.

If you’re short on time, one day in Parma is enough to see the highlights of this charming city.

This city is home to the cheese we all love and generously sprinkle over our pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano. Although what we buy at home may be a shadow of the real thing.

Parma is also known as Proscuitto di Parma. What’s that, you say? You’ve never heard of Proscuitto di Parma? It’s only the most delicious, thinly sliced ham in the world! You’ll find it all over Parma and Italy. And we found that the Parma ham they served in Emilia Romagna vastly differed from the one we had in Tuscany. We’ll explain more below.

So, yes, you can expect some great food here. But Parma also has a lot of culture and history to offer. It’s a lovely city to walk around with plenty of things to see. We covered a lot during our one day in Parma, during our most recent visit to Italy. We even ate at two fantastic restaurants.

This University city has some stunning architecture and historical landmarks. If you love art, you’ll find several museums to explore. If you enjoy the outdoors, stroll through one of Parma’s parks. You’ll have no trouble filling one day in Parma, Italy.

featured blog image | one day in parma italy

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When deciding our itinerary, it was between visiting the historic city of Parma or going on a tour to learn about Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma ham. We were already given a ton of information about it during our food tours in Modena and Bologna.

With our limited time in Emilia Romagna, it was more important for us to explore the city of Parma than to spend the day at factories. But that is also an option if you have the time to spend. We hear that it is an educational and fun experience.

In this article, we share our one day in Parma. Our day trip to Parma from Modena includes a suggested itinerary and what to eat in Parma, Italy.

As you know, we are foodies, food is always part of our Tasty Itinerary. The food in Italy is also one of the top reasons to visit Italy.

A Day Trip to Parma

A day trip to Parma, Italy, is possible from destinations like Modena, Bologna, and Milan. We took a day trip to Parma from Modena. It’s about a one-hour drive, but you can easily take a 30-minute train ride.

Option 1: Take the Train to Parma

  • Day trip from Modena to Parma is a 30 min train ride one-way.
  • Day trip from Bologna to Parma is a 1 hour train ride one-way.
  • Day trip from Milan to Parma is a 1 hour 20 min train ride one-way.

Book your tickets in advance. Click here for train times and info.

Option 2: Rent a Car

Driving in Italy is not meant for everyone, but it is an option. One that gives you the freedom to explore the small villages and countryside that you otherwise would not have been able to experience.

We rented with Avis during our time in Italy.

Where to park in Parma? There are some parking lots in Parma, we found that Parcheggio Toschi was right by the historic center where we planned to spend our one day in Parma.

Parcheggio Toschi: Viale IV Novembre, 43121 Parma PR, Italy

Option 3: Book a day trip that includes the city of Parma or hire a private car.

One Day in Parma, Italy

What to see in Parma, Italy, in just a day? Here’s our one day in Parma itinerary.

Pro Tip: When planning your one day in Parma is to plan to go on a day when everything is open. If you go on Sunday or Monday, some museums will be closed. So check openings for everything you would like to do.

Start Your Day Visiting Piazza Duomo

woman taking photos in piazza duomo in parma, italy

Parma’s Duomo di Parma is one of the city’s most iconic and treasured landmarks: Duomo di Parma and the Baptistery. The piazza is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. You’ll sometimes find street musicians and performers.

Piazza Duomo | 43121 Parma, Province of Parma | Google Map It

Cattedrale di Parma

Construction on the cathedral began back in 1059 by Bishop Arnoldo. But it wasn’t until centuries later that it was completed in the Romanesque style that you see today after an earthquake destroyed the original structure.

What’s unique about this cathedral is that it has two different facades. The Romanesque one from the 11th century. And then, we see the Gothic facade of the bell tower from the 14th century.

Inside the cathedral, it’s stunning. The artwork and the ornate details are incredible. You have to take a moment to sit down and marvel at it.

Correggio’s fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Make sure to have some euro coins with you so you can turn on the lights to the artwork of the Dome in the back of the church. This artwork is of Correggio’s fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, to which the cathedral is dedicated to.

The Cathedral is closed every day from 12 PM to 3 PM.

Cathedral di Parma | Piazza Duomo, 43121 Parma PR | Google Map It

Battistero di Parma

Battistero di Parma Italy

Next to the Duomo is the Baptistery of Parma, an octagon-shaped building, the exterior made of Verona marble. It was built in 1196 and has three different levels with different artworks. It is quite magnificent and should not be missed.

You could stand there for a good amount of time, reveling in the different paintings and stories being told through the artwork. It’s quite incredible and should not be missed.

We highly recommend buying tickets and entering this beautiful building. Tickets to enter the Baptistery can be purchased in an office across from the Piazza Duomo, located at the Diocesan Museum entrance, Vicolo del Vescovado 3/a. The ticket includes entry to the Diocesan Museum.

The baptistery opens every day from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Bapistery di Parma | Piazza Duomo, 43121 Parma PR | Google Map It

Wonderful Things to Do in Modena, Italy

Looking for things to do in Modena, Italy? This wonderful Italian city in Emilia Romagna is known for its Balsamic Vinegar, Luciano Pavarotti’s birthplace, and the Enzo Ferrari museum. With only a 30-minute train ride from Para, Modena should not to be missed.

Eat Parmigiano Reggiano & Parma Ham in Parma

Whether it’s at lunch or as a snack, while in Parma, you can’t leave without having Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma Ham. These two foods are the city’s most prized foodie exports.

During other food tours in Emilia Romagna, we had our share of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP of different ages. However, we ordered it at lunch, along with Parma ham as an appetizer at La Forchetta at lunchtime.

None of it tastes like anything you buy back home.

You can also visit a local salumeria (delicatessen). There are many throughout the city center. Salumeria Garibaldi came highly recommended to us, but it was closed the day we were there.

You can find Parmigiano Reggiano in different forms, such as a wheel, wedge, or pre-cut portions.

You can also find Parma Ham sold in many forms, such as a whole leg and pre-sliced.

It’s all delicious! And maybe you’ll want to take some home. Make sure it’s vacuum-packed and checked into your luggage when you return home.

Tour Ideas:
Private Half Day Parma Food Walking Tour [book here]

Walk Through Parma’s City Center

Parma is a beautiful, historic city center with plenty of things to see. We recommend taking a stroll and getting lost in the streets. You’ll find that Parma is quite colorful, with plenty of pastel-colored buildings, which surprised us.

You’ll stumble across charming squares, more cathedrals, and local landmarks. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Parma, especially if the weather is nice.

One of our favorite things to do when traveling is to explore a city on foot without a plan. We find that we end up seeing so much more that way. And Parma is the perfect city for that.

Stop by Gelateria K2 for Gelato

gelato shaped flower from k2 gelateria in parma italy

K2 Gelateria is a gelato shop down the street behind the Baptistery, next to another church San Giovanni Evangelista. We were told they have some of the best gelatos in Parma, Italy. The shop only uses local and seasonal ingredients to make their gelato.

The gelato here was delicious, and they served it shaped like a flower, making the visit extra special and unique.

K2 Gelateria | Strada Benedetto Cairoli, 23, 43121 Parma | Google Map It

Foodie Tip: How do you know if it's fresh homemade gelato or factory-made? 

Usually, the gelato is covered with metal lids, or the gelato is kept flat in rectangular containers.

Gelato shops displaying mountains of gelato on top of each other are not homemade. Also, they run the risk of serving you spoiled gelato because the gelato at the mountain's peak is not being rotated out as quickly.

Visit the Chamber of St. Paul

This was an interesting find while walking around Parma. It’s a gem that is not on everyone’s radar and possibly skipped.

It is a small entrance fee and a quick self-guided tour (4 rooms) ; however, if you appreciate history and art, you’ll want to add this place to your one-day in Parma itinerary.

One of the most unexpected things was entering and finding a rendition of The Last Supper, a copy painted by Alessandro Araldi as you enter.

Leonardo Davinci's Last Supper is located in Milan, in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The Camera di San Paolo is one of the most precious historical treasures of Parma. It was painted by one of the great masters of the Italian Renaissance, Antonio da Correggio in 1519. It’s one of his earliest works.

Visit Museo Giordano Ferrari

Right next to the Chamber of St. Paul, in Castello dei Burattini, you can find one of the unique things to do in Parma, Italy, which is Giordano Ferrari’s museum.

Who is Giordano Ferrari? He was one of the world-famous Italian marionette makers during the 18th century. Some of his work is on display in this museum, which is a must for anyone who loves history and puppetry.

It was first started by his far, Italo Ferrari, who staged the first puppet show with his wife. Giordano joined the shows by doing the voice for the puppets at only nine years old. From childhood, he began to create his puppets and style as a child.

The visit to this museum is quick (15 minutes), and it’s free.

We thought this was a pretty cool find.

Giordano Ferrari Museum | Strada Macedonio Melloni, 3\A, 43121 Parma PR | Google Map It

Palazzo della Pilotta

One of the top things to do in Parma and we wanted to do during our one day in Parma was a visit to Teatro Farnese, which is located in Palazzo della Pilotta.

This incredible theatre was one of the first indoor theatres in the world! It dates back to 1618, and it is one of the most beautiful and preserved Baroque theatres. It was designed by one of the leading architects of the day, Giovan Battista Aleotti.

Unfortunately, it was closed on the day we were there. We recommend you add it to this list because you could spend a couple of hours of your one day in Parma at Palazzo della Pilotta. Palazzo della Pilotta houses a number of buildings.

Your entry ticket to Palazzo della Pilotta includes :

Farnese Theater | Piazza della Pilotta, 15, 43121 Parma PR | Google Map It

Take a Stroll Along Parco Ducale

Parma, Italy, has many lovely parks. During your one day in Parma, you’ll want to stroll to Ducale Park, one of the closest parks to the historic center. This park is located near Palazzo della Pilotta.

You’ll have to cross the Ponte Verdi bridge to get to it. When you do and start walking in, you’ll see Palazzo Ducale to your right, also known as Palazzo del Giardino (the Garden Palace). Children were out and playing baseball in front of it.

autumn in parco ducale in parma italy
Autumn in Parco Ducale in Parma, Italy.

Parco Ducale is a large park; autumn was in full swing during our visit. The leaves were changing color, and leaves and chestnuts were scattered across the ground. It was a beautiful sight. It was a peaceful place, full of locals enjoying the beautiful day we were having in October in Italy.

If you are in the park later in the day, during the aperitivo hour, you’ll find an espresso bar in the middle of the park with locals enjoying their late afternoon drinks called daMAT Chiosco. We sat down for sparkling water and espresso while others around us sipped on an Aperol spritz or other local cocktails.

daMAT Chiosco bar in Ducale Park

Note: Google still says that daMAT Chiosco in Ducale Park is temporarily closed, but we were just there, and it is very open. They are closed on Mondays but open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 7:30 pm and Saturday & Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm.

FAQs

Is Parma, Italy, worth visiting?

Parma is definitely worth visiting, even if it is just for a day. Even though it’s a small city, there’s plenty to see and do. We think one day in Parma is the perfect time to explore the city’s highlights and eat a fantastic meal.

How much time do you need in Parma, Italy?

Given that Parma is a small city, one day is more than enough time to explore the highlights. If you want to visit one of the food factories, we suggest adding another day to your trip.

Which is better to visit Parma or Bologna?

We visited Parma and Bologna during this last trip to Italy. While we loved our experiences in both, we’d say that Bologna has more to do and see; it’s a much livelier city. Parma is a smaller city and can easily be explored in one day, whereas Bologna would require at least two to three days, although we only spent a day there.

What is there to do in Parma for free?

Visiting the Piazza Duomo, the Cathedral di Parma, as well as other churches, Museo Giordano Ferrari, walking through the historic streets, and the parks are all free things to do in Parma, Italy.

Parma Foods to Eat

The food in Emilia Romagna, where Parma is located, is some of the best in Italy. This region is widely known for its food culture, and there are foods in Parma you can try if you have the opportunity.

Sometimes, similar dishes are called something different from city to city.

One of the things to do in Parma during your visit is to try one or two of the typical Parma foods.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the world’s most famous cheeses, and it’s made in the city of Parma. It’s a hard cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. And authentic Parmigiano Reggiano is lactose-free.

The difference between the Parmigiano Reggiano you’ll find in Parma and the parmesan cheese you have at home is that one is a true artisan cheese that is regulated and aged between 1 to 3 years. While parmesan cheese is mass-produced, it’s not regulated; typically, the cheese is less than a year old.

You’ll find restaurants using Parmigiano Reggiano in dishes in a variety of ways. Hubby had the most amazing cheese foam over a poached egg and potatoes while in Parma.

Prosciutto di Parma

Regarding meats, prosciutto di Parma is one of the most famous. It’s a dry-cured ham produced in the city and the surrounding area. Like Parmigiano Reggiano, it’s a protected food product with strict guidelines.

You’ll find this cured meat in Parma and all over Italy. However, in Parma, you’ll likely have Prosciutto di Parma produced in the region. Without a doubt, it tasted so different from the prosciutto we had in Tuscany later on it.

It’s often sliced thinly and served as an appetizer with some torta fritta.

Culatello di Zibello

We learned about Culatello di Zibello during our day in Bologna, where the food tour guide introduced us to the best cut of meat from the pig. And you supposedly can ONLY find it either in Parma or surrounding areas. It is not something that is imported.

Culatello is a dry-cured ham made with a pig’s hindquarter. It’s one of the more expensive meats you can purchase, but it’s worth it! The taste is incomparable to any other ham out there.

Although, it did remind me of eating jamón during our trip to Spain.

Torta Fritta

torta fritta from parma italy

Torta Fritta, as it is known in Parma. In Modena, they are called Gnocco Fritto. Pillows of fried flakey dough made of pig fat and then fried in lard. They are quite addicting.

This is a typical food of Emilia Romagna. Pair it with some proscuitto, cheeses, or spreads.

Tortelli

tortelli di zucca in parma italy

The first time we saw Tortelli on the menu, we thought it was a form of tortellini. Only to find out it is what they call a type of ravioli.

You’ll find Tortelli served with different fillings. One of the most comm Tortelli d’erbetta is an egg, ricotta, and spinach filling. Tortelli di Zucca is an autumn favorite that is filled with pumpkin.

Anolini in brodo

Anolini in brodo are tiny ravioli filled with cheese and served in a delicious broth. This is a traditional winter dish in Parma.

Lambrusco

Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine that is produced in the Emilia-Romagna region. It’s a light, fruity wine that perfectly pairs with food from the area.

Where to Eat in Parma, Italy

Finding delicious places to eat somewhere you’re visiting for the first time is sometimes a struggle, especially when you’re just spending one day in Parma. We usually share where we ate so that you can add it to your list, and hopefully, it makes it easier to decide where to eat and make reservations.

We had sit-down meals for lunch and dinner in Parma, Italy. If you’re looking for a delicious, traditional Italian experience in Parma, look no further than Ristorante La Forchetta and Ristorante Gallo d’Oro. Both restaurants offer fantastic food that will leave you wanting more. Be sure to save room for dessert at Gallo d’Oro – it’s worth it!

Ristorante La Forchetta

La Forchetta is in the city center of Parma, not far from Piazza Grande. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating. We visited at lunchtime without reservations, and they kindly sat us outside, but they were full. So if you can make reservations ahead of time, do so.

We started with a primi of Parmigiano Reggiano of 36 months and prosciutto di parma because we could not visit Parma and not have our fill.

We had Tortelli di Zucca and Tortelli d’erbetta as our main meals, and it ix some of the best pasta ravioli we’ve ever had. Both fillings were so fresh and flavorful that you could taste the ingredients without them being overpowered by any sauce or over-seasoning.

The Tortelli was cooked perfectly and tossed in some butter and parmesan. So simple and yet so delicious.

La Forchetta | Borgo S. Biagio, 6/D, 43121 Parma | Google Map It

Ristorante Gallo d’Oro

We came across Gallo d’Oro while reading Lonely Planet and were lucky enough to find reservations on the same day we were in Parma on The Fork app.

Gallo d’Oro remains one of the highlights of restaurants in Emilia Romagna. When we reminisce about the food, he always talks about his meal at this restaurant because it was a culinary experience.

We also recommended this restaurant to a group we met the day after on food tour in Modena. Shockingly, we ran into them again on another food tour in Bologna, the day after that, and they went on and on about the recommendation they took from us and how amazing the food was at Gallo d’Oro.

At Gallo d’Oro their menu has two different kinds of offerings. One is of the classic typical menu items you find around Parma and the region. The other part of their menu has a gourmet side offering elevated dishes using the local ingredients of Parma. The gourmet side piqued our interest.

For starters, if you love truffles, there is a primi that is a poached egg with potatoes covered in a parmesan foam and truffle that was out of this world. Hubby wiped the plate clean.

If you want to stay within the theme of truffles, you can follow that with ravioli stuffed with parmesan cheese and topped with truffles.

brisolona Con Mousse allo Zabaion dessert at Gallo D'oro in Parma Italy

For dessert, you must get “Sbrisolona Con Mousse allo Zabaione,” which was highly recommended by the waiter. The zabaione is an Italian dessert, a sweet cream made from sugar, eggs, and sometimes added liquor. They topped it with local cookies, Sbrisolona. It was marvelous!

Another cool part about this restaurant is its downstairs area. When you visit the restroom, you’ll see the original restaurant and where it all started. While this part of the restaurant wasn’t in use that night, they still host people for dinner in this area on other nights. The waiter was so kind enough to give us a tour of it.

Gallo d’Oro | Borgo della Salina, 3, 43121 Parma | Google Map It

Tip: Download The Fork app before your trip to Italy. It is their version of Open Table and Resy. Just like it is here, you won't find all restaurants, but sometimes it does help in a pinch to get same-day reservations or farther in advance. We successfully found a couple of excellent restaurants here during our travels in Italy. 

One day in Parma, Italy, was enough for us to see some sights, stroll around, and enjoy some of the delicious food this city offers. We hope this one-day itinerary in Parma helps you plan your trip and experience some of the best this city offers.

We wouldn’t recommend making Parma a home base in Emilia Romagna. We think it is worth the time to visit and explore. Not a city that should be easily skipped, but do use caution as you’re about the city.

Have you been to Parma, Italy? What are you looking forward to?

Need more inspiration? Here are Inspiring Quotes About Italy: Your Next Foodie Destination

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