Parma ItalyThe charming town of Parma is well known for its architecture, history and hams. It was named after the circular shields which were used by the founding Etruscans. The city has a fine collection of architectural masterpieces including churches, several grand palaces, museums and a botanical garden which is maintained by the University of Parma.
The Romanesque Cathedral is known for its wonderful fresco by Antonio da Correggio, which adorns the cupola, and the 12th century sculpture by Benedetto Antelami. It has loggia floors and fabulous sculpted doors. The belfry stands beside the Cathedral alongside the octagonal Baptistery building. The frescoes and paintings which adorn the Duomo are quite breathtaking.
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The Benedictine Monastery of San Paolo was built in the 11th century and houses some valuable frescoes which are also the work of Correggio. The cloistered Church of St John the Evangelist is noted for its library of 15th and 16th century books and also has some wonderful frescoes by Parmigianino and Correggio.
The Academy of Fine Arts is now housed in the Palazzo della Pilotta, along with the National Gallery, the Archeological Museum and the Bodoni museum which are well worth visiting. The beautiful Ducal Palace is also an important attraction in Parma, along with the Ducal Park which are pleasant French-style gardens.
Strolling around the ancient city you will see the Cittadella Fortress and the old city walls nearby. The Pons Lapidis is an actual Roman Bridge and the city opera house is known as the Teatro Regio. Music lovers may wish to visit the Museum and former home of Arturo Toscanini, the famous musical conductor.
Finally, remember to buy some Prosciutto or Parma ham and some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as authentic souvenirs of a happy day spent in Parma!
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