2020 is going to put Parma on the radar for both domestic and international travellers. The city that gave us Parmesan Cheese, Giuseppe Verdi and Parma Ham was nominated Italy’s Capital of Culture, taking the torch from Matera. This will prompt over 500 events and exhibitions, and make Parma a must-see destination – which, to us, it always was. This often underrated gem of Emilia Romagna, with its stunning architecture, relaxed atmosphere and mouth-watering cuisine is one of our favourite incentive destinations. One hour away from Milan by train, it is the ideal choice for a leisure weekend or team-building day in the middle of a hectic business trip or after visiting a trade show. Here’s a quick guide to the main events that will take place in Parma in 2020.
Parma unveiled: historic buildings open to the public for the first time
Parma’s newly acquired status as European capital is partly connected to the restoration and re-opening to the public of a series of historic buildings, that will be accessible for the first time in years – sometimes decades. Among these, the medieval complex of the Ospedale Vecchio, a XIV Century building that has undergone major restoration work, the Church of St. Francis – a XV Century church that was converted into a prison during the Napoleonic era, and the old Monastery of St. Paul, which is set to becoming a food&beverage museum.
Culture beats time
“Culture Beats Time” is this year’s city slogan, affirming its unique identity and setting the way forward for Parma’s tenure as Italy’s Capital of Culture. This multi-layered concept reflects the city’s multi-layered history and manifold identity, which visitors are encouraged to discover. Parma bears traces of the various stages in its history, traces that come together into a complex and beautiful story, that can only be told by multiple voices. The Archaeological Museum contains artifacts dating back to the city’s Roman and Etruscan colonisations, the aforementioned monastery and St. John’s church contain masterpieces of the Renaissance, and the city’s famous theatre is a paragon of neoclassical beauty.
Food is culture
The year-long celebrations of Parma’s culture and identity will engage local companies and local producers, as well as museums and cultural institutions. And the reasons for that are deeper than one might be tempted to think. In Emilia Romagna in general – and in Parma in particular – is a vital part of the culture. There are history, poetry, and meaning in its products, in its cheeses and wines, in its cured meats, in its recipes and traditions. And, of course, visitors expect and hope to experience Parmesan cuisine to the fullest. Producers of local delicacies will open their facilities to the public, offering guided tours and tastings, which will combine the pleasure of excellent food and wine with the joy of learning about their history, the way they are made, and how they evolved through the ages.
If you want your visit to be unique – and if you want to turn it into a charming team-building experience for your employees – we suggest you book a cycling tour of the city, which will allow you to explore in a way that no other means of transportation can. From the Citadel – a XVI Century fortress – to the Renaissance charm of Piazza Garibaldi, from the magnificent park at Palazzo Ducale to the medieval Basilica of Santa Maria Della Steccata, you can take it all in and experience it from a local’s point of view.