, a town of about 150.000 inhabitants in Northern Italy
(in the region of Emilia Romagna
Founded by the Romans as a military camp (and you can still
see traces of the original road grid layout), the city
made it fairly well through the Middle Ages, becoming a
major culture center in the Renaissance.
For many centuries it was capital of its own little country,
the Grandduchy of Parma and Piacenza. In 1861 it was
assimilated by the boot-shaped mess that we like to call
Nearby Reggio Emilia (not to be confused with Reggio
Calabria, an altogether different place) was never the capital of anything, since it was part of another statelet. That and the long and bitter wars of yore (yore in this
case being the Middle Ages) have led to a traditional
enmity between the two cities, that manifests itself with
nasty jokes and even nastier fights before, during and after soccer matches.
The annual Parma-Reggio football derby usually has more police than fans in the stadium.
The inhabitants of Parma are called Parmigiani
Parmesans in English.
One of the chief industries in Parma is food. Both
Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano cheese are made only
in the provinces of Parma and Piacenza. Salami is also
very good, the best one coming from the village of Felino, in the hills (almost all pork products and
all the cheese are aged in the hills south of the city,
because of the drier and fresher air).
Noteworthy is also the University of Parma, centuries
old and ridiculously big for such a small place: so big
that it recently got a new campus just out of town. The
architect cleverly interwove a 9-hole golf course with the
university buildings, and no reports of ball-skull collisions have surfaced yet.
The tourist would be well advised to reach Parma by train
(one hour from Milan, one hour from Bologna, maybe four from
Rome), and stay in town a couple of days.