Parma, 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 Italy.

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, or 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.

Also a small round sheild used by the Romans. Twenty to twenty-four inches in diameter, weighing about seven pounds.

The parma equestris was used by Roman cavalry units, the parma was also used by standardbearers and musicians, instead of a scutum, because their standards and instruments required the use of both hands. In their case the parma was an emergency self-defense shield which was carried strapped to their back.

see also:

shield
scutum
clipeus
casca
pavise

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