A little while ago I was asked about which cities I have been to in Italy, and it was clear they didn’t mean the usual big cities (Roma, Milano, Venezia, Napoli… etc.). As I started going through them in my mind, I realized I had seen quite a bit of this country. At the time, I had properly visited (been to at least one town/city not just passed through) 9 of the 20 Regions of Italy. Considering I had been to the two most difficult to reach, Sicilia and Sardegna, I figured I would attempt to visit all 20 regions.
As of this past Sunday I finally made it to my 10th Region, Emilia-Romagna which is in the northern part of Italy below Lombardia and Veneto. I am half way there but the road is still a long one ahead, especially since I am pretty much missing all of the east coast of Italy.
So far I have been to (In the order I visited):
I am still missing (Alphabetically):
- Friuli-Venezia Giulia
- Trentino-Alto Adige
- Valle d’Aosta
To cross Emilia-Romagna off my list, my friend and I went to Parma together. We started the day by taking the train from Milano to Parma, which took about an hour and a half, and arrived around 10:00. We then walked to the city center, and while walking did some quick google searched to see what we should visit. We knew Parma wasn’t a very big city but we quickly found there wasn’t a whole lot there touristy and the day would be spent more absorbing the atmosphere of Parma.
Our first stop was the Duomo and and Baptistry of Parma. The Duomo was free but in order to get into the Baptistry we needed to buy a ticket for 8 Euro but it included an audio guide with access to the Baptistry, Duomo, and a Museum. Before buying our tickets we took a quick look at the inside of the Duomo, and then went for a coffee overlooking the Piazza. It was an incredibly relaxing morning and very Italian. After our coffee break we returned and bought our tickets and picked up our audio guides to explore the buildings further. What was most interesting about the Baptistry was that the outside had a regular looking roof (see above picture) but the inside had a dome. The audio guide did a great job at explaining every painting, statue, and features of the buildings. After over 2 hours of information both of us were tired of the explanations and decided to move onto the next thing… Lunch!
Parma is of course known for Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma, and likewise Emilia-Romagna is famous for its food throughout the world. So I of course had to try some of the products. We tried to find the most reasonably priced place that served local food and came across a spot near Piazza Garibaldi. We ordered a board of meats that included Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigianno Reggiano that was served with a marmalade of sorts, and then some fried dough to go with the offering. Under the conciliation of my friend who is Italian, I tried the Parmigiano plain, with the marmalade, and then with the balsamic vinegar (which is also famous in this region). Now I have had these things before in the states and in Italy, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that trying the products in the town it originated from cannot possibly be compared. The taste was so magical and diverse from the times I have tried it before.
After Lunch was over, around 3:30, we took a leisurely walk back to the train station to catch the afternoon train back to Milano. Parma was a really nice short trip, I hope I can return to Emilia-Romagna to explore some more of the cities but until then its on to the next travel adventure.