What to do in Parma in 48 hours

Written by Marcelo Pinto  June 4th 2012

Most tourists who visit Italy are captivated by Rome and the Vatican, and don’t realize there is a whole world of discovery in this beautiful European country if one cares to look for it. Parma, located in northern Italy, is fast becoming a tourist destination, and has been known for years to be a center for art, renaissance architecture, and delectable cheese and ham. Come with me as we explore the various sections of this beautiful city in terms of restaurants, and what to see and do in 48 hours.

 

To begin with, let’s have a look at the various attractions worth visiting.

1. Duomo di Parma

This gorgeous church is a marvel and stands proud as a testament to Romanesque architecture. It was built in the 12th century, and has a stunning collection of frescoes in its interior. Guarded by pink marble stone lions as you walk past its huge doors, you will experience a sense of being taken back into time. Putting a couple of Euros in the offering will cause the ceiling to light up, which in itself is a magnificent spectacle. This is a great way of spending your afternoon in this charming Italian gem of a city.

 

2. Galleria Nazionale

One of Italy’s most prized museums, the Galleria Nazionale hosts a variety of artwork that will delight any art enthusiast. Examples of artists whose works are featured here include Coreggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Parmigianino and Van Dyck.

 

Places to Eat

 

1. Ai due Platani

Known for its delicious proscuitto and tortelli alle erbette, this restaurant is popular with locals and tourists alike. It has a laid-back ambience that is sure to put you at ease as you savor their delicious dishes. While here, be sure to try out the wide homemade pasta with rosemary-infused duck sauce; it is to die for.

 

2. 12 Monaci

This restaurant will leave you breathless and wanting more. Located in Via Rome, its specialty is the veal and homemade pasta, and due to the fact that it is a family-run establishment, it has a homey feel to it. The restaurant was originally a monastery, as is evidenced by the interior. This adds to the restaurant’s ambience, giving it a romantic look and feel.

 

Things to Do

 

1. Teatro Farnese

Built entirely of wood in the 16th century, this theater is a great way of spending the early evening hours admiring the intricate architecture and being bathed in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

 

2. Teatro Regio

Touted as one of the top venues in Italy, the Teatro Regio hosts various operas, and you might be lucky to catch a performance of Verdi’s Opera. Ensure to book your tickets in advance so that you can have a true appreciation of what this opera house has to offer.

 

So there you have it; a list of places to see and things to do. Spend your evenings at some of Parma’s restaurants and get to experience the authentic heart of Italy. The city can be easily accessed from both Bologna and Milan, and is a great destination for those who want something different from the beaten tourist path.

Palazzo del Governatore, Parma

Images from wikipedia

Food Shopping In Parma – A Walking tour in Italy’s Food Valley

If you want to explore the delicacies of Parma you can do this by following our walking guided tours of the town, either on your own or you can hire one of our English speaking guide to take you around and help you with your gourmet shopping. These days there are many deli shops in downtown Parma, and many local producers have opened their own spaces there, so you do not need to travel to the countryside if you want to do some food shopping before heading home.

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Salumerias and high quality Delis are very common in Parma – source

CASA DEL FORMAGGIO

Parma cured meats and cheeses are sold here. As the name says “The House of Cheeses” you already know what to expect.
The shop has a wide selection of the local produces including , Parma ham , Culatello (a type of ham), Salame di Felino (a local mountain salami, very tasty indeed), and rare cold cut like Spalla di San Secondo which is a true pork delicacy.  The shop  also sell many varieties of Parmesan cheese as well cheeses from Italy. In the Pasta department you will find ready to cook tortellini, tortelloni and tagliatelle.

ANTICO FORNO FERRARI

It is a family run bakery which opens only in the morning, you will find many hand crafted speciality bread here. They use white  and wholemeal flours as well as spelt flour, which is supposed to be very good for your digestive system.

Salumeria e gastronomia dall’Olio Mauro

Typical delicatessen in Parma with a wide selection of local cured meats, cheeses, food, and other household items. As you might be expect you will find all best Parma’s Salumi (Italian for cured meats), here you will able to buy Parma ham as well as Parmigiano Reggiano of different ageing. Here you can also buy ready made meals such as lasagne, Tagliatelle, a large selection of cakes and desserts. They also stock more generic items such as ground coffee, milk, dried pasta. water, wine and softdrinks.

L’Angolo Del Parmigiano

The name says it all. Gourmet shoppers will be able to purchase the products that put Parma on the map: ham, salami, cheese and wine. The staff is very approachable and they will be able to advise regarding the various and excellent products that they stock.

Pasticceria D’Azelio.

Your trip to Italy and Parma will not be complete without a trip to the local pasticceria. The store is just minutes from one of the main park in Parma: Parco Ducale.
It is a typical upscale cake shop and here you will be find satisfaction for both sweet and savory gourmet treats. You can savour your snacks outside in the patio and accompany the food with wines and champagnes from the well stocked wine cellar.

Enoteca drogheria Viani

An Italian typical wine and spices shop. Here you will find a wide selection of local and not so local wines including organic beers. The shop also stocks household and general cooking items such as sugar, flour, soaps, detergents, pasta, canned sauces and so on.

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Buy some salami and Parma ham before heading home – source

Culatello ham tour from Parma

Culatello the king of cured meats – how to visit the producers in Italy.

 

Culatello is an Italian cold cut obtained form the best part of the pig: the back legs. The main differences between Parma ham and culatello are the followings: area of production, and the technique of curing the meats..

Culatello and its area of production – Parma province.

This ham is produced north of Parma on the flat lands of Pianura Padana. The huge flat lands that stretch from the Alps to the Apennini mountains in Italy, The PDO area of production is tiny making this product unique, highly sought after and luxurious, notably the towns of production are Busseto, Polesine Parmense, Zibello, Soragna, Roccabianca, San Secondo, Sissa and Colorno. Here the climate is much more humid and foggy than anywhere else in the area. Because of this characteristics it would be impossible to cure the ham on the bone as we would do for the Parma ham. Therefore with culatello the bone is removed to obtain 2 cuts, the main one culatello (literally the little ass) and the fiocchetto which is the inner muscle of the leg. The ingredients are just freshly slaughtered meat, salt and pepper.

How culatello is cured – the brick cellars.

Culatello requires humid brick cellars that are in the basement of buildings. The ham is then placed in a natural casing (pig bladder), tied and rubbed with salt and pepper only, also the meat need to reach the producer quickly from the moment of the slaughter  to keep the bacterial load low, which helps to cure the meat without the use of artificial preservatives. Culatello will spend at least 12 months in these traditional cellars before being inspected by  the experts of the consortium of Culatello di Zibello. The product is examined  with a wooden mallet checking for potential defects.

Parma ham VS Culatello of Zibello.

Is one better than the other? Well there will be a lot of debate if we say so. In short they are 2 different produces. Parma ham has a very sweet taste and it is cured with very little salt however it is produced on a larger scale with a larger output while still maintaining the consortium high quality. Culatello remains a niche gourmet product still made by a handful producers with methods that track back to their grand fathers or sometimes their grand grand fathers. Culatello is also more difficult to obtain and it is more labour intensive than Parma ham. Finally culatello has a more elegant, fragrant, structured and prolonged flavour than Parma ham. It is drier in texture and more savoury and the taste keeps flowing as you chew it.

The final product – how to prepare it.

When finally becomes the so acclaimed gourmet products (it can cost up to 70 euros a kg), the meats are bright red with nice marbling of fat, which enhance the delicate savoury taste. In order to eat the ham, you will need to prepare it. You will need to remove the strings used to tie it, and soak it in wine for a few hours. This will help to remove easily the bladder . Once this is done you will have to slice it very thinly. A slicing machine gives the best results.

How to eat Culatello di Zibello.

Culatello it is a great appetiser, and it would go with a glass of Fortana del Taro wine, or Malvasia and why not with a nice glass or Lambrusco. As part of your appetiser dish you can also add some shaving of Parmesan and few drops of balsamic vinegar of Modena or Reggio Emilia.

 How to visit a culatello producers in Parma.

Emilia Delizia can organise a culatello English guided tour, from Parma as part of our gourmet tours in Italy. We can pick you up from your hotel or meet you at a designated location. Our tours will always include a detailed visit and a generous final tasting. Don’t forget that this experience can be mixed with the Parmesan production, wine tours and balsamic vinegar production and cookery experiences.

 Culatello making classes – Culinary experiences in Parma

For those interested in a hands on approach, we organise culatello ham curing techniques. Our highly trained master curer will show you how the make the precious ham. The typical class will last one morning and the participants will learn how to prepare, cure, and tie the meat according the ancient Italian tradition. Your product will be aged in the cellars and it can be sent to you when it is ready.

Cualtello tasting visits with cycling along the Po’ River.

The Po’ river has a lot to offer, in terms of gastronomic adventures that can be combined with cycling tours departing from Parma with destination Cremona, of course with the use of river boats. The Po’ also has a network of cycling paths touching many producers of culatello.

Parma ham tour – A visit to a prosciutto factory in the gourmet food capital of Italy

The Parma ham tour – Prosciutto di Parma – producer tour Emilia Romagna.

Emilia Delizia as part our our culinary tours will take you to Langhirano to visit one of the Parma ham producers. Prosciutto di Parma is traditionally cured on the bone, and the ingredients are, pork leg, salt, the right climate conditions and the patience and the ability of the master salter. We will visit the production facility in details and we will learn about each step of the production.

Our clients learn how Parma ham is made during the tours.

To make Parma ham only the  back leg of Italian born and risen heavy pigs are used. The animal are fed according the strict diet of the consortium that is aslo supplemented  with cheese whey coming for the production of Parmigiano Reggiano. The legs are sent to Langhirano in the province of Parma to become the famous Parma ham. The curing process starts immediately and the meat is salted once and stored in refrigerated cells for 5 days. Here the meat will lose water  and absorb the salt. Then the meat is washed and salted again for a second time and placed in a even colder cell, at this stage the temperature is just above the freezing point.  The ham makers use as little salt as possible to obtain a sweet cure that makes the Parma ham famous worldwide.

The pre-ageing phase will last for about 100 days, then the legs will be “manicured” to turn them into the classic pear shaped Parma hams, in other words all excess meat, fat and bone are trimmed off. From here onwards the hams will stay in the curing cellars until they are 12 months old. Each ham will be inspected by the consortium for approval by using a needle of horse bone. The probe is inserted in the 5 critical points where the meat might go wrong. The inspector probe each point and as he extract the needle he smells the tip. If they are approved they will receive the five star crown emblem of the Duchy of Parma, and then they become the world wide famous cured meat that we all know.

Emilia Delizia and Prosciutto factory tour in Parma.

Emilia Delizia will be pleased to take you to the producers in Parma, this tour can be part of our full day 3 gourmet food tour in Italy. Guests normally start their journey in Parma, Modena or Bologna. We can organise a self drive tour or a chauffeured one with English speaking guide and gourmet lunch. Our lunch is a sumptuous one, a 3 course meal that includes generous tasting of cured meats including Parma ham form the factory we just visited. The meal will continue with Tortelli alla Parmigiana (stuffed egg pasta), home made desserts. Coffee and digestive liquors.

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prosciutto di Parma facotry tour in Parma Italy