Saturday morning we took an hour and a half train trip through developed countryside to Parma. This was our first time in a compartment-style train cabin, and we were both in a middle seat facing each other. Thankfully the seats were relatively comfortable and the woman near the window didn’t talk on her phone the entire time.
Upon arrival we decided to walk down to a view of the Parma river, then across the Ponte Verdi to Parco Ducale. Lots of people were enjoying the sunny spring Saturday in the park.
From the corner of the park we saw church spires and decided to find their source. This old part of town was fairly quiet had some interesting winding streets. We stopped for a few sweet treats at a pastry shop and then wound our way through a market at the foot of the Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata church where Leandra picked up a bottle of Barbera red wine for 3 euros.
After the market we went back across the river on the Ponte de Mezzo and down Via Giuseppi Mazzini, which was lined with shops and surprisingly crowded with people. We took a quick break in Piazza Garibaldi to eat our sweets in the shadow of the statue, and agreed both desserts were likely spiked with rum.
From there we wandered down to the main Parma Cathedral but didn’t see an entrance. By the time we found the office it was 10 minutes to close, so we skipped it in favor of lunch (and resting our feet) at La Forchetta.
We didn’t have a reservation but they managed to find a table for us anyway. [sidenote: it’s always amusing to see dogs in a proper restaurant – a common occurrence in Italy, and one we wish were more common at home.] This was our main meal in Parma so we tried to order local. To start, we ordered a bottle of the famous lambrusco sparkling, though the rose version rather than red, which was very nice. I ordered the risotto with local Parmesan cheese cooked al dente which was just as rich and delicious as it sounds. Leandra focused on the famous meats of the region, ordering the parma ham appetizer culatello, prosciutto made from the fillet cut of the ham. Very good but she wasn’t sure it was worth the premium price.
After our long lunch we headed south to explore the pedestrian Via Farina. Since it was almost 3pm many shops were closing up for the afternoon (and would presumably reopen around 7 or 8). We continued walking down to the citadel park to people watch for a bit and enjoy some of the gardens and residences.
A day in the sun wouldn’t be complete without gelato, so we walked back toward the cathedral and the relatively uncrowded K2. Leandra ordered the nutella and I had the minty chocolate chip. Ordering in English was a bit dicey, but Leandra managed to catch the woman before I wound up with the wrong flavor! Both were proper gelato, very tasty and rich. From there we went back along Via Farina to purchase several bottles of lambrusco to bring home – 11 Euros for both – from La Prosciutteria. The various meats were also tempting but ultimately passed over given our short stay.
Tired from all our walking we made our way back to the train station and eventually to Milan, quite happy that we had the chance to spend the day in lovely Parma.