Parma is a beautiful city located in the centre-north of Italy, famous among Italians for its central role in the food industry. Every one knows Parma ham in the world, as well as the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and these are only two of the important contributions of this city to the Italian food culture. The region in which Parma is nested (Emilia-Romagna) gave birth to masterpieces of Italian cuisine such as lasagna, tortellini, and piadine just to name a few. Hence, you cannot come to Parma to see a game against Zebre and miss out on the great food, drinks, experiences, attractions and landmarks that this city has to offer. My name is Vincenzo and I am a local. Together with Matteo (carborugby founder and editor), in this guide we’ll prepare for you all you need to know to maximise your experience in this city while still being able to enjoy the rugby game you’ve come for.
Getting to Parma
If you’re coming, it is highly likely that you’ll fly to Bologna or Milano, which means you’ll have some more road to cover to get to Parma. If you’re getting there by train, then it won’t be hard to move around the city once you get there. However, if you rented a car, you may want to know where it is best to park it to avoid chaos and narrow Italian streets. The best car parking are located in Viale Mentana and Viale Fratti, largo Paul Harris and viale san Michele. The “blue” parking spots normally cost 1,2€ / hour but they’re free on the weekend and bank holidays, which hence likely on the day of the game. In the following map you can easily find these locations marked in red.
Getting to the stadium
from the train station
The Sergio Lanfranchi stadium is just about 2 km far from the train station, and it is well-connected with public transports. It is possible to walk to the stadium directly (ca. 25 mins) or to use the city’s bike-sharing service to reach it. If you choose to go by bus, you will need to walk to the -1 floor of the train station (underground) and hop on the Bus 7 direction Parcheggio Nord. During the week there is a ride every 15 minutes, while on the weekend the rides are a bit less frequent. Tickets can be purchased directly on board with credit card and cost just 1.5€. If you have a DOTT or a TIER sharing account you can easily unlock an e-scooter and reach the stadium in just 5 minutes. To reach the stadium exit the station left, then enter Via Trento, and stay on it until you see the stadium. Keep in mind that neither of these options will take you through any of the good sides of the city of Parma: for that you’d have to go the other way.
The stadium is very close to Parma’s Autostrada (highway) exit. From the exit gate you only need to follow directions to the train station, the stadium will be on the right side of the street, about 2 km downstream the highway exit. There is a parking lot in front of the stadium and it isn’t too complicated to find a spot there, but in the worst-case scenario you can also park in the parking lot of the shopping center in front of it. The shopping center closes at 21:00, and the parking lot closes along with it, so be careful not to park there if the game is at night.
Food & drinks: go where the locals go
AT THE STADIUM
Eating inside the stadium is not an experience worth remembering. It is definitely worth to pay a visit to the clubhouse of one of the local rugby clubs: Amatori Rugby Parma. It is located just 10 metres before the stadium’s ticket office on the right. You’ll know when you get there, let the grilled meat scent guide you. A sandwich and a beer cost about 10 €.
ON THE WAY TO THE STADIUM
If you want to grab something to eat on your way to the game, one of the best options you have is to stop at Noodles & Sushi, a sit-in and take-away japanese restaurant. It is quite cheap and totally worth the price. All dishes are cooked at the moment, my favourite is their noodles. Something to eat and a beer will cost you between 7€ and 12€.
IN THE CITY
One of the best suggestions we can give you is to save your hunger for when you’re in the city centre. Parma has so much good food to offer, and it would be a pity to waste your appetite on something you can get anywhere in the world. For example, if before or after the game you decide to grab a bite in the city centre, there’s plenty of choice including traditional local food. Here’s a shortlist of restaurants that we’d like to suggest you, all relatively close:
- Trattoria Corrieri. This is a traditional place, by all means. For their kitchen, their service, their food, their offer, and the atmosphere. There’s even an old Fiat 500 parked in front of it. On of its perks is that it stays open continuously from midday (12:00 PM) to midnight (12:00 AM), so it could be a life-saving pinpoint on your map. A suggestion from Vincenzo is to try their fried quiche with local salami and their trio of tortelli. If you’re still hungry after that, and you feel brave, you can try a local delicacy that may scare many: horse pesto. In northern Italy horse meat is typically eaten in the most refined places, and Parma makes no exception. In this case, this pesto is made of ground horse meat served raw: delicious. Suggested wine is local Lambrusco (red) or Malvasìa, and the overall price should be around 30-35€.
- Enoteca Fontana. This place is almost institutional in Parma, if you want to grab a drink. Quite on the cheap side, it offers you seats outside on the street or standing inside. They have any kind of wine, from 1,5€ a glass up to the most expensive ones, and their sandwiches are great. My favourite is the Principe, which comes with the two local masterpieces Parma ham and Parmigiano cheese. They also have a room inside where you’ll be able to sit down and have some tortelli or some appetizers. If you grab a drink and a snack it will cost you around 10€.
- Walter – la clinica del panino. What’s better than an ice-cold beer and a fat sandwich? For that, you must visit Walter. There you’ll find at least 50 different types of sandwich which all cost about 4-5€ and a 0.5L beer on top of that will add about 4€.
- Pepèn. This place is in any street food guide whenever Parma is in the guide. Exceptional sandwiches, great food. We have some suggestions for you: first of all, the Spacca Balle (“ball breaker”) sandwich, but also the Primavera con tonno (tuna). Moreover, he suggests to try the place’s specialty: the Carciòfa, a pizza filled with cheese and artichokes. Sandwiches cost about 6€ and you will eat them outside, standing.
- Ciacco. This is one of Italy’s finest artesanal ice cream parlours. They are featured in almost any Italian food guide or ice cream maker rankings, and have recently opened a branch where there used to be an old shop.
Staying longer? Don’t miss out on this
Parma is a great touristic destination, with or without rugby. In fact, most people will visit Parma regardless of it, considering its high value in terms of history, food and wine.
streets and squares
The most representative element of the city centre is perhaps its main square, Piazza Garibaldi. Here, among other things, you’ll also find the touristic information office (IAT) where you’ll be able to get ahold of lots of important information on the city, as well as ideas on what to visit. From the main square you’ll easily reach any of the important monuments, churches and squares that you may want to see, so it’s a good starting point. Piazza Garibaldi is famous for its numerous bars with outside space and for the statue dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi, the historical figure guiding the Italian unification in the 19th century.
From the main square you could walk down Via Farini, the main pedestrian street, or Strada Cavour, which is the shopping street. If you feel like walking, we suggest you to take Via Nazario Sauro, famous for its antiques and modern art shops. Moreover, consider having a walk in borgo Giacomo Tommasini, a street which is always well-decorated and colourful.
If you’re more into 50s/60s architecture and residential districts, the oltretorrente district is what you’re looking for. Cross the river and you’ll find yourself amidst small houses and small squares, which feels very much like a small town, in a good way. Vincenzo suggests to walk down Via D’Azeglio starting from Piazza Corridoni, reaching Piazzale Inzani and then coming back to the city centre through Parco Ducale, a local big park with an artificial lake.
Finally, as in any Italian city, also in Parma you’ll find plenty of religious architecture. The best two pieces in Parma are the Duomo (dome) and the Battistero (baptistery). They lie in the same square, piazza Duomo. The dome’s masterpiece is the cupola with Correggio‘s important fresco representing the Assumption of the Virgin. The baptistery has an octagonal shape built with pink marble and a grand interior decoration. Entrance to the dome is free of charge, but visiting the baptistery will cost you 12€.
museums and art
There’s many museums to see in Parma. The most important is perhaps the Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta, a museum complex which includes the Archeology Museum, the old Teatro Farnese, and the National Gallery, which exhibits several key paintings of Italian renaissance, including those of Parmigianino and Leonardo da Vinci. A ticket to all these museums is only 12€.
Another interesting museum is the Pinacoteca Stuart, which is an ex-private collection turned public and freely accessible. The only catch is that it closes early (17:30) so you’ll have to rush it a bit.
If you’re into frescos then you must pay a visit to the Camera di San Paolo, the old apartments of Giovanna di Piacenza. In this space you’ll see beautiful frescos, which include the bedroom that was painted by the Italian master Correggio, considered one of the masterpieces of Italian renaissance painting. The visit costs only 5€.
Finally, there are two spaces that host temporary exhibitions which are Palazzo del Governatore (Governor’s palace) and APE. These two offer exhibitions that can be quite interesting and different from the mold, so we suggest you to check out what they have in the days you’re there.
Music and opera
There is one man, and one man only, that you’ll find everywhere in Parma (just like parsley, as we say in Italian): Giuseppe Verdi. A statue dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi is placed in Piazzale della Pilotta, where all the museums mentioned above are. Verdi has been perhaps the most important Italian opera composer in the 19th century, composing worldwide known operas such as Nabucco, Aida, Traviata, Trovatore, and Rigoletto. For any fan of classical music and opera, these are perhaps five of the most important compositions of all time. The theme Va Pensiero from Nabucco (1842) has been long considered as an “alternative” Italian anthem. If you’re into music and want to deepen your understanding of Verdi, the Opera scene, and their relationship with the territory of Parma, the best thing you can do is to visit the Teatro Regio (royal theatre) for just about 7€. In October, the festival Verdi takes place. This big classical music and Opera festival includes a long list of events centred around the maestro and his composition.