Coordinates: 44°48′05.3″N 10°19′40.8″E / 44.801472°N 10.328000°E / 44.801472; 10.328000
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Pärma (Emilian)
Comune di Parma
From top left: Monument to Victory, Palazzo del Governatore, Parma Cathedral, Palazzo della Pilotta with Monumento al Partigiano, Palazzo del Giardino in Parco Ducale, Baptistery of Parma, aerial view from the Baptistery
Flag of Parma
Coat of arms of Parma
Location of Parma
Parma is located in Italy
Location of Parma in Emilia-Romagna
Parma is located in Emilia-Romagna
Parma (Emilia-Romagna)
Coordinates: 44°48′05.3″N 10°19′40.8″E / 44.801472°N 10.328000°E / 44.801472; 10.328000
ProvinceParma (PR)
FrazioniSee list
 • MayorMichele Guerra
 • Total260.77 km2 (100.68 sq mi)
55 m (180 ft)
 (28 of October 2020)[2]
 • Total198,292
 • Density760/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Parmesan, Parmigiano
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code0521
Patron saintSant'Ilario di Poitiers, Sant'Onorato, San Rocco
Saint dayJanuary 13
WebsiteOfficial website

Parma (Italian: [ˈparma] ; Emilian: Pärma, Emilian: [ˈpɛːʁmɐ]) is a city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna known for its architecture, music, art, prosciutto (ham), cheese and surrounding countryside. With a population of 198,292 inhabitants, Parma is the second most populous city in Emilia-Romagna after Bologna, the region's capital. The city is home to the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world. Parma is divided into two parts by the stream of the same name. The district on the west side of the river is Oltretorrente. Parma's Etruscan name was adapted by Romans to describe the round shield called Parma.

The Italian poet Attilio Bertolucci (born in a hamlet in the countryside) wrote: "As a capital city it had to have a river. As a little capital it received a stream, which is often dry", with reference to the time when the city was capital of the independent Duchy of Parma.


Historical affiliations

Roman Republic 183–27 BC
Roman Empire 27 BC–285 AD
Western Roman Empire 285–476
Kingdom of Odoacer 476–493
Ostrogothic Kingdom 493–553
Eastern Roman Empire 553-568
Lombard Kingdom 568–773
Carolingian Empire 773–781
Regnum Italiae 781–1014
Holy Roman Empire 1014–1114
Free Commune 1114–1341
Duchy of Milan 1341–1513
Papal States 1513–1554
Duchy of Parma 1554–1808
First French Empire 1808–1814
Duchy of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla 1814–1848
Duchy of Parma 1851–1859
United Provinces of Central Italy 1859–1860
Kingdom of Italy 1861–1946
Italian Republic 1946–present


Parma was already a built-up area in the Bronze Age. In the current position of the city rose a terramare.[3] The "terramare" (marl earth) were ancient villages built of wood on piles according to a defined scheme and squared form; constructed on dry land and generally in proximity to the rivers. During this age (between 1500 BC and 800 BC) the first necropolis (on the sites of the present-day Piazza Duomo and Piazzale della Macina) were constructed.


The city was most probably founded and named by the Etruscans, for a parma or palma (circular shield) was a Latin borrowing, as were many Roman terms for particular arms, and the names Parmeal, Parmni and Parmnial appear in Etruscan inscriptions. Diodorus Siculus[4] reported that the Romans had changed their rectangular shields for round ones, imitating the Etruscans. Whether the Etruscan encampment acquired its name from its round shape, like a shield, or from its metaphorical function as a shield against the Gauls to the north, remains uncertain.

The Roman colony was founded in 183 BC, together with Mutina (Modena); 2,000 families were settled. Parma had a certain importance as a road hub over the Via Aemilia and the Via Claudia. It had a forum, in what is today the central Garibaldi Square. In April 43 BC the city was destroyed.[5] Subsequently Augustus rebuilt it. During the Roman Empire, it gained the title of Julia for its loyalty to the imperial house.

Attila sacked the city in 452,[6] and the Germanic king Odoacer later gifted it to his followers. During the Gothic War, however, Totila destroyed it. It was then part of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna (changing its name to Chrysopolis, "Golden City", probably due to the presence of the imperial treasury) and, from 569, of the Lombard Kingdom of Italy. During the Middle Ages, Parma became an important stage of the Via Francigena, the main road connecting Rome to Northern Europe; several castles, hospitals and inns were built in the following centuries to host the increasing number of pilgrims who passed by Parma and Fidenza, following the Apennines via Collecchio, Berceto and the Corchia ranges before descending the Passo della Cisa into Tuscany, heading finally south toward Rome.

The city had a medieval Jewish community.[7] The Palatine Library houses the largest collection of Hebrew manuscripts in Italy, and the second-largest in the world after the Bodleian Library in Oxford.[8]

Middle Ages[edit]

Baptistery of Parma, 1196–1270

Under Frankish rule, Parma became the capital of a county in 774. Like most northern Italian cities, it was nominally a part of the Holy Roman Empire created by Charlemagne, but locally ruled by its bishops, the first being Guibodus. In the subsequent struggles between the Papacy and the Empire, Parma was usually a member of the Imperial party. Two of its bishops became antipopes: Càdalo, founder of the cathedral, as Honorius II; and Guibert, as Clement III. An almost independent commune was created around 1140; a treaty between Parma and Piacenza of 1149 is the earliest document of a comune headed by consuls.[9] After the Peace of Constance in 1183 confirmed the Italian communes' rights of self-governance, long-standing quarrels with the neighbouring communes of Reggio Emilia, Piacenza and Cremona became harsher, with the aim of controlling the vital trading line over the Po River.

The struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines was a feature of Parma too. In 1213, her podestà was the Guelph Rambertino Buvalelli. Then, after a long stance alongside the emperors, the Papist families of the city gained control in 1248. The city was besieged in 1247–48 by Emperor Frederick II, who was however crushed in the battle that ensued.

By 1328, Rolando de' Rossi was made signore of Parma. In 1331, the city submitted to King John of Bohemia. Parma fell under the control of Milan in 1341. After a short-lived period of independence under the Terzi family (1404–1409), the Sforza imposed their rule (1440–1449) through their associated families of Pallavicino, Rossi, Sanvitale and Da Correggio. These created a kind of new feudalism, building towers and castles throughout the city and the land. These fiefs evolved into truly independent states: the Landi governed the higher Taro's valley from 1257 to 1682. The Pallavicino seignory extended over the eastern part of today's province, with the capital in Busseto. Parma's territories were an exception for Northern Italy, as its feudal subdivision frequently continued until more recent years. For example, Solignano was a Pallavicino family possession until 1805, and San Secondo belonged to the Rossi well into the 19th century.

Modern era[edit]

Parma in the 15th century

Between the 14th and the 15th centuries, Parma was at the centre of the Italian Wars. The Battle of Fornovo was fought in its territory. The French held the city in 1500–1521, with a short Papal parenthesis in 1512–1515. After the foreigners were expelled, Parma belonged to the Papal States until 1545.

In that year the Farnese pope, Paul III, detached Parma and Piacenza from the Papal States and gave them as a duchy to his illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese, whose descendants ruled in Parma until 1731, when Antonio Farnese, last male of the Farnese line, died. In 1594 a constitution was promulgated, the University enhanced and the Nobles' College founded. There was also an important Jesuit college in Parma: it was the largest owned by the order in the entire region of Emilia-Romagna and it acquired a strong reputation in the scientific field, given that Fathers Giuseppe Biancani, Niccolò Cabeo and Mario Bettinus, all members of the order, taught there.[10] The war to reduce the barons' power continued for several years: in 1612 Barbara Sanseverino was executed in the central square of Parma, together with six other nobles charged of plotting against the duke. At the end of the 17th century, after the defeat of Pallavicini (1588) and Landi (1682) the Farnese duke could finally hold with firm hand all Parmense territories. The castle of the Sanseverino in Colorno was turned into a luxurious summer palace by Ferdinando Bibiena.

In the Treaty of London (1718) it was promulgated that the heir to the combined Duchy of Parma and Piacenza would be Elisabeth Farnese's elder son with Philip V of Spain, Don Carlos. In 1731, the fifteen-year-old Don Carlos became Charles I Duke of Parma and Piacenza, at the death of his childless great uncle Antonio Farnese. In 1734, Charles I conquered the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, and was crowned as the King of Naples and Sicily on 3 July 1735, leaving the Duchy of Parma to his brother Philip (Filippo I di Borbone-Parma). All the outstanding art collections of the duke's palaces of Parma, Colorno and Sala Baganza were moved to Naples.

A drawing of Parma.
The city of Parma, divided by the river of the same name, with the imposing Romanesque Cathedral of the Ascension of the Virgin prominent on the right bank. 16th century.

Parma was under French influence after the Peace of Aachen (1748). Parma became a modern state with the energetic action of prime minister Guillaume du Tillot. He created the bases for a modern industry and fought strenuously against the church's privileges. The city lived a period of particular splendour: the Biblioteca Palatina (Palatine Library), the Archaeological Museum, the Picture Gallery and the Botanical Garden were founded, together with the Royal Printing Works directed by Giambattista Bodoni, aided by the Amoretti Brothers as skilled and inspired punchcutters.

Contemporary age[edit]

Parma in 1832

During the Napoleonic Wars (1802–1814), Parma was annexed to France and made capital of the Taro Department. Under its French name, Parme, it was also created a duché grand-fief de l'Empire for Charles-François Lebrun, duc de Plaisance, the Emperor's Arch-Treasurer, on 24 April 1808 (extinguished in 1926).

After the restoration of the Duchy of Parma by the 1814–15 Vienna Congress, the Risorgimento's upheavals had no fertile ground in the tranquil duchy. In 1847, after Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma's death, it passed again to the House of Bourbon, the last of whom was stabbed in the city and left it to his widow, Luisa Maria of Berry. On 15 September 1859 the dynasty was declared deposed, and Parma entered the newly formed province of Emilia under Luigi Carlo Farini. With the plebiscite of 1860 the former duchy became part of the unified Kingdom of Italy.

The loss of the capital role provoked an economic and social crisis in Parma. It started to recover its role of industrial prominence after the railway connection with Piacenza and Bologna of 1859, and with Fornovo and Suzzara in 1883. Trade unions were strong in the city, in which a notable General Strike was declared from 1 May to 6 June 1908. The struggle with Fascism had its most dramatic moment in August 1922, when the regime officer Italo Balbo attempted to enter the popular quarter of Oltretorrente. The citizens organized into the Arditi del Popolo ("The people's daring ones") and pushed back the squadristi. This episode is considered the first example of Resistance in Italy.

View of Palazzo della Pilotta in Piazza della Pace. The rebuilt part on the right is where once was the church of St. Peter.

During World War II, Parma was a strong centre of partisan resistance. The train station and marshalling yards were targets for high altitude bombing by the Allies in the spring of 1944. Much of the Palazzo della Pilotta, situated not far (half a mile) from the train station, was destroyed. Along with it the Teatro Farnese and part of the Biblioteca Palatina were destroyed by Allied bombs; some 21,000 volumes of the library's collection were lost. Several other monuments were also damaged: Palazzo del Giardino, Steccata and San Giovanni churches, Palazzo Ducale, Paganini theater and the monument to Verdi. However, Parma did not see widespread destruction during the war. Parma was liberated from the German occupation (1943–1945) on 26 April 1945 by the partisan resistance and the Brazilian Expeditionary Force.[11]



In Parma, the average annual high temperature is 17 °C (63 °F), the annual low temperature is 9 °C (48 °F), and the annual precipitation is 777 millimetres (30.59 inches).

The following data comes from the weather station located at the university in the city center. It is affected by the urban heat island phenomenon. Parma has a mid-latitude, four-season humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) with heavy continental influences due to the city's inland position. Relatively nearby coastal areas like Genoa have far milder climates with cooler summers and milder winters, with the mountains separating Parma from the Mediterranean Sea acting as a barrier to the sea air. The city receives approximately 45 cm of snow each winter.

Climate data for Parma (1991−2020 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 6.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.9
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 57
Source 1: Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale[12]
Source 2: Archivio climatico Enea-Casaccia (precipitation 1961–1990)[13]

Main sights[edit]

Late Mannerist façade of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, by Simone Moschino (1604), with sculpture by Giambattista Carra da Bissone[14]
Façade of the church of San Francesco
Opera house programme near Teatro Regio

Religious buildings[edit]

Secular buildings[edit]

Other sites of interest[edit]


ISTAT 1 January 2016[16][17]
Parma Italy
18 years old and under 16.46% 17.45%
65 years old and over 22.64% 22.04%
Foreign Population 15.91% 8.29%
Births/1,000 people 8.62 b 8.01 b
Largest resident foreign-born groups
Country of birth Population
Moldova Moldova 4,967
Romania Romania 3,513
Albania Albania 2,661
Philippines Philippines 2,570
Tunisia Tunisia 1,561
Nigeria Nigeria 1,450
Ukraine Ukraine 1,292
Morocco Morocco 1,264
Ghana Ghana 1,104
Ivory Coast Ivory Coast 938
China China 819

On 1 January 2016 there were 192,836 resident citizens in Parma, of whom 47.64% were male and 52.36% were female.[2] Minors (children aged 18 and younger) totalled 16.46% of the population compared to pensioners who numbered 22.64%. This compares with the Italian average of 17.45% and 22.04% respectively.[16] In the fourteen years between 2002 and 2016, the population of Parma experienced 17.72% growth, while Italy as a whole grew by 6.45%. In the same period foreign born residents in Parma experienced +385.02% growth, while in Italy growth was of +274.75%. [18] The current birth rate of Parma is 8.62 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 8.01 births.

Historical population
Source: ISTAT

As of 1 January 2016, 84.09% of the population was Italian. The largest foreign group came from other parts of Europe (namely Moldova, Romania, Albania, and Ukraine: 6.45%), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (namely Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast: 1.81%), North Africa (namely Morocco and Tunisia: 1.46%) and the Philippines: 1.33%.[17]


Food and cuisine[edit]

Caffè Teatro Regio in front of the theatre

Parma is famous for its food and rich gastronomical tradition: two of its specialties are Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (also produced in Reggio Emilia) and Prosciutto di Parma ("Parma ham"), both given Protected designation of origin status. Parma also claims several stuffed pasta dishes, such as tortelli d'erbetta and anolini in brodo.

In 2004 Parma was appointed the seat of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and was appointed to the Creative Cities Network as UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Parma also has two food multinationals, Barilla and Parmalat, and a medium-large food tourism sector, represented by Parma Golosa and Food Valley companies.


The comune (municipality) of Parma is subdivided into a number of frazioni: Alberi, Baganzola, Beneceto, Botteghino, Ca'Terzi, Calestano, Carignano, Carpaneto, Cartiera, Casalbaroncolo, Casalora di Ravadese, Casaltone, Case Capelli, Case Cocconi, Case Crostolo, Case Nuove, Case Rosse, Case Vecchie, Casino dalla Rosa, Casagnola, Castelletto, Castelnovo, Cervara, Chiozzola, Coloreto, Colorno, Corcagnano, Eia, Fontanini, Fontanellato, Gaione, Ghiaiata Nuova, Il Moro, La Catena, La Palazzina, Malandriano, Marano, Marore, Martorano, Molino di Malandriano, Osteria San Martino, Panocchia, Paradigna, Pedrignano, Pilastrello, Pizzolese, Ponte, Porporano, Pozzetto Piccolo, Quercioli, Ravadese, Ronco Pascolo, Rosa, San Pancrazio, San Prospero, San Ruffino, San Secondo, Sissa, Soragna, Terenzo, Tizzano Val Parma, Traversetolo, Trecasali, Valera, Viarolo, Viazza, Vicofertile, Vicomero, Vigatto, Vigheffio, Vigolante.

Notable people[edit]

Painters and sculptors[edit]

Detail of Correggio's frescoes in the Camera di San Paolo



Parma F.C. fans at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, one of the oldest stadiums in Italy

Parma Calcio 1913, founded in 2015, is a Serie A (first division) football club. It replaced Parma F.C., which went bankrupt in 2015. It plays in the city's Stadio Ennio Tardini, which opened in 1923 and seats up to 23,000.

Parma's other sport team is the rugby union club Zebre which competes in Pro14, one of the top rugby competitions in the world. Parma also is home to two rugby union teams in the top national division, Overmach Rugby Parma and SKG Gran Rugby.

Parma Panthers is the Parma American football team which provided the basis for John Grisham's book Playing for Pizza. Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi is the ground of rugby and American football teams.

Pallavolo Parma and Parma Baseball are other sports teams in the city. Nino Cavalli Stadium is a baseball stadium located in Parma.[19] It is the home stadium of Parma Baseball of the Italian Baseball League.[20]

Economy and infrastructure[edit]

Parma has a thriving economy, and the food sector is very developed. Some of the players in this sector include Barilla, which is based in the city. Chiesi Farmaceutici, in the pharma industry, is headquartered in Parma. The European Food Safety Authority is also based in Parma.


Parma railway station is on the Milan–Bologna railway system.

The Parma trolleybus system has been in operation since 1953. It replaced an earlier tramway network, and presently comprises four trolleybus routes.

Aeroporto Internazionale di Parma, Parma's airport, offers commercial flights to cities in a number of European countries.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Parma is twinned with:[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Popolazione residente Anno 2016". GeoDemo - ISTAT (in Italian). Archived from the original on 6 February 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Archaeology in Emilia Romagna page".
  4. ^ XXII, 2,2; XXVIII, 2,1
  5. ^ The Letters of Cicero: B.C. 44-43. G. Bell and Sons. 1900.
  6. ^ Domenico, Roy Palmer (2002). "Parma". The Regions of Italy: A Reference Guide to History and Culture. Westport, Connecticur: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 93. ISBN 9780313307331. Retrieved 5 May 2019. Atila the Hun put Parma to the torch in 452, as did Totila the Ostrogoth in the mid-500s. It was rebuilt a number of times as a Lombard capital, the site of a Byzantine treasury, and, from the ninth century, a bishopric.
  7. ^ Italy's poetic Parma region - "Italy has one of the oldest European Diaspora communities and a Jewish presence has been documented in Rome for more than 2,200 years. However, Jews only arrived in the Emilia-Romagna region during the 13th century."
  8. ^ Parma - "The Palatine Library is as well home to the largest Italian collection of Hebrew manuscripts, and the second largest in the world after the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The documents were a gift of Maria Luigia Duchess."
  9. ^ G. Drei, Le Carte degli archivi parmensi del secolo XII (Parma, 1950) doc. no. 194; the genesis of the Parmesan commune is studied by R. Schumann, "Authority and the commune: Parma, 833–1033", (Parma: Deputazione di storia patria, series 2.2, VIII) 1973.
  10. ^ Gatto, Romano (2019). "Jesuit mathematics". In Ines G. Županov (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of the Jesuits. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 646. ISBN 9780190639655.
  11. ^ "Mapa da рrea de operaушes". Archived from the original on 10 April 2008. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Valori climatici normali in Italia". Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale. Archived from the original on 17 September 2023. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
  13. ^ "Archivio climatico Enea-Casaccia". Archived from the original on 3 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Monastero di San Giovanni, la chiesa" (in Italian).
  15. ^ "Bodoni Museum". briar press official website. briar press. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  16. ^ a b "Popolazione residente - Bilancio demografico Anno 2015". GeoDemo - Istat (in Italian). Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  17. ^ a b c "Cittadini stranieri - Bilancio demografico Anno 2015". GeoDemo - Istat (in Italian). Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Bilancio demografico intercensuario Anno 2002". GeoDemo - Istat (in Italian). Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Stadium Of Baseball Nino Cavalli — Punto dinteresse in Parma, Via Teresa Confalonieri Casati, 22, 43125 Parma PR, Italy".
  21. ^ "Gemellaggi". (in Italian). Parma. Retrieved 16 December 2019.


External links[edit]