Between the Po and the Apennine ridge, the landscape changes constantly, yet it remains linked by a common thread, like a basic accent that distinguishes the vitality of small towns, castles, medieval churches and theaters.
The “Bassa” territory, which has stimulated with its own fog, the soul of Bernardo Bertolucci and Giovannino Guareschi, is the main producer of some of the most appreciated cured meats in the world, which perhaps draw their extraordinary flavor also from the fact of being born among architectural masterpieces, such as the Rocca dei Rossi in San Secondo, the Reggia di Colorno with its gardens, the castle of Fontanellato, the fortress Meli Lupi di Soragna and the Cistercian abbey of Fontevivo.
Back to the town of Parma, however, the "Piazza del Duomo" is a sort of center out of the center that almost seems to want to subtract some of the most unitary and complete medieval monuments of Parma from the buzzing town atmosphere. Around it, there is the almost millenary Cathedral - with the bas-reliefs by Benedetto Antelami, testimonies of Romanesque art and the superlative paintings by Correggio - and the Baptistery, reported by UNESCO among the sites of greatest astronomical value worldwide and a grand octagonal example in pink Verona marble from the Romanesque to the early Gothic period. Behind the Cathedral, the Benedictine Monastery of San Giovanni Evangelist can boast the testimonies of the passage of Correggio, author of the decorations of the hemi-pillars, of the cross-shaped vault, of the dome and of the drawings of the frieze of the Jewish and Pagan Sacrifice. The works of a young Parmigianino, the three cloisters, the Monumental Library and the Ancient Spezieria are also of great interest. Splendid example of the Renaissance in the town is the Basilica of Santa Maria della Steccata, which preserves "The Wise Virgins and the Foolish Virgins" by Parmigianino, who also performed the decoration of the two doors of the organ, near the entrance.
Initially conceived as a multi-purpose structure of the Farnese court, the Pilotta Monumental Complex expanded between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, taking on the dimensions that still today leave you speechless, especially due to the sense of disproportion with respect to the size of the city at the time of its design. On the first floor, the Farnese Theater, the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Museum, the Palatine Library and the Bodonian Museum.
Among the most important Civic Museums, there are the 20 rooms of the Pinacoteca Stuard - with an exhibition itinerary including works of various artistic and pictorial cultures, from the pre-Middle Ages to the portraits of the 19th century and the drawing of a greyhound attributed to Parmigianino, which today it has become the symbol of the institution - the Puppet Museum that is the most important Italian exhibition concerning animation theater - and the House of Music.
In the "Palazzo di Riserva", the Museo Glauco Lombardi collects historical and artistic evidence of great interest about Maria Luigia of Habsburg and Napoleon Bonaparte, while the domes frescoed by Correggio - scattered throughout the town as if to stimulate the sense for the exploration of the art lovers - ideally compose an itinerary between Parma Cathedral, Basilica of San Giovanni Evangelista and Camera di San Paolo. Located in the Baptistery of Parma, the Cycle of the Months Sculpted by Benedetto Antelami is a masterpiece that is added to the "Lastra della Deposizione" (in the Duomo), as a legacy of a personal style capable of tending towards the Gothic synthesizing the Lombard-Emilian Romanesque sculpture, the Byzantine tradition and classical art.
Again outside the city perimeter, La Villa dei Capolavori in the headquarters of the Magnani-Rocca Foundation in Mamiano di Traversetolo hosts the prestigious collection of Luigi Magnani, composed - among others - by works by Gentile da Fabriano, Filippo Lippi, Carpaccio, Dürer, Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dyck, Goya and, among the contemporaries, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, up to De Chirico, De Pisis, 50 works by Morandi, Burri, as well as sculptures by Canova and Bartolini.
Defined by his own inspirer "museum of the obvious" or "museum of the daily", the Ettore Guatelli Museum, in Ozzano Taro, near Collecchio, collects hammers, pliers, shovels and objects that, in their visceral materiality, actually aim at reconstructing and preserving the immaterial knowledge of rural life, to evoke an epic of the land and fields of Emilia.
Imagined by Franco Maria Ricci in Fontanellato as a path in which one could get lost, fantasize and reflect, we find the Masone Labyrinth, the largest labyrinth in the world, composed entirely of bamboo plants belonging to twenty different species. Next to it, a museum capable of collecting works spread over five centuries of history, a library, spaces for temporary exhibitions, an archive and tourist facilities.