Guide to the most beautiful castles of Parma, an itinerary among fortresses and flavours

Art and gluttony, melodrama and recipes. Parma it is one of the few cities in Italy where stomach and heart always get along. On the domes of the churches the strength of the frescoes explodes Correggio while in the trattorias you can taste 24 months aged ham and Parmesan. In the boxes of Royal theatre the high notes of the opera singers they pay homage are weighed Giuseppe Verdi and in the backstage, culatelli are sliced ​​and bottles of Lambrusco are uncorked. It is not enough? So let’s think to the castles of Parmato the stories of the Small world from Giovannino Guareschi where a praeton like Don Camillo and a mayor with a mustache like Peppone fight from morning to night. But they make peace in front of a salami.

And again the lands of Great Riverthe gullies of Apennine mountain, Romanesque churches and recipes that have become mythical. And to the buildings where the ghost is never scary. All in a fortunate land where the legacies of the lords who have followed one another are stratified, come on Farnese to the Landicome on Reds to the Pallavicino. All lineages of lords who have written history and left a long line of castles that are worth a visit. After the visit, to relax, there is always the possibility of a gourmet break with a ham sandwich and a bowl of Malvasia.

Castles of Parma: the castle of Torrechiara

As a pied-à-terre for the lover, it is perhaps one of the most sensational in history. It certainly is among the castles of Parma. Is called castle of Torrechiara and was built in the mid-1400s by the nobleman Pier Maria Rossi for the beautiful Bianca Pellegrini. Seeing it for the first time it is impossible not to identify it with the most classic fairytale castle: surly towers perched on hills full of vineyards, the mountains in the background, frescoed rooms and a romantic loggia. And it is no coincidence that they filmed here the film Ladyhawke. A story of love, cloak and dagger.

To want the fortress was the noble Rossi, earl of Berceto and Marquis of San Secondo, who knew how to combine the skills of a warrior with those of a humanist. And under the armor he beat a heart. This is demonstrated by the fact that this captain-at-arms for the Visconti and Sforza ended up capitulating to the female arms of Bianca Pellegrini. So Rossi left his wife in Castle of San Secondo and for his lover he invented this jewel of military architecture which became, in a funny contrast, an alcove and a temple of affection. And the Golden Roombeautifully frescoed, represents the triumph of gothic love in painting.

Today, the Torrechiara Castle, a national monument, it can be visited every day except Monday, and a visit to the village that surrounds it is equally worthwhile. And to the restaurants that are within walking distance. Here, in fact, the typical Malvasia is produced white wine from the Parma hills, and a few kilometers away is Langhirano, the heart of the area Parma’s ham Dop. After a visit so much love can work up an appetite.

Castles of Parma - Fontanellato

Castles of Parma: the fortress of Fontanellato

Almost nine hundred years. And don’t hear them. Or at least don’t point them out too much. In fact, she still seems ready for war and to mock the besiegers there Sanvitale fortress of Fontanellato. Which has dominated the town center since 1124, the year of the construction of the first tower. There is everything that should be there: the moat, the bridge – which was a drawbridge – the grim keep of battlements with towers. Even a balcony for protected strolls. And a series of frescoes worthy of a large museum. Yes, because this castle was the home of the accounts Sanvitale who lived there practically until yesterday. That is, in 1948 when it was handed over to the Municipality.

Over the centuries the counts enriched the fortress with treasures: around 1520, for example, Count Giangaleazzo and his wife Paula Gonzaga they decided to treat themselves to a gift. And they called the Parmigianino to fresco what has since been called the hall of Diana and Actaeon in honor of the figures painted by the master. Not only that: mixed with antique furniture and other works there is also a sculpture by Canova, although perhaps the greatest marvel is caused by it the optical chamber: it is a centuries-old plant created in one of the massive towers where, through prisms and mirrors, the outside can be seen in an upside-down image.

The curious thing is that the phenomenon takes place in a room without windows. For us moderns accustomed to cinema it is obvious: in the past it was almost a witchcraft. around the rock, the country, pleasant to explore. The addresses that deserve a stop are also different because Fontanellato is located in an area blessed by the patron gods of gourmands and by kitchen protectors: here you can taste the classic cooked shoulder – to be eaten strictly warm and cut with a knife – and the rare Palasone raw shoulder. It is said that this cured meat was even codified around the year one thousand. Whether it is true is not known: but certainly also the shoulder, as well as i castles of Parmahe wears his years well.

castles of Parma - Colorno

Castles of Parma: the Colorno Palace

Thinking about it today makes you smile enough: but this palace was born for fox hunting. At least; this is what the history books say that have dedicated many pages to this palace, sandwiched between the houses of Colorno and the sluggish eddies of the Parma torrent. On the other hand it is logical: begun in 1660 by Duke Ranuccio Farnese, there palace of Colorno over the centuries it became one of the most important noble palaces in Europe. And among the most important among the castles of Parma. Before being defeated by the changing times and the reverses of the courts. Here the Farnese called the most famous architects until, in the mid-1700s, Charles of Bourbon arrived who began to strip it of its treasures.

In fact, the Bourbon, having become king of Naples, thought well of bringing a good part of the riches of the palace to the south which, however, still at the end of the 18th century, shone, thanks to the parties and magnificence of Don Philip of Bourbon and his wife Babette, daughter of King Louis XV. Those were the years of enlargements, of wealth dressed in Christian piety. And a convent was also born around the building. This golden age continued until the Napoleonic era when on dukedom of Parma kingdom Marie Louise of Austria, second Austrian wife of the French emperor. But the duchy ended, the Savoy kingdom arrived and the palace ceased to shine. After decades of neglect, only in 1978 did the restoration begin and now the Reggia is a jewel of history and flavours, one of the most splendid among the castles of Parma.

Indeed, it hosts Almathe International School of Italian Cuisine which was directed by Walter Marchesi. Here where we governed, now we cook. And people come from all over the world to learn the secrets of Italian recipes. On the other hand, the treasures of the territory are not lacking. As well as opportunities to please the palate: not far from here is the heart of the territory of the legendary culatello, the king of cured meats. To develop its flavour, it needs sultry summers and humid winters. Perhaps, for a king, even one of cured meats, knowing that he also has a nearby palace helps.

Castles of Parma - Soragna

Castles of Parma: the Fortress of Soragna

A prince of the Holy Roman Empire still lives here with the right to mint coins. But the curious thing is that you can easily meet him every day leaving the building by bicycle. There Fortress of Soragna it was born in 1385 and since then it has dominated this town in the lower Parma area with its large park and the characteristic that every self-respecting castle guarantees: the ghost. The resident spirit, unique among the castles of Parmais that of Cinerine woman, born Cassandra Marinoni from Milan, killed by her brother-in-law in 1573. The poor thing obviously didn’t take it well: and since then she has been wandering the halls of the castle of Soragna complaining. Among other things, she is said to be particularly active when something bad is about to happen.

But you know: ghosts are like that. Ghosts aside, the palace is worth a visit: the frescoed rooms are splendid and the park conciliates reassuring reflections. So go out and look for a trattoria. Here once the practice was long snacks based on salami and Parmesan. You resume use and sit at the table. The difference between one and the other is, trivializing to the extreme, that one appreciates after aging while the other is eaten young. It’s quite a challenge. To understand who wins it will certainly take several slices. Never castles of Parma they are in no hurry.

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