Parma, Italian Capital of Culture 2020

With the slogan La cultura batte il tempo Parma is the new Italian Capital of Culture

Every year the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism designates a Capital of Culture to support and enhance its cultural activities. Nearly two years have passed since Parma was appointed the Italian Capital of Culture 2020. Taking up the baton from Palermo, the winner of the 2018 edition, and Matera, European Capital of Culture 2019, Parma is ready to show how culture marks its time.

Let’s discover more about this city and its rich culture!

The cathedral and the baptistry

The central nave of the cathedral of Parma
The central nave of the cathedral of Parma

In Parma, several epochs coexist. It has had a long history. Founded by the Etruscans in the 7th-6th century BC, it later became a Celtic settlement and, in 183 BC, a Roman colony. The cathedral and the baptistry form a complex dating back to the High Middle Ages, testifying to another period of splendour and prestige. One of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy, the cathedral, consecrated in 1106, features two masterpieces by local artists from different historical periods: the Deposition from the Cross (1178), a relief sculpture by Benedetto Antelami, and the Assumption of the Virgin (1526-1530), a fresco by Renaissance artist Correggio, decorating the dome.

The baptistry of Parma
Interior view of the baptistry of Parma

Benedetto Antelami oversaw the project of the baptistry, the majestic octagonal building next to the cathedral, both as an architect and a sculptor, and created for it the renowned set of figures representing the months, seasons and signs of the zodiac. The project “I Mesi e le Stagioni – Piazza Duomo con gli occhi di Benedetto Antelami” (May-November 2020) will give the general public the chance to better understand the work of the great master. On this occasion, the statues representing the Months and the Seasons, now placed in the internal loggia of the baptistry, will be exhibited on ground level.

Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta

Pilotta and monument to Verdi
A view of la Pilotta and the monument to Giuseppe Verdi

Supposedly named after the Spanish ball game of pelota, it was originally built for the Farnese family between 1583 and 1622. Heavily bombed during WWII, it has been largely rebuilt and it currently houses three museums, Galleria Nazionale, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Museo Bodoniano, a library, Biblioteca Palatina, and a theatre, Teatro Farnese. To celebrate this special year for the city of Parma, La Pilotta will host an exhibition dedicated to the Farnese family, “I Farnese: le arti, il potere. 1513-1731” (October 21, 2020-January 21, 2021), exploring how they used the arts as a means of dynastic affirmation.

This complex houses a monument to Giuseppe Verdi, the famous composer born near Parma. There, the Teatro Regio will celebrate the 119th anniversary of his death, on January 27, 2020, with the participation of its choir and Corale Giuseppe Verdi.

Teatro Regio

The facade of the Teatro Regio
The façade of the Teatro Regio

Following the inaugural parade People of Parma, which took place on Saturday, January 11, on Sunday, Teatro Regio hosted the institutional opening ceremony of Parma Italian Capital of Culture, with the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella attending. In the evening, this opera house built in the 1820s celebrated the beginning of its opera season with a performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot.

You may also enjoy La Bohème di Giacomo Puccini

The interior of the Teatro Regio

Moreover, from January 10 to May 12, the Teatro Regio, famous for its Festival Verdi held every year since 2003, organizes a special festival dedicated to the evolution of the concept of time in the arts of the 20th century. It will be an unprecedented opportunity to encourage the city to embrace new musical languages, different from traditional ones.


In the foreground, Prosciutto crudo di Parma

Last but not least, Parma is renowned for its cuisine. It was not by chance that in 2015 it became a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Thanks to local products such as prosciutto crudo di Parma, culatello, Parmigiano Reggiano, tortelli, fungo porcino di Borgotaro, Lambrusco and Malvasia, Parma is an authentic ambassador of the Italian Food Valley.

This is the perfect year to visit Parma, the city where culture marks the passage of time.

If you enjoyed this article, you can also discover our top 5 places to visit in Italy

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