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The name Parma is synonymous with ham and cheese, but Parma, occupied since the Bronze Age, is also rich with history and wonderful architecture. 

Names such as Antelami, Correggio, Parmigianino, Verdi and Toscanini made their mark in a city in this sophisticated and graceful jewel of a city. 

At the heart of the city is the town's colossal Palazzo del Pilotta. Not only does this 16th Century power station-sized structure house an archaeological museum, a 250-year-old library and a National Gallery (paintings by Da Vinci and Canaletto), it also contains, on its first floor, the astonishing Teatro Farnese, built in 1618.

Stand in the cobbled heart of the Piazza del Duomo and it's hard to think of a more beautiful building than the one which stands before you, the 13th century Baptistry.

An extravagant octagonal structure in pink and white Verona marble on the outside, it has a striking painted domed ceiling  and a dazalling interior decoratation. From its spectacular, frescoed dome down to the simple stone sculptures of agricultural workers and fantastical figures that wind around the base, carved around  1200 the Baptistry fully deserves its place as an UNESCO world heritage site.

 

The Theatre Royal

A feast for the eyes and the ears: concert-goers at Parma's Teatro Regio. The imposingly pillared, multi-tiered Teatro Regio, built at the behest of Napoleon's opera-mad wife Marie Louise and which has staged, for the past 150 years, the works of Parma's most famous non-edible export, the composer Giuseppe Verdi.

 

So heavily marinaded is the whole area in food, that within a 15-mile radius, there's a Museum of Ham, a Museum of Parmesan Cheese, a Museum of Tomatoes and a Museum of Salami. In 2015 Parma was declared Creative city of Gastronomy Unesco

 

The Farnese Theatre

This all-wooden theatre is roughly the size of the Centre Court at Wimbledon, with steep banks of seats rising on three sides. The Farnese dukes liked nothing better than to flood the orchestra pit with water to stage mock naval battles for their entertainment.