Art Cities



The next Italian Capital of Culture (2020), Parma has a wealth of evocative monuments ranging from the Middle Ages, marked by Antelami, to the 19th century of the Habsburgs, passing through the Renaissance of Correggio and Parmigianino and the ducal era of the Farnese and Bourbons. It is also the musical homeland of Giuseppe Verdi and Arturo Toscanini. Its refined and elegant atmosphere will seduce you.

Set aside at least half a day or a whole day if you are looking for picturesque sites and history, not forgetting gourmet stops between monuments. We invite you to visit the Discover Parma page or our Signora Emilia, curiosità e dintorni blog for more details and attractions.


The city of Luciano Pavarotti and Enzo Ferrari, Modena is one of the most interesting cities of Emilia. Its cathedral and the Tower of Ghirlandina, tangible and intact witnesses of its medieval past, are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their priceless value. The classical itinerary of the historic centre also includes the Ducal Palace of the Este family, taking us through the old ghetto and its synagogue, the Piazza Grande with the Palazzo Comunale and the Luciano Pavarotti Theatre. The unforgettable Cathedral of Saint Geminian, masterpiece of Romanesque art, is a “book in stone” that has been recounting the fantastic imagination of the Middle Ages for over a thousand years on its façade adorned with extraordinary sculptures on the portals, capitals and metopes.

Discover the Province of Parma Ducal Palace of Sassuolo, an architectural delight embellished with fountains in its verdant setting, which placidly dominates the ample valley of Secchia. The building is a gem of the Baroque culture of northern Italy and of the patronage of Duke François I of Este, who surrounded himself with exceptional artists including the French Jean Boulanger. Vignola Castle: Standing on its outcrop of the first hills of Modena, overlooking the Panaro Valley, the “Rocca” is among the most interesting examples of fortified architecture in Emilia. Its imposing mass is softened inside thanks to the frescoes among which are those of the Chapel of Uguccione, an international Gothic jewel defined by the historian Carlo Arturo Quintavalle as “one of the most vivid and intense experiences among the Emilian works of the period”. The Abbey of Saint Sylvester of Nonantola, founded in 742 by Saint Anselm, was one of the most powerful abbeys in northern Italy and is one of the most significant examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. It has welcomed pilgrims for centuries, including those gathered in the Great Crypt which in 756 housed the remains for Pope Sylvester I. Today, visitors can also view precious pieces preserved in the Benedictine and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.


One of the richest and most flourishing cities of the Middle Ages, as witnessed by the Gothic palace, the cathedral and Church of Saint Antonin, Piacenza was the leading capital of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza and subsequently became the second city of the Farnese. The colossal Farnese Palace dates back to the second half of the 16th century. Designed by Vignola, it now houses the “civic” museums whose collections range from archaeology to the Risorgimento and deserve a thorough tour. A walk through the historic centre will take you through part of the ancient Farnese bastions, let you visit the Church of Saint Sixtus where Raphaël painted the famous Sistine Madonna (today in Dresden) and which preserves the sepulchre of Margaret of Austria, natural daughter of Charles V and mother of the condottiere Alessandro Farnese.

Nearby... Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba (PC) A testimony of medieval monasticism and of the extraordinary activity of Saint Bernard, the Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba is a fundamental step in discovering the territory of Piacenza. The Gothic structure, endowed with a pleasant cloister among the best preserved in Italy, is known for the famous “Infiorata del Corpus Domini”, a colourful and scented carpet of flowers covering the central nave during the Feast of Corpus Christi. Veleia Romana (PC) A historical link between Parma and Piacenza, the ancient Veleia Romana was discovered in 1747 thanks to the Duke of Parma Philippe de Bourbon. The intense excavation campaign ordered by the duke brought to light the complete remains of a small Roman town, with its basilica, its temple, its thermal baths, its necropolis, the entire urban structure and pre-Roman settlements. A large proportion of the pieces found in the Bourbon era, including the famous Tabula Alimentaria and the statues of the Giulio-Claudia dynasty, are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Parma.


It is called “the fat, the red, the learned” but these adjectives do not define the splendid Bologna, home of artists, writers and songwriters. A vibrant city with a thousand faces, the rhythm of its archways, towers and palaces can be discovered there.

One of the itineraries leaves from Piazza Maggiore, with the Palace of Accursio and the Basilica of San Petronio, crosses the old market, passing through the Archiginnasio and the Church of Santa Maria della Vita, and ends at the two towers. Nor should we miss visiting the complex of the Seven Churches of Piazza Santo Stefano, the Church of Saint James the Major in the University District and take a look through the small window of the Via della Piella which reveals that Bologna… is built on the water and that in former times it was navigated! For art lovers, the pictorial heritage is very rich and includes 16th century masters between Renaissance and Mannerism to the school of Carracci and that of Guido Reni and Guercino. Bologna is also the UNESCO Creative City of Music. It therefore has a wealth of itineraries and offerings: from the Oratory of Saint Cecilia (early 16th century) to the jazz stars of Via Orefici, all tell the stories of the music protagonists in Bologna: Farinelli, Giovanni Battista Martini, Mozart, up to Lucio Dalla. Nearby... Saint Luke’s Basilica A symbol of Bologna that greets visitors coming from the northwest, the sanctuary on the Colle della Guardia is connected to the city centre by 4 km of continuous archways built in the 17th century. The exterior profile of the church is simple. The internal decoration on the other hand is rich in the works of Guido Reni, Donato Creti, Guercino and the image of the Virgin which, according to tradition, was painted by Luke the Evangelist.

Reggio Emilia

Tra le città emiliane è la più legata alla storia dell’Italia unita, avendo forgiato, per prima, la bandiera Tricolore. Nella visita alla città, che si snoda tra piazze sugegstive, non possono mancare la Sala del Tricolore, il Duomo, la chiesa di San Prospero e la maestosa Basilica della Madona della Ghiara.

In provincia…

  • Il castello di Bianello, feudo di Matilde di Canossa
  • Brescello, patria di Peppone e Don Camillo
  • Guastalla
  • La Rocca Gonzaga a Novellara

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These are standard itineraries, each one can be customized.
For more curiosities visit our blog or go on with your trip in Emilia.
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