onward to Parma (2009 TRIP)

Thursday, July 9th:
The train ride from Reggio Emilia to Parma is only 15 minutes. With the train running 10 minutes late, I arrived in Parma at 1:35. I was starving! I considered eating lunch in Reggio Emilia but couldn’t pass up having a meal in Parma. The tour guide from Bologna recommended a restaurant in Parma called Sorelle Picchi but I forgot to look up where it was on the map and gave up looking after about 10 minutes.

I remembered eating at a wonderful restaurant near the Duomo. As I headed up a little street behind the Duomo area where I thought the restaurant was located, I saw this cute little restaurant called Ristorante La Forchetta.


It turned out to be a fabulous choice! I ordered tortelli di zucca alla parmigiana (little ravioli filled with pumpkin and covered in butter and parmesan cheese). As I took my first bite… WOW!!! Incredible!! The homemade bread was also soooo delicious! It was one of the best meals I had in Italy this summer. The only problem was that I was so stuffed after eating the tortelli and bread that I had no room for any dessert.

After I rolled out of the restaurant, I had a little time to kill before everything opened up again at 3. Perfect time to take some photos. I headed straight for the beautiful Piazza Garibaldi. The Palazzo del Governatore with its very cool astronomical clock is one of my favorite buildings in Parma.

After taking a few photos in Piazza Garibaldi, I walked back to the Piazza del Duomo. The pink and white marble octagonal Baptistery in Parma is my favorite baptistery in all of Italy.

For more photos & a video, check out two more of my posts on this incredible Baptistery –  exterior of the Baptistery in Parma and interior of the Baptistery in Parma.


I bought a cumulative ticket (which cost 5 euros) for both the Baptistery and the nearby Museo Diocesano. This would be my first time visiting the Museo Diocesano. This small museum is located diagonally across the piazza in the basement of the building. Two very kind women were working at the desk when I arrived.

After showing my ticket and chatting for a bit, one woman accompanied me down to the basement. I was the only one in the museum. She was so impressed that I came all the way from Hawaii to visit Parma. She wanted to know all about my trip, how long it took for me to travel to Italy, how I learned Italian, etc. She was very nice and I enjoyed chatting with her even though it made it difficult to pay attention to any of the sculptures and other art in the museum. She continued to ask me questions and carry on a conversation during my entire visit.

When I walked into the museum, the weather was sunny and warm. Thirty minutes later when I walked outside, the skies were gray (and black in the distance).
I could hear the sound of thunder and it was just starting to rain. I ran across the piazza and headed into the Duomo. The inside of the Duomo in Parma is one of my favorite Duomos in Italy. I only wish there was more light in this Duomo to truly appreciate all of the beautiful frescoes.

6duomo parma sun rain

View of the inside of the Duomo looking towards the altar.


View of the inside of the Duomo looking back towards the doorway.


I was very excited to check out the Assumption of the Virgin fresco by Correggio after reading Sandra write about it. Either the cupola must not have been lit or perhaps I was just overwhelmed by all of the other incredible art work the last time I was inside this Duomo to take notice of this fresco.


I was hoping that the storm had passed after spending quite a bit of time inside the Duomo. Instead, it was raining even harder and the temperature was dropping.

I usually always take my raincoat with me just in case when going on a daytrip, but because the skies were so blue when I left Bologna in the morning, I did not even think about taking a jacket. I do always carry one of those little portable plastic see-through rain ponchos that fold up and fit nicely into a tiny bag with me when I am traveling. You know, the kind that will never fit into that bag again once you use the raincoat once. These rain ponchos make me think of my grandmother because she had a rain hat made out of that same see-through plastic and she always carried and wore it when it rained. I took the raincoat out of the little bag and put it on. Now if only I had something for my feet. My chaco sandals were not the best type of footwear to be wearing in this type of weather.

I had one other must stop while in Parma before heading back to the train station – the K2 Gelateria. Although I have not been back in Parma since 2003, I remembered just where this gelateria was located. Even with the rainy weather outside, it was packed with people inside ordering gelato. I ordered caffe and pistacchio. In my opinion, Grom still wins out for taste but K2 wins for presentation.

10k2 gelato.jpg

I always find it so interesting that as soon as it starts to rain in Italy, people pop up on every corner selling umbrellas. When leaving the gelateria, I dodged the umbrella salesmen and headed back towards the train station. The one time the porticoes in Bologna would have been very useful, I was in Parma where there was little cover. I stood under a restaurant umbrella to take this photo.


As I walked back to the train station, I noticed this interesting tower. The tourist information office was nearby. I stopped inside and asked if it was possible to climb the tower or if there were any other towers in Parma that could be climbed. None.

Onward to the train station I went. I made it to the train station with about 10 minutes to spare to catch the one hour 17:29 train back to Bologna.

On the ride back, as I sat near the door in on of the train cars, I watched a gypsy conference (or yelling) in one of the connecting areas between two of the trains. A bunch of young girls were being yelled at or given orders by who I assumed was the leader or the boss of the gang. When the person checking the tickets came down the aisle the girls scattered. I have seen confrontations with these gypsies quite a few times this summer on trains, resulting in the gypsies being kicked off the trains since they don’t have tickets.

We passed by some pretty nasty rain as we traveled back to Bologna. When we arrived in Bologna, the train station was packed. It was not raining outside at the moment but the skies were threatening. I am going to stop here and write about my bus ride adventure back to the center in another post.

I am so glad I decided to add a second stop in Parma after visiting Reggio Emilia. I love Parma. I have decided that the next time I stay in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, I am going to stay in Parma for a few nights again.

Next up – the rest of Thursday in Bologna

21 thoughts on “onward to Parma (2009 TRIP)

  1. Excuse me while I lick the screen – your description of the pumpkin ravioli is – well, to die for! Parma seems so picture perfect. Each Duomo in Italy is a museum unto itself. Many thanks for this post. menehune PS: Ortiz – did he or didn’t he?


  2. menehune, I wish I had a photo of the tortelli but it was too dark and I didn’t think it would come out. Parma is a very cool place. I really need to go back and spend hours in that Duomo one day.
    Regarding Ortiz, my thought is that he is being honest as far as not taking injected steroids. I wish he would be more specific about the supplements he took, although it seems that they were all legal and allowed at that time. I have always looked at him as an honest person but there still seems to be a bit of a question regarding just how he tested positive. I guess I can’t convict him in my mind yet.


  3. What a wonderful post and — as always — great, great photos. I also love that astronomical clock. In fact, it seemed to me that I ran across several astronomical clocks in the Emilia-Romagna, including the huge one inside Bologna’s cathedral. Interesting…..
    K2 gelato is always packed, isn’t it? I couldn’t believe the non-stop traffic there, and it’s so tiny inside.
    I also love Parma’s Baptistry, and found the ladies in the Museo Diocesano to be extraordinarily friendly. Which helped make up for the lack of much of interest in the museo itself!


  4. What a fabulous description of your day in Parma! And gorgeous photos! I love the look of the Baptistery and can’t wait to see more.
    The inside of the Duomo looks amazing too. And I could just lick that gelato, yum!
    I had to laugh about you comment of umbrella salesmen popping up at every corner:)
    On another note, it is actually a pretty day here to day, it drizzled a little in the morning, but now it is fairly sunny. We are supposed to get hit by tomorrow morning after it passes the Big Island tonight. Stay safe and dry:)


  5. Loved reading about Parma.Your lunch sounds wonderful.Also loved your comment about your grandmothers rain bonnet. My grandmother had a few of those,too.She never left home without it.Hadn’t thought about that in years.Thanks for bringing back that memory!


  6. Leslie, I have been tempted but have not bought one yet while in Italy.
    june, thanks! I didn’t start blogging until my last few trips. I know what you mean about wishing blogs were around years ago. I would have loved to document my trip to Hong Kong.
    sandra, the one inside the church in Bologna was soooo cool! I thought it was just me not really getting into the Museo Diocesano. Thanks for the compliment about my photos. I wish I had more time in Parma for photos on this trip. Never enough time though to do everything.
    candi, I remember being blown away by this Duomo the first time I was in Parma. It really is amazing inside. It is amazing though isn’t it how the umbrellas appear magically. I am not sure just where they keep them during sunny weather.
    I was really hoping for a “snow day” this tomorrow. Looks like it will just be a big rainstorm now. Supposed to hit here Tues night. It was muggy and cloudy at work but sunny at my house today. I think driving will be the only danger now except for people living in flood areas. Stay safe also!
    sheri, glad I brought back some nice memories for you. Did your grandmother keep hers in a little bag also? Even the little hats were impossible to fold back up once worn. I wonder why they don’t sell them anymore.


  7. Hi Girasoli, wonderful post on your day in Parma. The photos of the Duomo are just incredible. I remember reading Sandra’s description of the assumption of the Virgin frescoe. I would really like to one day visit Parma too so I can see this beautiful Duomo and have lunch at that fabulous restaurant. Like M said, your description of the pumpkin filled ravioli…Yum! You took some awesome photos and I had no idea there was so much to seen in Parma. I will have to put it on my Italy Radar now.
    Thanks for this fabulous post and have a great day today. Hope that the storm doesn’t hit too strongly for you all in Hawaii! Be safe.


  8. Love your gorgeous photos, they are so vibrant, I almost feel like I’ve stepped right into the picture! Wonderful descriptions of Parma, it’s very interesting learning about this city. Also now imagining you wandering in the museum, with the guide trailing along asking questions while you do your Verizon commercial routine with Jane…very funny!


  9. Kathy, Parma really is a gem. Both the Duomo and the Baptistery are amazing! And the food is fantastic. Definitely, you need to go there someday. The storm has turned into a dud. Good news except I was secretly hoping for a “snow day” off to catch up on stuff. I am very grateful though that the storm did sizzle out. It originally was a Category 4. We would have been toast if it hit us at that strength.
    Anne, I have not forgotten about you. Just have not had enough time yet to catch up on everyone’s blogs and there is so much to read about your trip that I want to have enough time so I don’t have to rush. The museum was really just one main room with a couple of other tiny areas. The woman sat in the middle and just kept on chatting. She was very nice though. It is probably a pretty boring job.


  10. Girasoli, I loved this post. The pictures are just beautiful. I would love to visit Parma one day too. And the way you described the wonderful food had my mouth watering. I have so enjoyed reading all of your posts, from your trip. I am so glad you had such a great time. Also happy that the storm, turned out to be downgraded from what they were predicting.


  11. My MIL bemoans the fact that its hard to buy those plastic rainbonnets any more. And hairnets. *grin*
    Thinking about trying for an Italy trip next summer. E-R is at the top of the list, if I decide to not revisit Piemonte.


  12. Girasoli, I always enjoy reading you but it is so much more fun now that I know you–really know you, not just virtually. Your Parma day was perfect. I love Parma; however, I take issue with you on gelato. I like K2 much more than Grom which I do not find to be really special. Oops, friends just came to the door so Ciao.


  13. i was quite fortunate to have lived in parma for two years.. easily my favorite city in italy. i used to go sit in the back of the duomo for an hour or so and just let my eyes wander. such a calming exercise..


  14. Sandra, thanks! Parma really is a fabulous little city or big town to visit (not sure officially which is it considered). This was my 3rd time there and it was much too short of a visit. The storm turned out to big a big happy dud. The rain was much worse last winter.
    Amy, I do wonder why they stopped making them. I might have a lead on hairnets though. I think the cafeteria ladies wear them at our school. I highly recommend keeping E-R at the top of your list. There are so many wonderful places to visit. You don’t even need a car with the great (that is if trains are on time and not on strike) train connections.
    Jane, glad we finally met also. Have you had the same caffe and pistacchio combination at both places? I guess it really depends on what criteria you have for a good gelato but I still stand strong with Grom as my favorite gelateria for the caffe and pistacchio combo. Right now though, I would be thrilled to be eating just about any gelato from Italy.
    lango, were you playing baseball? I really want to go back again and spend more time in both the Duomo and the Battistero. They are both so amazing. Lucky you to live there for two years! I hope you had fun in Lucca. I am missing Italy!!!


  15. Your meal in Parma has me drooling too! It sounds just wonderful! You notice how I gravitate toward food and wine . . .


  16. Oh yum! You had one of my favorite dishes in all of Italy: tortelli di zucca. First time I had it was in Mantova and it was heavenly.
    I visited Parma very briefly nine years ago and this post has piqued my interest in a return visit. The astronomical clock is also one of my favorite and I love the interesting facade of the palazzo. Lovely photos.


  17. i’ll be heading to parma this weekend to run a half marathon, and remembered your post and had to check back in. dopo l’aver riletto, so qual piatto prendero’ dopo la corsa.. :)
    ha, that’s funny your physical therapist played there. yes, i was playing ball there in ’04 and ’05. i should send you a few names of iconic parma players that he might remember..


  18. Lucky you!! Oh how I would love to be there right now eating a fabulous meal! Good luck running the half marathon! Yes, please do send me some names. I think he was there in the 80’s.


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