If you enjoy your cheese, ham and wine full of flavour, your fashion smart, your streets old and cobbled and your architecture dramatic then Parma is your kinda town. Most of Parma's highlights are within a leisured walking distance of the centre of town, with just a little more effort required to reach the attractions on the far side of the river. This is where you'll find several of the best places to stay in Parma. You'll find cycling is popular, so join in if you fancy. Otherwise just admire the attitude of folk who'll cycle in Prada.
Parma has real Italian style, in summer the air wafts with classical music - this is Verdi's home - and people sip brightly coloured aperitivos on Via Farini - and in winter there are numerous cosy cafes and restaurants in which to escape from the dazzling splendour of the white light and architecture.
The Piazza Duomo with its fresco filled cathedral and pink marble baptistry - one of the most famous medieval buildings in Italy - is a good place to start your explorations. Or Garibaldi Square, where you'll find the Governor's Palace, and where the original Roman colony had its forum, if you come upon that first. Make sure you swing by the Palazzo della Pilotta, a wonderful Renaissance palace, the Galleria Nazionale and the Teatro Regio, the opera house - and see a Verdi opera if it's at all possible!
Obviously you'll also want to eat. But as well as fitting in as many stops for cheese and ham as you can, it's also worth trying the local stuffed pasta
Our Guru's pick of the best places to stay in Parma are all in the surrounding area, but are nonetheless ideally placed for exploring this great Italian city.
Albareto Parma, Emilia Romagna
A rustic chic hotel in a rural location. Charming rooms have a cottagey feel; wooden beam ceilings, pastel colours, and adorable little balconies. Fabulous spa facilities and a traditional restaurant that serves modern cuisine. Ideal for couples on spa breaks.
Salsomaggiore Terme Parma,, Emilia Romagna
A wonderful castle nestled in the hills of Parma. Traditional elegance throughout romantic bedrooms. Wooden beams, stone walls, marble floors, soft linens. Stunning valley views from terraces, Turkish spa and pool, regional cuisine, and lots countryside exploring. Romantic, rustic, and laid back.
A chic castle hotel in the rolling countryside. Rooms are elegant and modern with wooden beams, soft drapes and chandeliers; suites split across two levels. Gardens with modern art pieces, a library, stone fireplaces, and antiques. A great choice for an escape to the countryside.
Parma (Polesine Parmense)
Exuding elegance and charm, this 14th century castle is a special and intimate experience. Its rooms are adorned with antique furniture and its atmosphere matches the rustic Parmense surroundings. The sublime Michelin starred restaurant uses ingredients produced on the farm. A rural Italian gem.