Altar to Giuseppe Verdi
This monument is part of the mausoleum placed in the square opposite the railwas station, inaugurated in 1920. During the Big War the mausoleum was slightly damaged and therefore it was demolished intentionally. Only the altar could be transported to its current location on Piazza Pilotta.
The author of the bronze parts is Hector Ximenes and portrays Verdi standing out with a thoughtful expression. In the back of the monument, low relieves depict historic events of the Risorgimento conected with the Maestro's work.
Giardino di San Paolo
It's amazing how much one walks when visiting a city! Especially when it is warm, a tourist needs to sit down somewhere cool.
In the centre of Parma there are several places where you can sit under the shade of trees, but this small park is certainly my favourite, so quiet and secluded. It is hidden behind a wall, in a narrow street called Borgo Pietro Giordani. This street used to be called "Borgo San Paolo", and in the novel "La Chartreuse de Parme" the lovers Fabrizio and Clelia were supposed to have a secret love-nest here. It is fiction, of course, but it adds a romantic touch to this lovely corner of the old town.
It is in the city centre, a by-street of Via Garibaldi.
The Duomo of Parma is an imposing Romanesque cathedral which was completed in the 12th century. The dome is particularly interesting because of its rich decorations by the Renaissance painter Antonio da Correggio representing the Virgin’s Assumption. The belfry is Gothic and was added in a second stage, between 1284 and 1294. originally there were meant to be two belfries but the second one was never even begun.
The church is open every day 9.00 - 12.30 and 15.00 - 19.00, whereas the museum only at the following times: 9.00-12.30 and 15.00 - 18.30. Entry fee (2010) € 3.00 for adults and € 1.50 for chuildren.
Visit the Baptistery. Prepare to be amazed!
The Piazza del Duomo has three major components: the cathedral, the Bishop's Palace, and the Baptistery. You may not be fascinated by the history of the early church, but I find it interesting that, starting around the time of Constantine (who declared that the Roman Empire was henceforth to be Christian) in the fourth century, the church began a large-scale building program, creating a separate space in which catecumens -- those desiring to become members of the church, typically adults -- would be immersed, conferring both church membership and eternal life in one fell swoop (though typically they would have been dunked three times, for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). You'll see some baptisteries today with big fireplaces, probably needed to warm up the newly-soaked church members. Because baptism was such an important rite, it was administered by the bishop and thus facilities were built close to the cathedral (and incidentally, at least in Parma, the bishop's residence).
Parma's Baptistery fully justifies a trip to Parma, even if you didn't want to relish its other art treasures and great food. Designed by Benedetto Antelami, the octagon-shaped, pink marble structure was begun in 1196 and building was supervised by the architect until 1216, when the supply of marble was interrupted by wars between Parma and Verona. Though Romanesque, the building shows a strong Gothic influence. The exterior features a series of small balconies, with large scultped lunettes over the doors (the originals of which can be found in the Diocesan Museum, safe from acid rain). Inside, sixteen sections rise to the dome's pinnacle. At ground level, there are sculptures of the months and seasons (believed to have been created personally by Antelami). The massive baptismal font was excavated in 1299. There is also a smaller "aspersion font" (useful when it became to custom to sprinkle rather than immerse the baptisands), which rests upon a lion.
You can rent an audiotape describing the various saints on display, and presumably a lot more about the architectural details. We chose to rely upon several guidebooks instead, but simply standing around gawking is fine, too!
A combination ticket gives you admission to the four interesting structures around the Piazza.
According to the city map, the church of St. John the Evangelist is the main church in the town named as Duomo. It used to be the Benedictine complex originaly built in the Romanesque style, dateing back to 10th century. The original chuch, however, was destroyed by a fire towards the end of the 15th century. Its reconstruction was decided in Renaissance style and was carried out between the end of 15th and the beginning of 16th centuries.
The whole project was followed by the Benedictine monks which created here an important cultural centre.
Unfortunately, the church was closed by the time of my visit and I couldn't see its valuable interiors.