Parma, city of Verdi, Toscanini, Parmigianino,… Visit the most memorable places such as Arturo Toscanini’s birth place, the Teatro Farnese, the Palazzo della Pilotta and the Teatro Regio.



Casa Natale Arturo Toscanini, hommage to the Maestro!

Arturo Toscanini is born on March 25, 1867 in a 3 stories house in the Oltretorrente district, in a working-class, music-loving, proud and politically restless neighborhood, to whose character Toscanini would remain forever bound.

The Museum is not only an opportunity to once again celebrate the greatness of one of the greatest musical performers in our history, but also an opportunity to reflect on the reasons for that greatness.

Embrace a journey through Toscanini’s impressive musical life, meet his family, his friends – among them great composers such as Puccini, singers such as Caruso, la Tebaldi, musicians such as Horowitz and many others. Walk the corridors and admire the fascinating original concert posters, explore the painting galleries, with a selection of beautiful portraits of the Maestro’s favorite composers, discover great photographs, the fracs he wore, the batons he used to conduct with. 

More then 60 years after his death, Arturo Toscanini is still considered a myth. This is the occasion to touch a little of his legend. 

Teatro Farnese, a baroque celebration!

On the second floor of the Palazzo della Pilotta, a monumental doorway in painted wood, surmounted by a ducal crown, leads us to the Teatro Farnese: a spectacular environment that still preserves the memory of the sumptuous court life of the Farnese Dukes. Almost completely destroyed by bombs in 1944 and rebuilt in modern times, today the theater restores to us one of the most extraordinary theatrical architectures of the 17th century.

The inauguration of the theater-already completed in 1619-occurred only in 1628, on the occasion of the wedding between Margherita de' Medici and Duke Odoardo, with an allegorical-mythological spectacle entitled "Mercury and Mars"-with text by Claudio Achillini and music by Claudio Monteverdi, enriched by a tournament and culminating in a spectacular naumachia, for which it was necessary to flood the stalls with an enormous amount of water, pumped through a series of tanks placed below the stage.

Given the complexity of the staging and operation of the stage machinery, as well as the high cost of the performances themselves, the theater was used only eight more times from 1652 to 1732, on the occasion of illustrious visits or weddings of the Farnese court. 

Already substantially neglected the Farnese was finally abandoned when Maria Luigia (Marie-Louise d’Autriche, Duchess of Parma and protector of the city from 1814 until her death) commissioned Nicola Bettoli to build the new Ducal Theater, known later as Teatro Regio, inaugurated in 1829.

Nevertheless, it is incessant throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the pilgrimage of princes, artists, men of letters, from Montesquieu to Stendhal, de Brosses to Dickens who stop in Parma precisely to admire it, regretting in their travel diaries the utterly dilapidated condition in which the hall is found: the cracked and rotten wood, the tattered painted canvases, the faded colors, the stains, the dirt and mess, even the rats master of the field, as Dickens indignantly points out.

The coup de grace was delivered by the Allied bombing raids, which on May 13, 1944, struck and severely damaged an imposing part of the historic Pilotta complex.

The reconstruction of the architectural structure was arranged and completed in 1962 and the Farnese finally returned to be an integral part of the city's cultural heritage. 


Palazzo della Pilotta: in the heart of Parma

The Palazzo della Pilotta is a group of buildings in Parma's historic center, named after the game of Basque pelota.

The entire building comprises three courtyards, known respectively as the San Pietro Martire courtyard (now known as the Pilotta), the Guazzatoio courtyard (originally known as the "pelota" courtyard) and the Racchetta courtyard. The Pilotta contained a gigantic salon, which soon became the Farnese Theatre, a large stable, the grooms' quarters, the riding hall, the mule stable, the coach house, the wardrobe, the Academy Hall and a series of galleries  delimiting the main courtyards.

This complex was to contain all the services intended for the real residence, the Ducal Palace. But the end of the Farnese family marked the end of the splendor of this building, which was ransacked after the accession of Charles I, who moved the entire Farnese patrimony to Naples. Under his brother Philip I of Parma, the building underwent a partial renaissance that continues to this day.

The Palazzo now houses the National Gallery, with some fantastic paintings - mainly from 1200 to 1800, with the Parmigianino, el Greco, Correggio and Rafaello only to name a few; the Teatro Farnese; the Museum of Archeology; the Palatina Library and the Museo Bodoniano.

Teatro Regio: a jewel of Italian Opera

The Teatro Regio di Parma (formerly "Nuovo Ducale Teatro") is the opera house in the city of Parma and considered by opera lovers one of the most important traditional theaters in Italy, just like La Scala in Milan and La Fenice in Venice.  

The façade is neo-classical; it is decorated with two Fame in bas-relief, and supported by ten ionic colums. The stalls are elliptical in shape, and the ceiling of the hall is decorated with figures of the greatest playwrights (Seneca, Goldoni, Alfieri, Euripides, Plautus, Aristophanes and Metastasio). 

The Teatro opened with La Zaira by Bellini in 1829 with little success at the time. Since then though, opera works by composers such as Puccini, Rossini, Verdi of course, gave the theater its full splendor. 20th and 21st centuries composers are also acclaimed nowadays, such as Nino Rota (Ariodante), Franco Battiato (Genesi), Enrico Melozzi (The little Prince).

The Verdi Festival takes place at the Teatro every year in October; furthermore, the theater celebrates dance every spring with Parma Danza and offers a season of classical and symphonic concerts. 

photo by Stefano Corrias