Palazzo del Governatore in the Piazza Garibaldi in Parma, Italy

Saturday Morning Stopping in Parma

We had arranged to stay in the seaside town of Porto Venere on the first night in Italy. The best route to Porto Venere from Milan took us through Parma, so we stopped to do some siteseeing and have lunch.

Hertz NeverLost

The Hertz NeverLost GPS. Wherever we were when this photo was taken, we were not using the GPS for directions at the time.

We had rented a Hertz car with the Neverlost GPS system. I think the best decision I made on this trip was to reserve the GPS with the car. We could have found our way without it, but it would have been MUCH more work and stress!

We used the GPS to make our way to the A1/E35 highway and headed east toward Parma. I had found out ahead of time that there are lanes at the toll booths where you can used a credit card to pay the toll. You just have to look for the lanes with the blue signal and the Viacard sign. It's a good thing, because I had forgotten to get some money from an ATM before leaving the airport.

It was Saturday, so trucks were not allowed on the highways, and there wasn't a lot of traffic.

I was unsure of the speed limits on the highway. I saw signs that I assumed were speed limit signs that had a 60 inside a circle and I assumed that the speed limit was 60 km/hr. And then there were signs with three sections that had 0 (zero) on the right, 60 in the center and 90 on the left. Since there were three lanes, I figured that meant that the speed limit was 60+0 in the right lane, 60+60 in the middle land and 60+90 in the left lane. So I stayed in the middle lane and kept my speed around 120 km/hr just to be safe in case my assumptions were wrong. I thought that 150 km/hr was a bit high. As it was, I still had cars come up behind me flashing their lights.

It turns out that I was correct about the speed limits. And the 150 km/hr translates to about 90 miles/hour so it wasn't as bad as I thought. But, 90 mph would have been pushing that little Fiat Panda a bit anyway.

Driving to Parma

The route from Milan to Porto Venere, Italy

Here is the route from Milan to Portovenere. You can see that the Malpensa airport is actually well to the west of Milan. Also, the route takes us east on the A1/E35 as far as Parma, then south on the A15/E33 toward the coast.

Below are some views from the car as we drove to Parma. Hay and corn were the main crops we saw along the way.

McDonalds in Italy

Here is a McDonalds we saw at a rest area on the highway. You'll notice that we are continuing on past and not stopping.

Bales of Hay in Italy Here are some hay bales like the ones we saw from the plane.

Roadside scene
Roadside scene

Autogrill along the highway in Italy

We stopped at this rest area with an Autogrill. We had used Autogrills several times on our previous trip to Italy. We have not seen anything like them in the US in highway rest areas even though the Autogrill company owns many rest stops along US highways.
They have an area where you can buy sandwiches, grilled or not, an area with hot foods, and a section like a small grocery/convenience store where you can buy many products.

I looked for an ATM here, but did not find one. I must have just not seen it because I am sure there must have been one there.

Below are a couple of more photos taken along the way to Parma.

Bales of Hay in Italy More bales of hay
Autogrill along the highway in Italy An Autogrill over the highway

Lunch in Parma

Intersection in Parma

This is an intersection in Parma near where we parked. You can see the little restaurant where we ate lunch to the right behind the trees. The cables overhead are electric cables for electric busses. The street straight ahead is the Strada della Republica

Bar Moderno

And here is the restaurant. The woman who was working there didn't speak English, but luckily the menu was mostly pictures and we we able to get a very fine lunch.

Exploring Parma

We walked down the Strada della Republica, not really knowing where we were going. I knew where I wanted to go, but with the jet lag and unfamiliarity with the area, I was a bit disoriented at this point.

Parma, Italy One of the electic busses


This photo is a close-up of the entryway of a building in Parma.


And this is the sign next to the entrance which, along with the police cars we could see through the openning, shows it to be some kind of government building, possibly the police headquarters.

Courtyard in Parma

This is an interesting courtyard, which appeared to be an apartment building.

Church in Parma

Here is a church with an unfinished facade. This is not unusual to see in Italy. Many times a community would put up the money and labor to build a church and then not have the funds to finish the facade. As we will see, it is the same with the church of San Lorenzo in Florence.

We continued walking down this street, and saw some interesting sights as we neared the Piazza Garibaldi.

Parma, Italy An interesting detail on a building in Parma

Sculpture in Parma

This is an interesting sculpture of two naked men wrestling. It seemed strange at the time to stumble upon something like this.

Building in Parma

I found this building quite interesting also. You can see where portions of old architectural elements have been bricked up to allow more modern windows to be installed. What I found most interesting is that they didn't brick up the entire thing, just enough to fit the windows.

Piazza Garibaldi

As we walked through the archways in the photo above, we entered the Piazza Garibaldi, although I didn't realize it at the time.

Palazzo del Municipio in Parma I believe that this building is the Palazzo del Municipio (Town Hall; 1627-73)
On the left, the "Cassa di Risparmio di Parma" is the Savings Bank of Parma

Palazzo del Governatore in Parma

This building is the Palazzo del Governatore. If you look closely you can see the astronomical clock on the facade of the building, below the regular clock.
If I had realized where I was at the time I would have gotten a close-up of the astronomical clock.

Palazzo del Governatore in Parma
Here is a blow-up of the astronomical clock from the above photo

Looking for the duomo

Parmigianino Sculpture in Parma

We walked around the corner to the left of the Palazzo del Governatore and came upon this statue of Parmigianino, a nickname meaning "the little one from Parma." He was a painter who painted in the early to mid 1500s and was a student of Correggio.

Madonna With the Long Neck

One of Parmigianino's more famous paintings is known as the Madonna With the Long Neck (La Madonna del Collo Lungo.) It is an oil on wood painting, done in 1534-1540 and is unfinished because of his death. His paintings are characterized by elongation of form which is evident in this painting in the swan-like neck, the long slender fingers, the long leg of the angel and the overall feeling that the whole painting is elongated.

Madonna della Steccata in Parma

Nearby is the Madonna della Steccata (1521-39.) It was modeled on St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and follows the Greek-cross plan that was the original design of St. Peter's.

Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo in Parma

This photo shows a closer view of the cathedral and a good view of the campanile. The octagonal building on the right is the baptistery. At one time, people could not enter the church unless they were baptised, so the baptistery was a separate building. I have not found out why the baptisteries were usually octagonal.

Piazza del Duomo in Parma

Then we finally found the street that leads to the Piazza del Duomo. Here you can see the campanile (bell tower) and baptistery of the cathedral.

Duomo in Parma

And here is another, closer, view of the cathedral. In the dome is a huge fresco of the "Assumption of the Virgin" by Correggio (1526-30.) In the south transept is a relief by Benedetto Antelami of the Descent from the Cross (1178), originally on a pulpit. In the crypt are some beautiful pillars and early Christian floor mosaics.

Doors of the baptistery in Parma This photo is a detailed view of the doors of the baptistery.
San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma

Behind the cathedral is the convent church of San Giovanni Evangelista. It is a renaissance building (1510) with a baroque facade (1607.) The tower was built in 1614. Some frescoes by Correggio and Parmigianino are inside.

San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma This is a better view of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista

We walked back to the car and headed out to Portovenere.

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