Parma, Italy. Opera and good food: an uplifting combination.

As a tourist destination, Parma is perhaps not quite so well known as its neighbour, Bologna. In fact both cities are Italian culinary ‘meccas’ with the regional cuisine of the Emilia-Romagna considered the best in Italy.

Whilst Bologna has given the world bolognese sauce and nearby Modena, Balsamic vinegar, Parma gives us ‘Prosciutto di Parma’ (wonderful cured ham) and ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’, the Rolls Royce of parmesan cheese, made in the town for over 700 years. It is also the home of the Barilla pasta group which started making pasta there in 1877.

Architecturally, the city, which dates back to Etruscan times, is well worth a visit, especially the 11th century Duomo (Cathedral) and the nearby Benedictine monastery. Parma’s university is one of the oldest in the world.

The town is also the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi, its most famous citizen. In his honour, and for our pleasure, a month long festival is held from October 1 to 28 in and around Parma, reports The Telegraph. The main venue is the wonderfully elegant Teatro Regio, which offers performances of his operas with exhibitions and guided tours for visiting fans.

This year the main productions are Il Trovatore, The Sicilian Vespers and Attila. See www.teatroregioparma.org for details.

Ryan Air has flights to Bolgna from London’s Stansted and Gatwick airports.

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