Girls weekend away to Parma, Italy

In June, I visited my friend Becky who was studying on her year abroad in Parma, along with another friend, Maddy. I didn’t really know what to expect from this Italian city, but I was blown away by its regal, art-nouveau architecture and gastronomic heritage.

Friday night: Getting to Parma

Return flights from London Gatwick to Milan Malpensa cost me around £50, then you have to take either a coach or a train from the airport to Milan Centrale station. From the station it’s then about an hour and a half to Parma by train. As long as your train doesn’t break down (like mine did), the journey to Parma is pretty straight forward – just remember to validate your ticket before getting on the train!

Saturday: Exploring the city

Parma has a beautiful city centre, practically devoid of cars, which you can explore almost completely by foot. When we arrived there was a cooking show taking place in the main square with world-class chefs demonstrating how to make fresh pasta. You could while away an entire day here just walking around taking in the sights, shopping and of course, eating!

36707491_10214482063276618_4220178875855929344_n

36703856_10214482062916609_6275898284129124352_n

36815713_10214482062596601_6816454630256410624_n

36784564_10214482060676553_180060873182674944_n

36809904_10214482063116614_6494263342104838144_n

Just across the bridge and over the water is Parco Ducale, the perfect peaceful escape to take a blanket and a book for the afternoon. It’s a lovely walk in the sunshine and in the middle you’ll find Fontana del Trianon, home to fish and even turtles!

34199865_1702673773182195_7559484526515191808_n

36841822_10214482062156590_7946638225810915328_n

One place you HAVE to go for the best ice cream in Parma is Emilia Cremeria. Prepare to queue out the door, but it’s so worth it. They have the most amazing flavours to choose from including lemon meringue pie, pistachio, coconut and biscottini. They also pour chocolate into the bottom of your cone which is a nice surprise.

36734011_10214482062676603_7602988769947418624_n

36743646_10214482062396596_2607062994261114880_n

When it comes to the evening, a hugely popular thing to do is ‘aperativo’, something I’d not heard of before my visit. Aperativo is basically drinks and nibbles before dinner, but because it’s Italy and Parma is the “gastronomic heart” of the country, it’s way better than that.

We went to Arte & Gusto around 9pm and all you need to purchase is a drink, so I got a mojito for 9 euros and then you have access to their incredible all-you-can-eat buffet. There’s cured meats and cheeses, stuffed aubergines, delicious pastas, pizzas, potatoes, amazing salads and the best part, it’s all free!

36718476_10214482062476598_7410524774243237888_n

If you’re looking for a more traditional dinner arrangement however, I’d suggest paying the Trattoria Corrieri Parma restaurant a visit. The food is very fresh, simple and classically-Italian, making for a real authentic dining experience in a rustic setting.

36767818_10214482060916559_1773565191074611200_n

Sunday: Taking a trip to Cinque Terre

With such great train connections, it’s really easy to visit the coast from Parma. A trip I’d definitely recommend is town hopping through Cinque Terre, a string of 5 old seaside villages along the rugged Italian Riviera coastline.

The train is direct and takes 2 and a half hours (so get up early and bring snacks!), and once you’re there you can either buy a day pass to all 5 stops, or buy as you go. Each town costs 4 euros to get to by train. We managed to see 3 out of the 5 towns in one day.

First stop, Riomaggiore.

36801009_10214482061836582_12572576161202176_n

With colourful houses that cling to steep terraces and harbours filled with fishing boats, this magical little village is an absolute must-see.

36730911_10214482061676578_7827788109839335424_n

Next we visited the glorious beach of Monterosso al Mare for a spot of sunbathing.

36728475_10214482061876583_8122976212751482880_n

36838652_10214482062036587_3075275306391568384_n

There’s plenty of seafront restaurants to stop off at for lunch or just a coffee with a view.

And lastly, we managed to visit the quaint hilltop town of Corniglia, which offers incredible views of sweeping sea vistas and dramatic cliff faces.

34848693_1709041139212125_5227239348310638592_n

I’d recommend getting yourself an ice cream for the trek back down to the station (382 steps!)

Overall, Parma is a great city for a food-filled weekend away and the perfect base for loads of possible day trips around Italy and down to the coast. I’d say it’s perfect for a girls weekend or romantic trip for two.

And don’t forget to make enough time to explore Milan on the way home…

36806985_10214482061156565_8419497924483874816_n

36792539_10214482061076563_5453521718935027712_n

I hope this post has given you some ideas if you’re planning a city break in the sun this summer. For more advice on travelling in Italy, check out my post on exploring the Amalfi Coast on a budget. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a message!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s