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City of aristocratic cultural traditions, rich in important monuments, precious works of art and memories of its past as a capital, famous for its celebrated sons and the artists who left here significant works –  think for a moment of Benedetto Antelami, Correggio, Parmigianino, Bodoni, Bottesini, Paer, Verdi and Toscanini – the poets, writers, film directors who have found inspiration in Parma, first of all Stendhal, who in the pages of his “Chartreuse” imagined it in a fantastical way; in fact, Parma is quite distinct from the many other beautiful medium sized towns which attract visitors to Italy.
Parma has witnessed each major artistic era and civilization change; it gained prestige in Europe with  the Farnese and Bourbon  dynasties, becoming known in the XVIII century as the “ Athens of Italy”, and by the enlightened government of Maria Luisa of Austria.
Parma is a unique city for many reasons, amongst which we can cite the refined social life and manifold cultural interests, the dynamic entrepreneurship as witnessed by the industrial corporations and  trade fair centre, the love for good quality food and hospitality combined with conviviality which stem from the glorious local foodstuffs.
 
Parma is 52 metres above sea level and extends on either side the banks of the river of the same name in the middle of an ample fertile plain delimitated to the North by the river Po and to the South by the Apennine mountain range.
The origins of the city are ancient with traces of a bronze age settlement and both  Celtic and Etruscan cultures, but Parma was founded as a Roman colony along the Via Emilia by the Consul Marco Emilio Lepido in 183 B.C. as part of Cispadanian Gaul and during the Imperial period it was able to use the appellation of Julia and Augusta.  From this Imperial period remain important traces in the Theatre and Amphitheatre.
A flourishing municipality during the Middle Ages thanks to the important Wool Guild, the city was torn apart by the struggle between the Guelf and Ghibelline factions and  passed under the domination of the Visconti family followed by the Sforza family and then the French and the Pope until, finally, in 1545 together with the nearby city of Piacenza, it was declared a Duchy by Pope Paul III for his son PierLuigi Farnese.  This dynasty was to rule Parma for almost two centuries, leaving evidence of its greatness and achievements in the many works of art and monuments which still adorn the city.
In 1731 the male line of the Farnese died out and the Duchy, with Parma as its capital, passed to the Bourbon family after a brief period of Austrian domination. The Bourbons brought a completely French spirit to the life of the court which pervaded all aspects of cultural and artistic life.
From 1802 to 1814 the city was subject to Napoleonic domination and was the capital of the Taro department of the French Empire. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the city was assigned to Maria Luigia, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte and daughter of the Austrian Emperor, Francis Ist.
 
In 1847 on the death of Maria Luigia, the Duchy returned to the Bourbon family. On the assassination in 1854 of Carlo III his widow, Luisa Maria di Berry, took the regency in the name of her son Robert until, in 1859, a popular uprising compelled her to leave the Duchy, which she did  with dignity.

On the 18th March 1860 in a solemn plebiscite Parma sacrificed its glorious past as a capital city to the Unification of Italy.

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created: 20/11/2003
modified: 27/04/2007
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