The countryside around Parma is a strange mixture: some of the major roads follow bleak gorges, skirting the edge of blank rock walls for kilometres; others look as if they will lead precisely nowhere before emerging into meadows and orchards with rich farmland stretching into the distance.

Prime targets are any of the twenty medieval castles strung out across the foothills to the south, many built by the powerful Farnese dynasty. The website castellidelducato.it has a useful map locating all the castles and can help you plan a tour. It’s also worth buying a Castelli del Ducato card, available from tourist offices or the castles themselves, that will give you a reduction on admission fees and is valid for a year.

One of the finest castles is at TORRECHIARA (March–Oct Wed–Sat 8.30am–7.30pm, Tues & Sun 10.30am–7.30pm; Nov–Feb Tues–Fri 9am–4.30pm, Sat & Sun 10am–5pm), about 18km south of Parma. It provides a superb vantage point over the surrounding area and also has frescoes by Bembo in its Camera d’Oro.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Where to find the best beaches in Italy

Where to find the best beaches in Italy

From secluded coves to lively seafronts, there are plenty of places to sun worship in Italy. But with an increasing number of hotels charging for access to the …

20 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Video: the 1 minute guide to Italy

Video: the 1 minute guide to Italy

Italy has long been one of Europe's most popular destinations. From the magnificent remnants of ancient Rome to the coolest in contemporary culture, secret beac…

08 Jun 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Not so long ago, Turin (Torino) – Italy’s great northern powerhouse – was largely ignored by tourists, unfairly dismissed as little more than a giant Fiat…

26 May 2017 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right