Thursday, July 9th:
The train ride from Reggio Emilia to Parma is only 15 minutes. With the train running 10 minutes late, I arrived in Parma at 1:35. I was starving! I considered eating lunch in Reggio Emilia but couldn't pass up having a meal in Parma. The tour guide from Bologna recommended a restaurant in Parma called Sorelle Picchi but I forgot to look up where it was on the map and gave up looking after about 10 minutes. I was concerned that many of the restaurants would be closing soon and I did not want to miss out on a sit down meal in Parma.
I remembered eating at a wonderful restaurant near the Duomo. As I headed up a little street behind the Duomo area where I thought the restaurant was located, I saw this cute little restaurant called Ristorante La Forchetta.
It turned out to be a fabulous choice! I ordered tortelli di zucca alla parmigiana (little ravioli filled with pumpkin and covered in butter and parmesan cheese). As I took my first bite... WOW!!! Incredible!! The homemade bread was also soooo delicious! It was one of the best meals I had in Italy this summer. The only complaint I had was that I was so stuffed after eating the tortelli and bread that I had no room for any dessert.
After I rolled out of the restaurant, I had a little time to kill before everything opened up again at 3. Perfect time to take some photos. I headed straight for the beautiful Piazza Garibaldi. The Palazzo del Governatore with its very cool astronomical clock is one of my favorite buildings in Parma.
After taking a few photos in Piazza Garibaldi, I walked back to the Piazza del Duomo.
The pink and white marble octagonal Baptistery in Parma is my favorite baptistery in all of Italy. I am going to do another post just on the Baptistery in Parma so that I can share more of my photos of this incredible baptistery.
I bought a cumulative ticket for both the Baptistery and the nearby Museo Diocesano (which cost 5 euros). This would be my first time visiting the Museo Diocesano. This small museum is located diagonally across the piazza in the basement of the building. Two very kind women were working at the desk when I arrived.
After showing my ticket and chatting for a bit, one woman accompanied me down to the basement. I was the only one in the museum. She was so impressed that I came all the way from Hawaii to visit Parma. She wanted to know all about my trip, how long it took for me to travel to Italy, how I learned Italian, etc. She was very nice and I enjoyed chatting with her even though it made it difficult to pay attention to any of the sculptures and other art in the museum. She continued to ask me questions and carry on a conversation during my entire visit except when my phone rang.
I usually try to remember to turn it off when going into a church or museum. I wasn't sure if she would be upset that I had my phone on. Not a problem. It was Jane calling me. We were going to meet in Bologna the following evening for dinner. Jane just arrived in Bologna and had no idea I was in Parma for the afternoon. The phone call reminded me of one of the "Can you hear me now" Verizon commercials. I could hear Jane just fine but she could not hear me. She finally said she would send me an SMS (text message). My first clue that rain was in the area (or at least in Bologna) was when I read her SMS a few minutes later.
When I walked into the museum, the weather was sunny and warm. Thirty minutes later when I walked outside, the skies were gray (and black in the distance). I could hear the sound of thunder and it was just starting to rain.
I ran across the piazza and headed into the Duomo. The inside of the Duomo in Parma is one of my favorite Duomos in Italy. I only wish there was more light in this Duomo to truly appreciate all of the beautiful frescoes.
View of the inside of the Duomo looking towards the altar.
View of the inside of the Duomo looking back towards the doorway.
After reading Sandra's fun post, I was very excited to check out the Assumption of the Virgin fresco by Correggio . I am thinking that the cupola must not have been lit or perhaps I was just overwhelmed by all of the other incredible art work to take notice of this fresco the last time I was inside this Duomo.
I was hoping that the storm had passed after spending quite a bit of time inside the Duomo. Unfortunately, it was raining even harder and the temperature was dropping.
I usually always take my raincoat with me just in case when going on a daytrip, but because the skies were so blue when I left Bologna in the morning, I did not even think about taking a jacket. I do always carry one of those little portable plastic see-through rain ponchos that fold up and fit nicely into a tiny bag with me when I am traveling. You know, the kind that will never fit into that bag again once you use the raincoat once. These rain ponchos make me think of my grandmother because she had a rain hat made out of that same see-through plastic and she always carried and wore it when it rained. I took the raincoat out of the little bag and put it on. Now if only I had something for my feet. My chaco sandals were not the best type of footwear to be wearing in this type of weather.
I had one other must stop while in Parma before heading back to the train station - the K2 Gelateria. Although I have not been back in Parma since 2003, I remembered just where this gelateria was located. Even with the rainy weather outside, it was packed with people inside ordering gelato. I ordered caffe and pistacchio. In my opinion, Grom still wins out for taste but K2 wins for presentation.
I always find it so interesting that as soon as it starts to rain in Italy, people pop up on every corner selling umbrellas. When leaving the gelateria, I dodged the umbrella salesmen and headed back towards the train station. The one time the porticoes in Bologna would have been very useful, I was in Parma where there was little cover. I stood under a restaurant umbrella to take this photo.
As I walked back to the train station, I noticed this interesting tower.
The tourist information office was nearby. I stopped inside and asked if it was possible to climb the tower I just saw or if there were any other towers in Parma that could be climbed. None. Onward to the train station I went. I made it to the train station with about 10 minutes to spare to catch the one hour 17:29 train back to Bologna.
On the ride back, as I sat near the door in on of the train cars, I watched a gypsy conference (or yelling) in one of the connecting areas between two of the trains. A bunch of young girls were being yelled at or given orders by who I assumed was the leader or the boss of the gang. When the person checking the tickets came down the aisle the girls scattered. I have seen confrontations with these gypsies quite a few times this summer on trains, resulting in the gypsies being kicked off the trains since they don't have tickets.
We passed by some pretty nasty rain as we traveled back to Bologna. When we arrived in Bologna, the train station was packed. It was not raining outside at the moment but the skies were threatening. I am going to stop here and write about my bus ride adventure back to the center in another post.
I am so glad I decided to add a second stop in Parma after visiting Reggio Emilia. I love Parma. I have decided that the next time I stay in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, I am going to stay in Parma for a few nights again.