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4 Dishes to Try While on Vacation in Parma

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The famous Parma prosciutto and parmesan with green olives

The famous Parma prosciutto and parmesan with green olives

The four dishes you can try in Parma on your Italy trip are less about satiation and more about taking pleasure in a meal, an ingredient, and a local delicacy.

Small villages in the Bronze Age gave way to Celtic and Etruscan settlements before the ancient Roman road connected the peninsula. The city became famous throughout medieval Europe as a center for great art, science, and philosophy, resulting in an influx of nobility whose tastes for a good meal refined local palates.

By focusing on regional and seasonal ingredients, home and professional chefs develop bolder, more nuanced flavors, and these are four dishes that highlight those efforts.

  1. 1. Prosciutto di Parma DOP
  2. 2. Parmigiano Reggiano DOP
  3. 3. Provolone Valpadana DOP
  4. 4. Torta Duchessa
  5. Discover the Best Dishes to Try on Your Trip to Parma

1. Prosciutto di Parma DOP

Prosciutto di Parma with rosemary sprig and olives

Prosciutto di Parma

Prosciutto di Parma is cured meat that has been made the same way for over 2,000 years. The producer rubs and massages the hind legs of pork with salt proportionate to the weight of the meat before washing the rind and allowing the meat to dry and age for up to 12 months.

The simple curing and straightforward aging processes produce unparalleled chestnut and pine grove aromas that carry from the meat. They also add to the enticing sweet flavor created by the simple production and special provincial microclimate.

2. Parmigiano Reggiano DOP

World famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Parma is known for crafting quality cheese from cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk, and has made celebrated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP for at least nine centuries. The cheese has become globally famous for its hard, granular texture, tasty crystals, and rich, nutty aroma.

The renowned cheese has origins dating back to the Middle Ages, with historical documents recording the production thereof as early as the 13th century. Parmigiano Reggiano even earned praise from Italian writer Bocaccio in his iconic 14th-century collection of stories, Decameron.

3. Provolone Valpadana DOP

Provolone Valpadana

Provolone Valpadana

Provolone is made from whole cow’s milk. It has a semi-hard texture, white or straw color, and comes in a variety of shapes. The delicious cheese retains a buttery and sweet flavor, shifting to a subtle piquant taste when aged.

The cheese is made in the neighboring province of Piacenza, which has a long history with Parma. Piacenza is the only city south of the Po River producing Provolone Valpadana and has creative cheesemakers who experiment with its shapes and sizes.

4. Torta Duchessa

Parma is not really known for its desserts, but the sweet confections and delicious creations crafted over the centuries have resulted in the memorable taste of Torta Duchessa. The cake brings to life robust chocolate and nutty flavors.

The dessert was named for Duchess Maria Luigia and has a rich flavor, combined with a slightly sweet, alcoholic taste. The cake is known for its elegant style, reflective of Parma’s traditional pastries, with ingredients like hazelnut flour, grated lemon peel, dark chocolate ganache, and Marsala.

Discover the Best Dishes to Try on Your Trip to Parma

Street cafe, Parma, Italy

Parma, Italy

The local ingredients and dishes of Parma represent dynamic flavors that reflect the province’s gastronomic heritage in tandem with contemporary life. The dimensions of quality products have developed for over a millennium, while welcoming the influence of international communities over time, shaped by the surrounding cities of Emilia-Romagna.

You can find inspiration for your personalized culinary trip with our Italy food tours and vacation packages, or learn more about how you can enjoy your perfect vacation with Zicasso’s Italy food and wine travel guide.

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