Foodies flock to the Parma area for cheese, ham, and more, while cyclists love the area because it’s relatively flat compared to much of the rest of Italy. But there’s another great reason to visit the area: there are some incredible castles near Parma. Here are five of my favorites.
Almost 600 years old, this magnificent castle is about 10 miles from Parma and open all year to visitors. I think this castle sells itself with the photo above, but for opening hours, ticket prices, guided tours and more, here’s everything you need to know about Torrechiara.
Described as the ultimate example of military architecture in the region, the Bardi fortress was built over 800 years ago, though some form of fortress has stood on the rock for over a thousand years. You’ll see rooms decorated for Renaissance aristocrats as well as dungeons, lookout towers, soldiers’ quarters and even a torture chamber. Lots of information about visiting Bardi here. The photo below is a view from a window of the castle, and here’s a gorgeous photo of the castle itself.
This castle is conveniently located in the center of a small town and has a real moat surrounding it. Don’t miss the inside for incredible frescoes and the spy tower where visitors can still watch the activity in the town’s main square thanks to a series of lenses and prisms. Everything you need to know about visiting the Rocca San Vitale in Fontanellato.
You’ll need a guided visit to see Roccabianca, but it’s worth organizing. This 500-year old castle has impressive paintings and frescoes inside, and visitors can also see where cured meats were hung, where balsamic vinegar was matured, and even visit the distillery museum. Lots of information on Roccabianca here.
An entirely satisfying castle visit, Rivalta is gorgeous from the outside and surrounded by a huge park. Inside, visitors can see a luxurious residence with a hall of honor, a billiard room, bedrooms and kitchen in addition to the usual dungeons included on castle tours. And if you’re going to be in the area for New Year’s Eve, the dinner and entertainment at Rivalta is a lot of fun. Lots of information on Rivalta here.
Keep in mind that castles can get chilly, so are a great activity for a hot summer day, but in cooler weather bring a sweater. Always check opening days and times, and whether a guided tour is required to visit the inside. And if the whole family is going, here are suggestions on visiting castles with kids.
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