ALL ABOUT PARMA - IN ENGLISH!

Parma mia! is a blog for ex-pats and English-language speakers in Parma as well as for tourists who want to learn more. We've got lots of tips and tidbits to share: where to buy your foreign foods, favorite restaurants, what's on for kids during the weekends, local agricultural fairs, where you can find a babysitter or chiropractor and hints on how to make it through the bureaucratic maze that is Italy (see tabs below). This forum is for you: please share your ideas/events with us at parmamia@gmail.com or on FB at Parma Mia.

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Nature

Below:
Parks and Places to Visit
Hiking
Biking

Need green? Where to go:
L'Orto Botanico, or botanic garden, via Farini 90, is a little jewel with its old trees (some 250 years old), greenhouses, birds and frogs. Inside the garden you can find the Museum of Natural History.

Due to the high density of population and cultivated land, green areas are usually organised under the form of provincial or regional parks or natural reserves. Here are a few nice destinations very close to Parma (click on the name for location, opening hours, etc).

Parco Nevicati in Collechio, near the Parco del Taro (Corte di Giarola). A nice park with animals, a playground, rabbits roaming freely, a snack bar, and often special events.

Parco Boschi di Carrega in Sala Baganza. Used to be a hunting reserve for the Carrega princes, today a natural park with picnic tables, WC, visitors center.

Parco del Taro in Collecchio. Includes a bird reserve for birdwatching (open on weekends only).

Oasi Lipu in Torrile: the paradise for birdwatching. Herons, egrets, many species of ducks. Bring binoculars and a camera.

Monte Prinzera is a very easy hike (sentiero 7) and offers a beautiful view on the Taro valley.

Let's go up to the beautiful Appennino (minimum one hour drive):

Schia Monte Caio: the little ski resort is pleasant in winter and in summer (fresh air, no mosquitoes!). Ski lessons for kids aged 4 and up.

Parco Monte Fuso in Scurano: apart from the precinct welcoming 100 deers and moufflons, the park also offers horse riding, hiking (all levels) and archery. Picnic tables, barbecue, WC, bar.

Parco dei Cento Laghi in Corniglio: the name says it all, beautiful lakes (Lago Santo) in the Appennino mountains, but not only. A weekend is better to make the most of it, sleeping at the Rifugio Lagdei or Rifugio Mariotti. A wonderful mountain experience (book early!!).

Riserva Naturale dei Ghirardi in Borgo Val di Taro: this area is known for its beauty and biodiversity (including more than 30 species of orchids).

The Salti del Diavolo area offers spectacular landscapes. Path #1 described in the link (strada per Selva del Bocchetto) is easily done and very rewarding.

Outside the province of Parma:
In the province of Reggio Emilia la Pietra di Bismantova is famous (quite crowded on weekends, so get there early). It's easy to climb even with children (provided you have good shoes).
A completely different world in the valley of the Mincio river just north of Mantova. Check the website of Olympusacquae or Insolito Mincio for a 2-hour cruise on the river. Closer to Garda Lake, you can't miss the enchanting Sigurta gardens in Valleggio sul Mincio.

Near Modena, we've recently discovered Terramara di Montale open-air archeological museum, open on Sundays with kids' workshops
Worth visiting in the province of Modena as well is the lovely Salse di Nirano, or mud volcanos! Super fun (and safe). Not far from Manarello (Ferrari museum).
Smaller mud volcanos are also present in Traversetolo, Lesignano de' Bagni, but the most spectacular are in Nirano.

In the province of Piacenza the valley of the Trebbia river is absolutely gorgeous. The water is also very clean as no industry is allowed in this valley. Bobbio and Brugnello are worth a visit. A weekend is better to make the most of it.

Information sources:
Websites of parks and activities. There are also brochures at Parma Point via Garibaldi.
The Touring Club publishes useful guides (some translated in English) such as: Appennino Tosco-Emiliano (our area), Parchi e Aree Protette (all Italy) and Weekend nella Natura (all Italy). The guide Appennino Tosco-Emiliano of Club Alpino Italiano mentions more than 100 trekking itineraries, refuges, etc.
Parks.it is a website listing all parks and natural reserves of the country whereas Appenninoverde is focused on Emilia-Romagna (both in English, French and German).
parcoappennino.it is the website of the National Park of Appennino Tosco-Emiliano (also in English).
Turismo Emilia Romagna publishes guides to green areas of the region.

Hiking:
Consult local hikes and treks.

Club Alpino Italiano, Macigno Vivo, Valgotra&ValBaganzaTrekking Taro&Ceno, Trekking Val Chero e Nure , and Terre Emerse organise hikes for all levels, including for families with children (Family CAI for kids aged 4+, LiberiSpazi for kids aged 8+). You can also look up hike info (often with GPS details) on Valcentrek (Val Ceno and Val Parma)Alta Val Trebbia Camminate piacentine,.

You can find additional group hikes listed on other regional sites as well (Modena, Liguria etc.).

If you plan a day in the Appennino, always check the weather! In any season, it's always cooler/colder up there, and rain or wind are always more violent! Hiking shoes are highly recommended if only for comfort.

Biking:
This website offers a listing of bike roads (pista ciclabile). The ones North of Parma are usually the easiest (because it's flat), as well as along the Taro river. Visit also this page. You can rent bikes from March to November in the Po area.
FIAB-Bicinsieme is a cycling club.

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