The first groupings of human habitation in Parma probably date back to the Bronze Age, even if more reliable evidence suggests that permanent settlements began during the time of the first civilisations. Amongst these first civilisations was that of the Boi Gauls, a Celtic population. Parma soon become a Roman colony. During this period its name was born, from the Latin Parma, which means shield and refers to the form of the town itself. Later the town was defeated by the Lombards, during the period in which the Parma segment of the Via Francigena was defined, and then by the Franks. The constitution of the municipality put an end to the High Medieval crisis. For several years Parma passed from one noble family to the other before it became the Duchy of Farnese. As a result of the decline of the noble family, power was taken by the Bourbons until 15th September 1859, the year in which the fall of the dynasty was declared. Parma then became part of the provinces of Emilia, governed by Carlo Farini, and in 1860 it was included in the Kingdom of Italy. All the area around the city bears witness to its splendid past, which explains why all who visit fall in love with it. Monticelli Terme, one of the most beautiful spa resorts in Italy, lies only ten kilometres away from Parma. The salty waters of the town were discovered by chance in 1924 and gave way to the transformation of the town into the renowned spa resort which everyone knows today.
An ideal visit to the city could begin in the Piazzale della Pace, where there is the historic Palazzo della Pilotta and the Teatro Farnese. From there you can easily reach the Camera di San Paolo, where you can admire the splendid fresco by Correggio. For any visitor to Parma, a visit to the Piazza del Duomo is essential. The Duomo or cathedral is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Italy, with its sloping façade designed by sculptor Benedetto Anelami. Inside there are Palaeochristian mosaics that bear witness to the presence of a building used for religious purposes already in the 5th century. The Baptistery is also worth visiting, where there is one of the most important works by Benedetto Antelami, Cycles of the months and seasons of the year. Also of great interest are the monastic church of San Giovanni Evangelista, dating back to the 10th century but characterised by a Baroque façade added later, and the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Steccata, a notable example of Renaissance architecture. Apart from artistic beauties, there are also notable natural attractions. The land of Verdi is surprising in the sweetness of its landscapes, and Monticelli is a characteristic oasis of well-being with splendid spa resorts immersed in the green of a huge natural park.
Parma is a town rich in cultural and artistic life. Some events are unique to the whole of Italy, such as the international festival of scientific cinema Prix Leonardo, organised by the non profit-making body Fondazione Medikinale, with film from all over the world, inquests and investigations by independent directors and public television companies. Also of interest is the Vetrina Europa, an international festival for infancy and childhood, organised by the Teatro delle Briciole, which proposes original theatre productions on the theme of childhood. More traditional proposals come from the Teatro Due. For lovers of tradition a visit to the "temple" of classical music, the Teatro Regio, is indispensable.