The Ducal City
Bound to Verdi's opera and famous for its passionate and demanding audience, the Teatro Regio was commissioned by Maria Luigia and erected in 1821-29 in the Benedictine convent of St. Alexander, according to a project by Nicola Bettoli. It has a neoclassical facade, formed by an architrave portico supported by ten Ionic order columns of granite, surmounted by a double row of windows, including the circular one decorated on the sides, two bas-reliefs depicting the "Fama" by the sculptor Tommaso Bandini, and a triangular pediment with a central Lira. Girolamo Magnani took care of the interior decorations, while the painter Gian Battista Borghesi was the author of the ceiling and the curtain. The theater, one of the most important and famous temples of music in Italy, represented the dreaded "test bed" for opera singers and was inaugurated on May 16, 1829 with the opera Zaira, written by Vincenzo Bellini for the occasion.
Palazzo della Pilotta
The immense and unfinished complex, whose name is reminiscent of the Basque game of pelota that was practiced in one of the courtyards, was built in the second half of the sixteenth century by order of Ranuccio in the heart of the city. The building, characterized by large interconnecting bodies that contain wide patios and small courtyards, counts among the names of the architects Giovanni Boscoli, Paciotto Francesco and Simone Moschino, author of the monumental staircase with three flights covered by an impressive octagonal dome. The Farnese palace, which was constructed in a span of several years, it was not meant to be a residence, but a service container of the court and the state with stables, barns, halls of arms, theater and barracks. These important structures will form the nucleus of the great institutions arisen in the first half of the nineteenth century and still housed in the building: the National Gallery (1822), the Museum of Antiquities and the Palatine Library (1834).
It is one of the most important Italian art galleries for the number and high quality of the exhibits, many of them signed by the undisputed masters. The collections include paintings from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, attributed to major schools and Italian art, but there are masterpieces of Flemish painting, Dutch, Spanish and French, while the core is made of paintings from the school of Parma and the Emilia region from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. This important collection of paintings was born initially through the collections of the Academy of Fine Arts and the Borbonic collecting, then incremented with the Napoleonic suppressions and the acquisition of several private collections that were likely to go missing. In the entrance of the gallery lays a massive wooden portal surmounted by the ducal coat of arms. Surprising is to find yourself in front of the Teatro Farnese, one of the most impressive and beautiful historic theaters in the world, which is the spectacular atrium of the Galleria. The Gallery became National in 1945.
The Teatro Farnese
The Farnese Theatre, a magnificent building and a perfect example of the great tradition of spectacular courts from the Po valley, is located on the first floor of the Palazzo della Pilotta. It was built under Ranuccio I who wanted to pay homage with a proper staging Cosimo II de 'Medici’s stop in Parma, during his trip to Milan. That journey never took place, and the theater, built in what was originally the vast armory of the Palazzo della Pilotta, was inaugurated only in 1628, for the magnificent wedding of Margherita de 'Medici, daughter of Cosimo II, and the Duke Odoardo Farnese. G.B. Aleotti was the creator and producer: he drew a large semi-oval with auditorium with 14 steps surmounted by two orders of loggias in serliane, the first Doric, the second Ionic. The building, installed in a space of exceptional dimensions (22m high, 87m long 32m wide), ends in a penthouse balcony. The theater was built with little durable materials (wood, stucco, straw and rags) so, after the last performance in 1732 it declined inexorably: it was almost totally destructed in May of 1944 for the Allied bombings. In the 50s it was rebuilt according to the original design and with the same materials, but the rich array of illusion was never reproduced in whole.
The large green park, spread over an area of about 20 hectares, with rich ancient trees, is one of the rare examples of a princely park. Created in 1561 by Duke Ottavio, the park was enlarged in the '700 and, under Maria Luigia, took inspiration from the French gardens. The greatest architects, sculptors and painters of the time such as JB Boudard, E. Petitot, Vignola, B. Bossi, Jacopo Bertoja and Agostino Carracci took part in the work. Inside the park there is the ancient "Palazzo Ducale", the "Mansion Eucherio Sanvitales" and a series of modern buildings, used for social and cultural activities. The Ducal Palace, currently Carabinieri headquarters, is also used for exhibitions and cultural activities. Of particular beauty is the Arcadia grove, with the remains of a small temple and a pond in the center of which stands the fountain of Trianon from the Ducal Palace of Colorno.