There is more to Parma than food, I was surprised to discover. Walk around. The Piazza Garibaldi has a bronze statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, considered the founding father of the country of Italy. On one side of the square is the Governor’s Palace which has a central bell tower with an interesting and large clockface that also shows the time in other parts of the world.

Museo Glauco Lombardi

It seems that everywhere I go in northern Italy, Napoleon’s footprint is evident. As we headed back to the train station, we stumbled upon this museum that displays over a thousand works of art and personal objects collected from the 18th and 19th centuries, mainly focused on the history of Parma and the dukedom of Marie Louise of Austria, the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Museo Glauco Lombardi contains numerous portraits, letters, paintings, medals, fishing tools, sewing objects and other personal effects that depict objects of everyday life among the high society of the time. Two silken gowns embroidered in silver thread are on display, including the dress Marie Louise wore on her inauguration day. Marie Louise was the daughter of the Emperor of Austria who imposed on her the marriage to Napoleon when she was only eighteen years old.

The marriage was for political purposes and she bore Napoleon his much needed male heir (known at the “King of Rome”) in 1811. After the fall of the French Empire, the Congress of Vienna gave Marie Louise the government of Parma. She arrived in Parma in April 1816, accompanied by her Prime Minister, General Neipperg, who later became her second husband.

Sadly, she was forced to leave her son from her marriage to Napoleon in Vienna when she moved to Parma, but she remarried and bore two more children. The Duke of Rome died shortly after his father died.

There is a lot more to Parma than food, but clearly the focus is on culinary magic. Just walk off your calories for your next meal by visiting some of these sights- you won’t be sorry!