FEATURES » Parma awarded the title of Italian capital of culture 2018

Parma awarded the title of Italian capital of culture 2018

Not only Parma is famous for its ham and parmigiano cheese and its valuable historical heritage, but also for its ability to plan cultural activities which is the reason for it being awarded the title of Italian capital of culture 2020. 

The jury defined Parma "a virtuous and extremely high-quality example of local culturally based planning". Parma beat off competition from fellow finalists Agrigento, Bitonto, Casale Monferrato, Macerata, Merano, Nuoro, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Treviso. After Mantua 2016, Pistoia 2017, Palermo 2018 and Matera in 2019 (at the European level), Parma will thus be showcasing Italian culture and its uniqueness in 2020. This choice balances out the more recent choices in the south – Palermo 2018, and European Capital of Culture 2019 Matera. This is the second great success for Parma after it was named UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy in 2015, becoming the first Italian city to be awarded this title.

Parma has always had the allure of an international, cultured, cosmopolitan city. It was at the centre of several wars in the Italian peninsula during the 14th and 15th centuries and the French held the city for many years in the early sixteenth century. It then became part of the Papal States, only to be detached from them in 1545 by the Farnese pope Paul III, who gave it and Piacenza to his illegitimate son, whose descendants ruled it for almost two hundred years.

During the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century, Parma was annexed to France. Prior to and during World War II it was a centre of partisan resistance against fascism.

Parma is home to one of the oldest universities in the world. Arturo Toscanini, one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and of the 20th century, was born there, and a museum has been erected in his honour. The composer Giuseppe Verdi was also closely linked to the city. 

Among the activities scheduled for Parma’s mandate as cultural capital there is the opening to the public of the Old Hospital in Oltretorrente, the enhancement of the Study Centre and archive of the University of Parma, the creation of "La città delle muse" which will bring music and art to the suburbs with the contribution of the "Arrigo Boito" Conservatory. The productions will have as centre the Teatro Regio, that besides a special edition of the Verdi Festival, will have a special season all dedicated to the twentieth century, with the help of the Fondazione Toscanini and Fondazione Teatro Due. There are also four open calls on the agenda in which Italian and international artists will be invited to describe Parma from their unprecedented point of view.    

Giulia Lombardo

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