A rugby fan’s guide to… Parma
Welsh, Scottish, Irish and now South African rugby fans can look forward to visiting Italy to see their team play.
Parma-based Zebre are one of two Italian teams in the Guinness PRO14, and will be looking to improve on their 12th-place finish from the 2016-17 season.
Here’s what you need to know about making a trip to Parma.
A favourite with food-lovers, Parma is situated in northern Italy, between Bologna and Milan.
It’s particularly famous for the delicacies that are Parmesan cheese and Parma ham.
The city has Bronze Age and Roman origins, and its long history has left many beautiful buildings and one of the oldest universities in the world.
Parma Airport operates a few local flights, but major airlines fly to both Bologna and Milan from all over Europe, and a quick train journey can take you to Parma.
Five things to see and do
If you’re looking for a bit of history, take a stroll around the old town where you can marvel at Parma Cathedral or the seventeenth century Teatro Farnese.
One of the best ways to sample the variety of food and drink produced by the city is to take a food tour. These usually take all day and will transport you to locations across the city for some ham, cheese and wine.
The tree-lined avenues and fish-filled lake mean Parco Ducale is a great place to explore. In the evening, it’s popular with runners and locals hanging out.
Spend an evening at Enoteca Fontana, one of the best wine-tasting places in Parma. They not only have great quality wine, but they have budget prices: a glass of wine can cost less than two euros.
Visit the Piazza Garibaldi, Parma’s most vibrant public space.
And on the north side of the square are the municipal offices, which house a unique astronomical clock – it’s a great space for a coffee, lunch, or a drink in the evening.
Parma has been home to a few famous sporting faces down the years.
Benetton Treviso scrum-half Tito Tebaldi was born in Parma, so will make the trip back home when his side play Zebre.
Other famous sporting talents include head coach of ACF Fiorentina Stefano Polu, and two-time world champion Thai boxer Giampaolo Faelli.
Zebre’s most successful year was the 2015-16 season, when they escaped the bottom of the table, overtaking Benetton Treviso and securing a place in the European Champions Cup in the process.
They made their debut in the Guinness PRO14 league in 2012-13, replacing Aironi.
Now under the control of the Italian Federation (FIR), the team will look to build on a solid season in Conference A under new head coach Michael Bradley.
The team is improving each year and their most impressive victory last season was their 25-22 win over 2016 champions Connacht in April.
The 5000-seater Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi opened in 2008 and sits on the outskirts of Parma, 3km (two miles) from the centre.
It can be reached in a five-minute taxi ride from Parma train station and the centre of the city, a 40-minute walk, or a short bus journey.