As soon as I cross the imaginary border between Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna I feel at home.
Half of my family comes from Parma and you can read a couple of sweet stories about my old relatives, who once lived in this area in my book, Eating Heart.
The atmosphere here is for me related to good food and warm care and the sound of that special scent melts my Milanese attitude like butter in the sun.
The theater was designed in 1618 by Giovanni Battista Aleotti and it was meant to be the court theater for Ranuccio I, at the time Duke of Parma and Piacenza. It was built in a huge space inside the Palazzo della Pilotta that was previously used as an armory were knightly tournaments took place. The construction of the theater was inspired by the Palladio’s theater in Vicenza;housed in a large room, the U shaped auditorium consists of fourteen steps on which they could be accommodated around 3,000 spectators.
Parma is a city with a number of unmissable highlights that we hope to share with you in spread out little morsels but today we want to show you one of out favorite ones, the spectacular Teatro Farnese.
The structure was made of wood and entirely covered with stucco painted to simulate marble to emphasize the ephemeral purpose of this architecture.
Because of the prohibitive cost of the big stage machinery it was used very little, no more than 12 times.
Abandoned after the last performance in 1732 it was completely destroyed during the bombing of the Second World War and rebuilt between 1956 and 1960, following the original drawings and with building material recovered.
Only recently, after being idle for almost three centuries, the theater has returned to host theatrical events in 2011 with the Maestro Claudio Abbado and his Mozart Orchestra.
The theater is located inside the Palazzo della Pilotta, an imposing building commissioned by The Farnese, a very influential family of the Italian Renaissance that ruled the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza to the beginning of the 1700. It served as a logistical support to the Ducal Palace, the true seat of the court and built in the adjacent park. The name Pilotta derives from the game Pelota basca played by the Spanish soldiers in the building courtyard when the Borbonic took over.
On a sunny day we suggest you to take a walk in the nearby park and imagine to go back in time and belong to the Duke court: if such was the case you would have the chance to participate to one of the lavish weddings that took place in the Duke Palace and to the extraordinary theatrical performances at the “Peschiera” (fish pond) in the park. This is just the beginning of a more extensive visit to Parma to follow in future ingredients on our site.