Parma was a bit of a disappointment.
I couldn’t find a parking in the center of town. We wanted to visit the Parma Cathedral (Duomo) and found a parking space for only one hour. Inside the cathdral a service was being held and it went on and on. We left because of the time constraint. Parma did not seem to have a historic center, so we left town to exploit other possibilities.
Rocca Sanvitale, Fontanellato.
This seemed like a nice place.
We had a coffee here first, then walked around the castle to have a quick look at the market stalls. By the time we got to the castle, they were closed! We had forgotten about the 11:00 - 15:00 break 'everybody' takes.
The gate wasn't entirely closed; we were free to explore the gate (photo above) and the inner yard.
A little church nearby, on the same square, made the visit to Fontanellato worthwhile; exquisitely decorated.
We were even honoured with a tour in a special, locked room; this room was richly decorated withheavy decorated wooden panelling; the custodian opened cabinets to show various religious idols.
Since I am not religious I lack the specific knowledge for the function of this room,
but it was clearly a place of pride and special reverie.
Next stop was even more disappointing! Roccabianca. This place was only open during the weekends. That information was learned from the Tabacchi corner store, as there was no information in English at the gate of the castle. The Italians have little consideration for tourists from abroad: we should all learn Italian when we visit Italy!
A peculiar church, somewhere en route.
Another peculiarity we experienced while driving the back roads, passing farm fields: we noticed a sound on the windshield like it was raining.. We found that sound was caused by driving through huge clouds of mosquitoes…
Our last attempt to visit a castle from the ‘Castelli Ducati’ brochure: Rocca Meli Lupa di Soragna.
We found it closed too upon our arrival, but was scheduled to reopen at 15:00 - which was only some 20 minutes away. So we sat down for cold drinks at a nearby café.
When we reported at the gate, we were told they did only guided tours and the group had just left. We could join but the group was Italian..
I hate tours like that and we wouldn’t be able to understand the guide, so in disgust we left.
As I said, it was a good thing we found such comfort at our hotel: Relais Fontevivo.