Based in Milan but originally hailing from Parma, Giulia Torelli (also known to the Internet as ‘Rock and Fiocc’) is one of the fashion influencers known for her Marie-Kondo-like approach to wardrobe organization and sharp commentary of everything surrounding her.
Discover all about what Torelli loves about Parma, and what makes this town, otherwise known for the production of cheese, wines, and prosciutto, so special.
From a Parmense point of view, what makes Parma special, (other than the obvious)? What do you think makes Parmensi stand out?
I think it's a nice city because it is very small and you can go anywhere by bike or on foot. There are two big parks and a river that runs through it. It's romantic! Parmensi are elegant, always put together.
What are the best places to stay in town?
The city center is fascinating, any hotel or Airbnb around Teatro Regio or Via Farini will be perfect. Namely, Al Battistero d’oro, a wonderful B&B located in an 18th-century building, is a marvellous place to stay. However, if you want to stay outside Parma, Antico Borgo di Tabiano Castello is a beautiful alternative for longer stays in the area.
Given your passion for fashion, can you suggest your favourite shops in town? Vintage and non?
Il Guazzabuglio: if you are searching for a vintage Chanel or Hermes bag, this is your shop.
Off: a shop with a very careful selection that goes from Ann Demeulemeester and Comme des Garçons to Acne and other street style brands.
Annalisa: a little shoe outlet in the middle of the city
333: designer clothing and downstairs furnishing and cute things for your home.
And what about markets?
There is a vintage market in piazza Ghiaia, every Tuesday, all day and then, of course, there’s the Sunday morning market which is the biggest one in Parma. It is located right in the city center among Piazzale Matteotti, Via Don Minzoni, and Via Primo Maggio. Here, you can find every kind of item, since it is the place where locals normally go for their weekly shopping.
Given its reputation for ham and cheese, it is hardly surprising that Parma ham (prosciutto di Parma) and Parmigiano Reggiano feature strongly on menus, but you will also find other local specialties such as guancia di manzo, the cheek of beef. Where would you suggest going for lunch and dinner? Street food, restaurants, and more?
The number one street food place in Parma is Pepen! Popular among locals is its Spaccaballe panino and carciofa - but honestly, the options are endless.
If you want to sit down at a restaurant and have some local food, there is the super traditional Cocchi, or Osteria dello zingaro. For a modern touch on typical menus, Borgo 20 and La gatta matta.
What about arts and culture? You love readings and we heard about some great theatres in town…
If you love theatre, you must go see a concert, or opera or ballet at Teatro Regio, one of the most beautiful theatres in Italy. There is also a philharmonic worth a visit, La Toscanini. Teatro regio is considered to be one of the most important theatres in Italy and every year presents a Festival celebrating Giuseppe Verdi’s music, aptly called Festival Verdi.
What to visit when coming to town? Any Palazzos and Churches that are worth a visit?
Yes for sure La Pilotta complex and Galleria Nazionale, a big museum with a beautiful Library inside, Biblioteca Palatina. Also Duomo and Battistero are a must-see. The Duomo hails back to 1100, while the Battistero is known for its curious esoteric history. The lower level of the Baptistery is interrupted by the sculpted panels of the zooforo by Antelami, a sort of medieval bestiary in which real and fantastic animals, mythological creatures and monsters appear. But the zooforo is not the only curious and intriguing element that appears on the Baptistery, another element, more hidden and not very decipherable: on the south-east part of the building, in an area where the sun hardly ever shines, you can notice the sign of a tread, a footprint. The Devil, who has always boasted unsurpassable abilities, had received news of the presence in Parma of a building of extraordinary beauty, the Antelamic Baptistery. Once he arrived in Parma, the devil realized that the beauty of the Baptistery exceeded even his capacities and, enraged, he cursed it trying to destroy it with a kick, but he only managed to scratch it, leaving his footprint still visible today.
Or what if you want to stay somewhere nearby Parma but not necessarily in town?
I don't know about stays, but the biggest labyrinth in the world is situated very close to Parma, it's called Labirinto Della Masone and there is a very beautiful museum inside it. Constructed by the editor, graphic designer, and multi-hyphenate creative Franco Maria Ricci in collaboration with Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, it is composed entirely of bamboo plants (in total there are about 200 thousand), between 30 centimeters and 15 meters high, belonging to twenty different species. Also, the Magnani Rocca museum is pretty good, with its garden full of peacocks
Parma is also known for its violet production, especially in relation to Maria Luigia’s perfumes. Where to go to buy the best perfumes in town and discover this particular story?
For sure at BIBA, the best perfume shop in town! Duchess Maria Luigia had a strong passion for botany but above all a boundless love for Parma violets which became her "trademark". The history of the perfume is really singular, Maria Luigia already knew this flower before arriving in Parma and acquiring the duchy. Once she became Duchess of Parma she also wanted the exclusivity on the perfume, ordering her monks to extract the perfume from flowers and to create it. The recipe of the perfume remained secret until 1870, a year in which Ludovico Borsari was able to get his hands on the recipe and to reproduce it for a wider audience and not only for rich people.