Parma and Piacenza Castles


The provinces of Parma and Piacenza in the Emilia Romagna region have some of the best-preserved castles in Italy.

Rivals throughout history, pitted against each other like pawns in war and peace, swapped and traded among dukes, emperors, and popes. Naturally resistant to agglomeration, they  preserved and cultivated styles, habits, food specialties, and personalities that are independent of one another.

Here you’ll find more about the castles of Parma and Piacenza.

Reggia di Colorno

the Ducal Palace of Colorno

Locality: Municipality of Colorno, 15 km from Parma


The beautiful Italian Baroque Palace and Gardens of Colorno have passed through many hands.  Originally a medieval castle,  first of the Correggio and later the Terzi families, came to the hands of the Sanseverino Counts in the late 1400’s with the addition of an extensive garden.

Intrigue came to Colorno when Pope Paul III, a member of the Farnese family made Parma the capital of a duchy which included Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla. The surrounding feudal barons were none too happy, and fostered a revolt, but the plot was thwarted and six of the surrounding Italian nobles were beheaded in the main square of Parma in 1612 by the first Duke Ranuccio Farnese of Parma. Among them was the Countess Barbara Sanseverino who had expanded the palace and the grounds. With the end of the countess, the Palace of Colorno fell to the Farnese’s control. Duke Ranuccio II and his wife Margherita, named for the patron saint of Parma, instituted a complete reconstruction into a grand Baroque palace under architect Ferdinando Bibbiena. The Bourbons succeeded the Farnese in the 1700’s and the palace again received a renovation inspired by the Versailles Palace in France.

After the French Revolution and Napoleon’s march across Europe. The Duchy of Parma was annexed into the French Empire of Bonaparte (see Madame de Stael Chateau Coppet) in the Treaty of Vienna. The Palace of Colorno was given to Napoleon’s second wife Empress Marie Louise, who thought of it as her favorite home away from home and lived there until her death as the Grand Duchess of Austria after Napoleon met his Waterloo. Marie Louise reshaped the garden in the English style park it is today.

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