I arrived in Italy straight from a hectic holiday in New York City and couldn’t have dreamed of a better place to start my trip than in Parma. A city rich in history, culinary wonders and culture, Parma is also a quaint and gorgeous place to unwind, cure a jetlag while roaming the romantic streets aimlessly, stopping in cafes at random for apero and indulge in a little dolce far niente for a day or two. It’s also home to the gorgeous and relaxing B&B Al Battistero d’Oro where I had the pleasure to stay in the first three days of my Italian holiday.
The journey to Parma was perfectly simple. After a short red-eye flight from New York to Milan where I scored the five center-aisle seats all to myself (yeay!), getting to Milan Centrale with a shuttle bus (0.5 hour) and catching a train to Parma (1.5 hours) was equally just as easy (make it even easier by booking your own private airport transfer). Al Battistero d’Oro is located just a ten-minute walk away from the train station (which is what I opted for) or a five-minute cab ride. The B&B is located in a quiet 18th-century townhouse. There is no obvious sign for it on the building apart from a metal board next to the doorbell, which you have to be up close to see, so make sure you have the full address written down!
It really can’t get any better than this! Al Battistero d’Oro is located right in the center of things, a two-minute walk from Parma’s historical and artistic heart, where the Battistero and Cathedral (home of the mesmerizing Assumption of the Virgin by the Late Renaissance artist Antonio da Correggio) are located, and a 10-minute walk from Palazzo della Pilotta. Being right in the center of such a small town, everything is within walking distance, but being so close to Piazza del Duomo and having to walk through it every time I went out was such a special treat.
The B&B is accessible through an inner courtyard, which makes it feel private and exclusive. There are only two rooms and one apartment, all located in separate suites. This definitely enhanced the feeling of being alone in a palace – which, in fact I was, since there were no other guests around at the time! The service was personal and carried out with care and honest generosity by the lovely Patrizia and her family. The house is decorated with beautiful art pieces, old style furniture and crisp white linens and pillows, giving Al Battistero d’Oro a perfectly curated gallery vibe. My room, the adjacent bathroom and the lounge are all elegant, modern and warm – it was just so lovely to lay my head and cure my jetlag in this beautiful, serene environment. As an added bonus, the air always seems to either smell of fresh linens or freshly baked bread. Lush.
The continental breakfast can be served in room, but I instead opted to eat mine in the huge lounge. I was asked at what time I wanted breakfast and it was already on the table when I got up the next day, fresh, warm and inviting. My vegan diet was dealt with absolutely remarkably – I was served with a selection of fruit, nuts, bread, jam, juice and coffee with soy milk, which was plenty and always served in the most unique and dainty vintage dishes.
THE LITTLE EXTRAS
The B&B has fast free Wi-Fi and flat screen TVs in each room as well as free water, tea and coffee in the lounge at all time. The apartment has a private entrance and comes with its own kitchenette and dining area. The provided shower gel (which is not in small disposable packages, that’s awesome) smells like heaven on earth. The pillows are fluffy and the beds incredibly comfortable.
Patrizia and her family were fantastic hosts and this really was an added bonus to a wonderful stay in a place that already has so much going for it. Patrizia was great at recommending activities tailor-made for my interests (read what I got up to here) and made my stay very special indeed. Parma is an overlooked gem and Al Battistero d’Oro is most definitely where I will base myself for all future visits, which there will be, for sure.
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Many thanks to Al Battistero d’Oro for their hospitality. As always, all opinions are my own regardless of who is footing the bill.