A N. Province Of Italy, in the Emilia, separated N. by the Po from Cremona, E. by the Enza from Reggio, S. by the Apennines from Massa e Carrara and Genoa, and bounded N. W. by Piacenza; area, 1,251 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 264,381. More than half the province is covered by ridges of the Apennines, some of the mountains being over 6,000 ft. high; one fifth of the territory is hilly, and the rest consists of fertile plains. The principal rivers are the Po and its affluents the Taro and Enza. The agricultural products, though considerable, are not quite sufficient for the population. The most abundant productions are wine, oil, fruits, rice, timber, marble, alabaster, copper, and salt. The principal manufacture is of silk. Dairy products, particularly the celebrated Parmesan cheese, are largely exported. The province comprises the districts of Parma, Borgo San-donino, and Borgotaro. - Under the Romans, who subdued this territory in 184 B. C, it formed part of Cisalpine Gaul. After the fall of the western empire it was held successively by the Ostrogoths, the Longobards, and by Charlemagne, who ceded it to the pope.
It became independent during the wars between the holy see and the German emperors, and afterward passed under the dominion of local dynasties, until in 1346 it fell into the hands of the Visconti of Milan. In 1511 the congress of Mantua restored it to Pope Julius II. After being for a while occupied by the French under Francis I., it was in 1545 bestowed by Pope Paul III. upon his natural son Pietro Luigi Farnese, whose successors held the duchies of Parma and Piacenza till 1731, when the male line became extinct. Elizabeth Farnese, the wife of Philip V. of Spain, now obtained the duchies as a fief for her son Don Carlos; but when he became king of the Two Sicilies they were annexed to Austria. The treaty of Aix-la-Ohapelle (1748) gave the duchies, along with Guastalla, to Don Philip, brother of Don Carlos. Philip was succeeded in 1765 by his son Ferdinand, who was permitted to retain the territories even after the French invasion and until 1801, when the treaty of Luneville gave to his son Louis the grand duchy of Tuscany and the title of king of Etruria, instead of his father's duchies.
On Ferdinand's death in 1802, France incorporated them under the name of the department of the Taro, although the formal annexation of Parma and Piacenza was not effected till July, 1805, and in 1806 Guastalla was annexed to the French kingdom of Italy. The three duchies were bestowed in 1814 upon the ex-empress of France Maria Louisa. To meet the objections of Spain a separate treaty (June, 1817) vested the succession to the duchies on Maria Louisa's death in the descendants of the infanta of Spain (the queen of Etruria), who in the interval became ruler of Lucca; but after the extinction of the house of Lucca the duchy of Piacenza was to revert to Sardinia and Parma to Austria, which latter power was in the mean time authorized to retain all the territory on the left bank of the Po and to garrison the fortress of Piacenza. Maria Louisa left Parma in consequence of the revolutionary movements in 1846, and after her death in December, 1847, Duke Charles of Lucca reigned in Parma and Piacenza till the revolution of 1848, when the country was for a short time occupied by Sardinian troops.
The defeat of Charles Albert soon restored the duke, who resigned in favor of his son Charles III. in 1849. The latter was assassinated in March, 1854, and his minor son Robert succeeded him under the regency of his mother, a sister of the count de Chambord, whose administration was not unpopular. The victories of the allied French and Sardinians in 1859 put an end to the rule of the house of Lucca. Parma and Piacenza became part in 1860 of the kingdom of Sardinia, and in 1861 of that of Italy, forming now two distinct provinces. (See Farnese.)
A City, capital of the province, 12 m. S. of the Po and 70 m. S. E. of Milan; pop. in 1872, 45,511. The river Parma passes through the city, and is crossed by three bridges. Parma is divided into two almost equal parts by the Via AEmilia. The most celebrated building is the Farnese palace, containing a large theatre and the academy of sciences, valuable collections, and a library with 140,000 volumes. In a hall of the library is one of Correggio's frescoes. The palace contains also a museum of antiquities and the public printing establishment, where more than 50,000 of Bodoni's models of types are preserved. There are three other notable palaces in the city. The cathedral is an imposing edifice in the Lombard style, with Correggio's "Assumption of the Virgin" and other fine works. The church of Madonna della Steccata is built after the model of St. Peter's, and contains "Moses" and other paintings by Parmigiano, and tombs of the Farnese family. San Giovanni Evangelista has also good works of art. The baptistery, built between 1196 and 1281, is one of the most splendid in Italy; it is built entirely of red and gray Veronese marble, is encircled with four tiers of open galleries outside, and has a painted dome. The university contains an observatory and cabinet of natural history.
It was attended in 1875 by upward of 300 students. A superior school of engraving was established in 1860. In the S. E. part of the city are the citadel and the botanic gardens. Parma is a city of palaces and beautiful gardens, but singularly lifeless except during the annual fair in June for the sale of silk, the principal article of trade. - The construction of the Via AEmilia gave to Parma some importance under the Romans, but it was devastated by Mark Antony in 43 B. C. A settlement of Goths was formed here by Gratian in A. D. 377. During the middle ages it rose to importance among the capitals of Italy, and it was exceedingly brilliant under some of the princes of the house of Farnese. Petrarch resided here in 1341-'2, and Amadio Ronchini published on occasion of the celebration of the poet's anniversary in 1874 La dimora del Pe-trarca in Parma (Modena, 1874).