The birthplace of all your favorite foods
So, going back to Italian food for a second. The city of Parma is renowned for its savory Parma ham and Parmesan cheese; if you like eating either of those things more than a little bit, it's worth the trip alone to experience both in their absolute finest form. But that's just scratching the surface of Parma's inventive food culture. You don't become the first city in Italy to win UNESCO's Creative City of Gastronomy for nothing.
Don't fret: It's easy to work off all the wine and cheese by bike or on foot. This compact riverside city is all but devoid of cars and crowds, with plenty to explore at your leisure, like ornate, well-preserved monasteries and churches, a famous opera house, and glamorous cafes. Art lovers will get some exercise in at the National Gallery, examining Renaissance masterpieces by Correggio, Parmigianino, Leonardo da Vinci, and El Greco. And it's only a short bus ride out to a countryside stacked with Renaissance-era castles and fortresses.