About Palazzo della Pilotta

Originally designed as an enclosure for the Farnese court services, to integrate the ducal residence system, the monumental Palazzo della Pilotta started to be built probably around 1583, during the final years of Ottavio Farnese’s dukedom(1547-1586). The palazzo was designed by architect Francesco Paciotto of Urbino. The long corridors, orthogonally arranged to mark out a true “citadel”, with its internal courtyards and rustic brick walls, were intended to house storerooms, stables and barracks, as well as an impressive armoury, later converted into the Court theatre.

The complex’ name comes from the aristocratic game “pelota”, which was played in the courtyards on special occasions. Already home to a selected collection of aristocratic paintings and books, the Pilotta, during the dukedom of Don Filippo di Borbone (1748-1765), hosted the Academy of FineArts and togetherwith its art collection.

From the Academy stem the National Gallery, the Palatine Library and the Archaeological museum, institutions which are still located there today, together with Parma and Piacenza’s Regional Superintendencies for the Historic, Artistic, Ethno-anthropological and Architectural National Heritage, and with the Bodoni Museum.

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Galleria Nazionale

Already home to an important ducal picture gallery and a collection of books at the time of the Farnese, during the duchy of Philip of Bourbon (1748-1765), la Pilotta housed the Academy of Fine Arts, which with its own art gallery and finds from excavations at Veleia made up the original core of the historic Galleria along with the students’ academic essays.

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Teatro Farnese

On the first floor of the Pilotta, a massive wooden door painted with faux marble marks the entrance to the Teatro Farnese, which occupies a large salone originally intended as an armoury. It was later transformed into a theatre between 1617 and 1618 by architect Giovan Battista Aleotti, known as l’ Argenta from the name of his hometown in the province of Ferrara.

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Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Founded in 1760 by Philip, Duke of Parma to coincide with the start of excavation of the ancient Roman town of Veleia, it was the first and, for a long time, only example in northern Italy of an institution involved in archaeological work. The Ducale Museo d’antichità, today the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Parma, was later extended to contain materials and artefacts found in the Parma area. In the 19th century it set up one of the first Italian collections of prehistoric finds.

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Palatine Library

The Palatine Library, situated right from the beginning in Palazzo della Pilotta owes its foundation to the enlightened cultural policies of dukes Philip and Ferdinand of Bourbon and to the work of librarian Paolo Maria Paciaudi, who was the first in Italy to use mobile cards for cataloguing authors.

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Bodoni Museum

The Bodoni Museum, an autonomous body, set up in 1962 and opened in 1963, is based in the Palatine Library. The first of its kind in Italy and among the most important in Europe, the Museum owns a collection of the letters, editions, punches, matrices and typographical-casting furnishings of  Giambattista Bodoni’s workshop. The museum also studies and holds conferences on the typography and designs of the legendary printer, and on the history of book-making.

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(It) Amici della Pilotta

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A cultural center for Parma