Having read about Cena dei Mille 2022 Parma – Dinner of the Thousand nothing could have prepared either Beatrice (aka Ask the Monsters) or I for the true sense of awesomeness that overwhelmed us as we arrived in Piazza Garibaldi on Tuesday whilst preparations were taking place.
The Main Street of Parma, usually busy with traffic contained one big long table which would later seat 1’000 guests. It literally took 10 – 15 minutes to walk from the start of the table right to the very end. Fortunately there were about 4 small breaks in the table allowing pedestrians to squeeze through.
The Cena dei Mille 2022 Parma “Dinner of the Thousand” is a project designed to help cultivate the Parma Food Valley brand and “Made-in-Parma” product chains. Promoted by the Parma UNESCO City of Gastronomy Foundation, in collaboration with the Municipality of Parma.
Cristiano Casa founded the project in 2014 when the first Cena dei Mille took place to celebrate 50 years of Buon Ricordo Restaurant Association. In 2020 it was scheduled to seat 2020 people, to celebrate Parma Italian Capital of Culture, however Covid had other plans.
Keep reading for a pictorial account of : “Reporting Live from Cena dei Mille 2022 Parma – Dinner of the Thousand”
Cena dei Mille 2022 Parma – Dinner of the Thousand
Starting with the table decoration:
In hindsight I wished I had measured the table so I could talk about how long the table really was.
In any case there were five distinct sections. Each section decorated simply with a different fruit or vegetable,(tomato, lemon, capsicum, grapes and aubergine). Despite simplicity the wow effect was huge. We could all learn from the Italians when it comes to making even the simplest of decorations look fabulous…
In most European cities the area would have been sectioned off not allowing anyone nearby. Not here though. In true Italian style locals and tourists alike where seen walking alongside the tables taking pictures or simply soaking in the awesomeness of it all.
Of course there were police monitoring a little for trouble…like when I stood on a side table (being careful to take the table cloth off of course) to take photos. It took 2 seconds for the “polizia locale” to appear asking me what on earth I was thinking. Beatrice saved the day with her charm…”guilty as charged” she said in her cutest Italian voice. Then continued some sort of verbal diarrhea of which I understood nothing. Not to worry it’s the end result that counts. We ended up both parties smiling, kissing and shaking hands with the “polizia locale” as we left. “Solo in Italia” could this happen – smile!
Apero & behind the scenes:
The first thing we were given was a shoulder strap bag holding a glass. Ingenious – this way we could eat the delicious nibbles and hold a drink at the same time.
Beatrice got stuck at the balsamic tasting table and I literally had to pull her away. Reminding her that dinner was still to come – she can’t help it, she’s Italian – smile!
Pre dinner pictures:
I will confess to feeling somewhat like a celebrity with many important people wanting to have photos taken with us before dinner started. Feeling particularly humble as we were photographed by the great World Famous chefs of the evening:
Two of the eleven three Michelin star chefs, Chicco Cerea of the restaurant Da Vittorio and Enrico Crippa of Piazza Duomo Alba. Plus Massimo Spigaroli. also a Michelin starred chef, and President of the Fondation Parma UNESCO City of Gastronomy – were introduced to us.
At the start of the evening we were all given a wristband with our seat number on it – fortunately we were also shown to our seat otherwise I think I would have spent at least half an hour trying to figure out where my seat was…
-Tuna tartare with bagna cauda sauce and Pistachio crumble
-Nettle leaves cylinder with candied black truffle and smoked Parmisan
-Tender veal on sweet mashed potatoes and vegetable stuffed pumpkin flower
-Alba nuts cake with Zabaione cream and Moscato flavor
After full sunshine and 32° during the day the skies decided to open up with rain just as dessert was scheduled. However the evening continued seamlessly. One could even say it was one of the highlights of the evening as we all huddled undercover devouring cake and Franciacorta.
This was when we got to meet even more interesting people from Parma. My lack of Italian let me down a little so this weekend I bought a book to learn Italian. Next visit there will be no excuse!
The morning after:
After breakfast Beatrice decided it was time to introduce me to some Italian culture so off we walked to the Parma Cathedral dating back to 1074. Its dome has the famous painting “Cupola of Correggio”, considered scandalous at the time…
Our culture trip was followed by a stroll through Parma with Beatrice being ever so patient whilst I fall in love with a little green skirt.
Spending the afternoon at Antica Corte Pallavicina
Feeling like real princesses at noon we were picked up by a driver and taken to visit the castle hotel and restaurant Antica Corte Pallavicina. Massimo Spigaroli is both Chef Patron and one of the two owners of the castle. The place is so special that even Alain Ducasse was recently a guest here…shame we missed him – smile.
As soon as we arrived we were given a tour. The cellar was nothing short of spectacular with 8’000 pieces of culatello meat hanging from the ceiling.
Then it was time to taste…A delicious lunch was served to us in the “Hosteria del Maiale”.
Starting with a platter of culatello of course. Once again Beatrice was in her element. It’s just as well she’s training for the Chicago marathon – smile!
Time to go back to Zurich after a wonderful 2 days in Parma but first…
Where we stayed:
PIO rooms – the cutest bed and breakfast a mere 2 minutes walk from Piazza Garibaldi. There was something about my room that I seriously fell in love with. Was it the decor or various artefacts, the huge windows, beautiful wooden floor, or the high beamed ceiling? Perhaps it was all of those. In any case I would certainly come back next time I visit Parma.
Our journey by SBB train:
I’m a great fan of train travel in general but the SBB line down to Italy is truly one of my favourite. The ride was so smooth Beatrice could happily put on her makeup. As always we had the most fun staff on board which joined in as Beatrice and I laughed and had fun the whole way down.
Our trip was 5 hours. You can do Zurich – Parma in 4 if you change trains in Milan. We felt like our trip only lasted a few minutes… how time flies when you are having fun.
Special thanks to:
Visit Emilia for the wonderful invitation.
Carla Soffritti for organising the Antica Corte Pallavicina. trip for us
PIO rooms for putting us up for the night
SBB for the lovely 1st class train tickets
Beatrice for making me laugh until I cry and making me realise I need to learn Italian.
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