At the end of 15th century, the Sanseverino family transformed a previous four-sided stronghold on the road leading to Mantua into an aristocratic residence. Here, before she was behaded by the Farnese in 1612, Countess Barbara had created a lively court. Incorporated within the Farnese duchy, the small town experienced its most splendid period and the palace became the summer residence of the dukes of Parma, undergoing changes under Ranuccio II Farnese in 17th century. Between 1712 and 1727, Duke Francesco Farnese commissioned Ferdinando Bibiena to redesign the front parts of the building with four corner towers.
When the court passed under Bourbon rule in the second half of the 18th century, it was divested of its art works by Charles III. Thanks to Philip Bourbon, interior furnishings were added in Louis XV style in the late 18th century and the ducal chapel of San Liborio was built on a design by Ennemond Petitot. After the Unification of Italy, the art collection and palace furnishings were dispersed and many pieces ended up in the royal residences in Turin, Florence and Rome, where they still can be seen in the Quirinale palace and in several museums.
The most interesting rooms are located on the Piano Nobile, added during Bourbon period. Although they were designed for formal ceremonies and in order to entertain visitors, they are small and intimate, following the French style of the period, which is also reflected in the elegant decorations. The rooms are embellished by large marble fireplaces, superb multicolored marquetery floors, tall doors with engraved gilt bronze locks, windows set deep in vaulted recesses, elaborate paneling on the walls and stucco decorations with plant and rocaille motifs on the ceilings and on the cornices over the doors. Works carried out in the park have revived the English garden appearence wanted by Marie Louise in the first twenty years of the 19th century.
The tour includes the Piano Nobile, New Apartment of Duke Ferdinando of Bourbon and Observatory, the Ducal Chapel of San Liborio. The surrounding park, open to visitors, is not included in the guided tour.
The Reggia is accessible for visitors with reduced mobility except the Apartment of Duke Ferdinando of Bourbon.
Small animals can be carried only held in arms or in proper carriers.