Piacenza: a full immerssion week end in art
Nights suggested: 2
It is the door of Emilia but is still a bit 'Lombardy. The Po river passes by it, but doesn’t go through it. In Piacenza, everything is within reacheble: its heart has to be discovered slowly. In downtown, palaces, museums and shopping areas. Beyond the city, the many castles, the wines of the Colli Piacentini and the most beautiful valley in the world.
Piazza Cavalli and Gothic Palace
Piazza Cavalli, otherwise known as Piazza Grande, or Piasa Cavai in the Piacenza dialect, is the parlor of the city. Its attractions? The Gothic Palace, the Governor's Palace, the Church of San Francesco and the equestrian statues of the Farnese, important familiy of Parma and Piacenza in the sixteenth century. Every Wednesday and Saturday take place the colorful market. For a good quality shopping, follow Via XX Settembre, the straight street wich from the square will take you to the Duomo.
Cathedral and Episcopal Palace
Romanesque Façade, Gothic arches and a tower bell tower a gilded copper, weather vane angel. The foundation of the Cathedral dates back almost a thousand years ago. You can find it at the end of Via XX Settembre, between a green square, a column with a bronzed Madonna and the beautiful facades of old buildings. The masterpiece is inside of the Dome: you can just look up at the dome to fsee the seventeenth-century frescoes by Guercino and Morazzone. Next to the church, the neoclassical facade of the Bishop's Palace and the arcades of the square with boutiques selling local products.
Among the eighteenth century buildings in the elegant Via Verdi, shows up the neoclassical facade of the Municipal Theatre: watch it and tell us if it is not similar to the one of La Scala in Milan. National temple of opera, for Stendhal it was the most beautiful theatre in Italy." Parterre, two tiers of dais and and two galleries, the gods with a romantic interior and a foyer decorated with glitz.
A curiosity: the Municipal Theatre was the first in Italy to have lamps electricity in 1895.
Palazzo Farnese and Museums
One step away from the city walls and the Po, in the Citadel Square, stands a building with a massive structure. Palazzo Farnese is the home of the Civic Museum and the State Archives. An unusual collection is on the ground floor, the Carriage Museum: dozens of examples, from the eighteenth century to the advent of the first engines.
In the Archaeological Museum you will find the Etruscan Liver, a bronze model of a sheep's liver with inscriptions of the second-century BC - It is imentioned in all the history books.
On the mezzanine level, the Risorgimento Museum, four large rooms of memorabilia, pictures, weapons and original documents. The masterpiece of the civic complex? The Tondo by Sandro Botticelli, guarded in the Pinacoteca, on the first floor of the palace. Just it is worth the ticket price.
Church of San Sisto and the Basilica of St. Anthony
The first is a Renaissance church with a beautiful wooden choir from the sixteenth century: tit’s within walking distance from the Civic Museum of Palazzo Farnese, in Via San Sisto 9. Founded in 874 by Queen Angilberga, the church has been for centuries the main Benedictine monastery in Piacenza. Inside, a copy of the Sistine Madonna, a masterpiece by Raffaello Sanzio.
The Church of St. Anthony is in the opposite side of the city, fifty meters far from the Municipal Theatre. Dedicated to the patron of Piacenza, with its Romanesque style, it will enchant you with its octagonal tower and with the fourteenth century Gothic hall, known as the Gate of Heaven. Beautiful are also the paintings and frescoes of the interior.
Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art and the Art Gallery Alberoni
Piacenza home of modern art is the Ricci Oddi Gallery, at number 13 of Via San Siro, between Via Verdi and Stradone Farnese. Its collection has more than four hundred works and various monographic rooms. Among the many famous names, Telemaco Signorini, Pellizza Volpedo, Francesco Hayez, Giorgio De Chirico and Carlo Carra.
The Art Gallery of the College Alberoni is beyond the boundaries of the historic center, near the University. Definitely worth a visit, admire the Ecce Homo by Antonello da Messina, a real pearl of the gallery. The College also houses the Astronomical Observatory, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and a beautiful library.
Castles and Colli Piacentini
Keep at least an afternoon to go hunting castles among the Colli Piacentini. We recommend: Gropparello Castle, fabulous, set in the middle of the vineyards and woods of Val Vezzeno; Rocca d_Olgisio, and its beautiful views; the Visconti Fortress and the village of Castell; the fortified jewel of Vigoleno.
Between a castle and the other, treat yourself to a break in the pub. The specialties of the Colli Piacentini are red wines, Gutturnio, Barbera and Bonarda, paired with meats - pork, bacon, salami and mariola. Among the first courses, do not miss the ravioli with greens!Val Trebbia
"Today I crossed the most beautiful valley in the world". Words of Ernest Hemingway. Climb over the Trebbia along the highway 45. Soon you’ll pass the vineyards and climb between tortuous maze cut into the bare rock. Below you, the ravines carved by the waters of the river excellent for fishing and canoeing. Around, infinitegreen, and castles showing up here and there - the one of Rivalta, on all.
The road continues between forests of beech, oak, chestnut and pine trees up to Bobbio, a small town in the mountains in the Trebbia River valley. What to see? The Abbey of San Colombano, the Malaspina Castle Dal Verme and the Ponte Gobbo, symbol of the country.