LOVELY PIACENZA VALLEYS NORTHERN ITALY - Quiet valleys and great food

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LOVELY PIACENZA VALLEYS - CODICE: ITABY004

A short drive from Milan, about 40 miles (65 km) to the south-western border of Lombardy.
As we cross the Po river we reach Piacenza, ready to explore three enchanting valleys carved by streams and rivers of the Appennino Emiliano:  Val Tidone, Val Trebbia and Val d’Arda.
Medieval villages, fortresses and Castles share this friendly territory with forest covered mountains, crystal clear waters and, of course, vineyards.
Enjoy the tasty culinary heritage while living some days out of the hustle and bustle of the big city.


Piacenza Valleys
are not a popular destinations yet.

We consider them , together with the Oltrepò Pavese, among our best kept secret next to Milan

 

 

TOUR: multi-day trip, private escorted tour
SUGGESTED DURATION: 3 days

BEST TIME TO GO:

from April to early November. Winter can be rainy and snowy
BEST TIME TO BOOK:

depending on the time of the year, from few days to some weeks in advance for high season weekends (June to September-October, the grape harvest)

DEPARTURE: Milan
ARRIVAL: Milan
RECOMMENDED FOR:

everyone – there’s plenty of activities: nature trails and rural landscapes; crystal clear waters for swimming and kayaking; rich historical and cultural heritages; amazing food and wine

 

 

Our journey starts in Milan. We need about 1 to 1 ½ hour drive to reach our charming accomodation in one of the Piacenza Valleys, depending on road traffic outside the big city and on the chosen location.
We have the best selection of bed and breakfasts, Agriturismo and charming hotels in Piacenza province.
Our suggested travel plan includes three nights to visit the area and have some relax.

 

Piacenza can be our “entry gate”, a nice city, still on the plain, on the right bank of the Po river.

It has been the first roman military settlement in northern Italy, over 2,200 years ago.

Its importance grew once Piacenza became the capital of the Parma and Piacenza Duchy, in 1545.
Parma
took over as Capital of the Duchy a few years later.

Piacenza played its role in the State before joining the newly formed Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Let’s take some hours to visit the walkable city center starting from Piazza cavalli with its Palazzo Comunale and the Governor’s Palace. We follow then Via XX Settembre, the main shopping street, connecting Piazza Cavalli to the Duomo Square.

Most historic and art museums are located at Palazzo Farnese, a former military fortress, restored and transformed into a residential Palace, just five minutes walk from Piazza Cavalli.

 

It’s now time to get out of the city and reach its valleys.
At the Trebbia and Po river confluence, Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, defeated the roman army about 2,200 years ago, opening his way to Rome.
A short drive take us to the Borgonovo Val Tidone, and its castle, the Rocca Sforzesca.

Lanscapes change as our road climbs to Ziano Piacentino, an old village surrounded by vineyards.
We stop for some wine tasting and have lunch at one of our selected Agriturismo.

Narrow yet scenic country roads take us the Tidone Valley and the small town of Pianello.

Let slowly climb again to the Rocca d’Olgisio or with its latin name, Arx Impavida, “the fearless Fortress”.

Built on a lonely cliff, Rocca d’Olgisio is the most ancient fortress in the province of Piacenza, about 1,500 years old. 
Refuge, monastery, noble dwelling and partisans hideout by the end of WWII.
It has been listed among national monuments and is part of the Castles of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza Association. While we consider the Rocca a “must see”, many locals have no idea about it.

 

The Trebbia Valley stretches north-east to south-west from Piacenza to the Ligurian border.

Rivergaro, a quiet town on the foothills has some nice ancient buildings.
Noble families struggled over the centuries to conquer the once fortified village: among them the Visconti, dukes of Milan and later the Anguissola. Before driving south we should stop and visit the Rivalta Castle, a thousand-year old Manor overlooking the river.

 

We continue to Travo on the left bank of the river, to briefly walk in the town center and see some well preserved buildings as the Anguissola Castle.
We can learn more about early human settlements in the Valley stopping at the Archeological Park and Neolitic Village.

 

Driving south we cannot miss the Pietra Parcellara, an imposing mountain of black igneous rock rising from the greenish hills. In a few minutes we reach Bobbio, the most important town of the Valley.
Its neolitic settlement became first a roman town, then in the VII century, Teodolinda, queen of the Longobards, donated part of this territory to the Irish Monk, Colombano who founded the omonymous Abbey.
Bobbio
turned into a primary religious and political hub in Europe during the middle ages.
The city has well kept its medieval look.

We take some time to walk around, visiting the Cathedral, St. Colombano Abbey and the iconic Ponte Gobbo, the “humpback bridge”, built and rebuilt along the past 2,000 years. The whole area is a popular weekend and summer destination with greenish and pristine mountains, a real heaven for trekkers and mushroom hunters.


South of Bobbio the valley narrows as the Trebbia plunges into deep, scenic canyons.

We can see stony beaches and turquoise water pools. It is possible to swim during the summer season, however most beaches have no easy access.
We can drive to Marsaglia and stop in Brugnello, built on the top of a cliff overlooking the Trebbia river.
Depending on the season and water level, it is possible to do some kayaking between Marsaglia and Bobbio.

 

On the following day we take some time to visit the small town of Castell’Arquato, one of the most beautiful medieval towns in northern Italy listed among i Borghi più belli d’Italia (Italy’s best small towns).

It is located on a hilltop overlooking the Arda Valley.

Castell’Arquato has roman origins however most of the restored buildings are 8-10 century old, and are close to the city hall square.
Stops or visits are at the Visconti Castle and its little museum, the Palazzo del Podestà where local rulers use to work and live, and the roman style Basilica.

 

We can make a stop at Vigoleno Castle before driving back west to Vigolo Marchese and Grazzano Visconti, a medieval style village conceived and built by the end of the XIX century.

It is an art and cultural center with no paved roads. Houses, shops, restaurants have been built using red bricks, around the older Grazzano Castle (built 1395). It’s a nice place to walk and shop around.

 

Local food and wines are simply delicious. We’ll take you to some of the best genuine places, mostly family-run Agriturismo and Osterie and let you taste their best regional dishes.

We’re sure you will fall in love with Piacenza food. No luxury restaurants on this itinerary.

 

We invite you to explore with us the Piacenza Valleys, part of our wonderful hidden treasures in Emilia Romagna, so close to Milan and far from the big crowds, home of genuine and unique experiences in Italy.

 


This itinerary can be fully customized to fit your needs
.

More overnights and locations can be added to this tour.

Just write us to plan and quote your tour!

 

If you have a bigger group we can set up your exclusive tour of the Piacenza Valleys with our own coaches and guides.

Just write us to plan and quote your tour!

 

Due to Covid-19 world pandemic all our private escorted tours in Italy have been suspended.

We hope to be back and host you soon in our beautiful country.

 



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