Not a simple itinerary but a wine tour of one of the most important wine production areas in the Piacenza province, to experience and taste the excellent products of the Val d’Arda territory.
The Val d’Arda is located in the eastern part of the Piacenza area, from the Parma border to the Po valley. The territory includes eight minor valleys of naturalistic and historical interest, from the upper Val d’Arda to the Po.
The first day is dedicated to the discovery of Castell'Arquato, an enchanting medieval village, now recognized as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.
Rural roads wind through the hills and continue towards the Apennine mountains, and the profile of towers, bell towers and battlements emerges from the green: Castell'Arquato surprises visitors with its medieval appeal.
After a visit to its imposing Rocca Viscontea, a stop for a lunch or a tasting based on the three local PDO is a must: coppa, salami, pancetta, accompanied by one of the famous local wines, such as Monterosso Val d'Arda, a perfect pairing with typical cold cuts.
In the afternoon, an oenological hike allows you to discover the production of these typical wines more in-depth: a walk through the vineyards that surround the village, to a winery, ending with a tour of the wine cellar and a tasting of its wines.
The second day we head towards the Castle of San Pietro in Cerro, crossing the lower Po valley to the Great River.
The structure contains about thirty richly furnished rooms, two halls of honor, kitchens, and prisons. In the attic, there is the MIM - Museum in Motion, a collection of 1500 works of contemporary art exhibited in rotation. In the basement, it is possible to admire the exhibition China Millenary - The Warriors of Xi'an with some statues of the warriors of the Great Wall of China.
After the visit to the Castle, we continue with a stop at the Parco di Isola Giarola, a natural area shaped by the course of the Po river and partly modified by men with a lake located on the right bank of the river, in the floodplain area bordered by the streams Arda and Ongina, and by Cavo Fontana.
Starting from Isola Giarola it is possible to take various itineraries by bicycle (there is also a bike rental on site), including a visit to the Park and a tour of the lake; the itinerary among the cherry trees in bloom in Villanova and in the nearby hamlet of Soarza (recommended especially in spring); the itinerary through the Terre Verdiane and towards the food and wine routes of culatello (Zibello and Polesine). On request, it is also possible to transport your bicycle directly on the boat.
As a gastronomic stop, we recommend a lunch or a dinner based on river fish at Isola Serafini, near Monticelli d'Ongina. The marinated eel paired with Ortrugo Spumante Val d’Arda is an absolute must.
On the third day, we conclude the itinerary in Vigolo Marchese, on the bank of the Chiavenna stream, 6 km from Castell’Arquato.
The village preserves a Romanesque basilica with the Monastery of San Giovanni Battista from 1008 and the ruins of La Pusterla, a Roman villa today used as a wine shop.
Not far away, the Castle of Vigoleno deserves a visit, with its Keep and the Romanesque church of San Giorgio.
Vigoleno is a medieval village that stands on a rocky spur overlooking the Stirone Valley in the municipality of Vernasca. It is a small town of probable early medieval origin, where the families of Scotti and Pallavicino alternated in a later period.
The village is also famous for the production of Vin Santo, a particular wine aged for 6/7 years. So, to end our wine tour on a sweet note, we recommend visiting a winery to find out how Vin Santo is produced and to savor it in all its peculiarities.