An important agricultural centre of the plains around Parma, Busseto is located in the north-western tip of the province of Parma about 8 km South of the river Po.
The flat land north of the via Emilia offers different points of interest and different reasons for a visit. The importance of this territory, however, lies in the figure of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), who was born in a nearby village called Roncole and who lived in Busseto for a great part of his life. The Maestro still fascinates music lovers and people who are interested in the life of this composer, profoundly linked to our Risorgimento age.
Thanks to the environmental characteristics of the Padana flat land along the Po River, an important role in this territory’s life is played by the prolific production of delicious cold cuts, among which we find salami, coppe, fiocchetti and the king: culatello.
The area around Busseto can be visited in every period of the year. Here Verdi is still alive and testimonies of his life are visited frequently on a Verdi tour that starts at the house of the Maestro in Roncole, arriving then at the Sant’Agata mansion in Villanova sull’Arda.
Busseto is the right place to discover the most significant sights linked to the life of this composer, starting from Piazza Verdi, where a bronze monument dedicated to the Maestro dominates the square. Here, besides the 13th century Rocca that housed the Pallavicino family, now the Municipality building, there are also the Verdi theatre, dating back to between 1856 and 1868, and Casa Barezzi, where the composer lived with his wife Margherita Barezzi. The house holds many relics, evidence of the education and future career of Verdi, autographed letters, iconographic documents, and original portraits of the Maestro and of his performers during the last century.
Just outside the city wall, another important stop along this itinerary is at Villa Pallavicino. This beautiful Renaissance building is now home to the National Museum Giuseppe Verdi and celebrates this genius composer. Its large rooms house twenty seven works with reproductions of the original furnishings of Casa Ricordi and many paintings from that era, fabrics from the 1800s, and eternal music in a setting with theatrical lighting which accompanies visitors along their journey in this intensely romantic atmosphere.
If the spirit of this Maestro still haunts places in Busseto, it most surely visits noteworthy places such as the Collegiata of San Bartolomeo of the 15th century, built between 1437 and 1450 upon the request by Orlando Pallavicino il Magnifico, the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli with the famous sculpture of the Compianto, and of course Villa Pallavicino, which was the summer residence of the Lords of Busseto.
Furthermore, in a tribute to the heritage of the Italian melodrama, inside the ancient stables of Villa Pallavicino, the new "Renata Tebaldi" Museum has been opened, with a fascinating exhibition of objects, clothes, and jewelry that belonged to this woman that Arturo Toscanini called "the voice of an angel," along with documents, images, and other items of famous artists and colleagues of Tebaldi.
Close to Piazza Verdi there is a place called Salsamenteria Storica Baratta that is really worth a visit. Opened in 1873, it is an old winery where it is possible to taste typical products, cold meats and cheese of every kind, accompanied by a good local wine. As a soundtrack, there is the music of Verdi. Among its most famous customers in history there is he himself, Giuseppe Verdi.
Busseto is a stop on the itinerary Street of culatello that winds between the via Emilia and the river Po. Departing from the city of Parma, passing through Fontanellato, San Secondo, Soragna, Busseto, Polesine Parmense, Zibello, Roccabianca, Sissa and Colorno, the street takes visitors to taste the exquisite Culatello of Zibello, together with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the Spalla of San Secondo.
Another way to visit Busseto and the land of Verdi, especially for those who love nature and sports, is to ride a bicycle from Polesine Parmense on the bank of the river Po to the Ongina River, and then reach Busseto. From here, after visiting the most important sights, go back in the direction of Soragna with a stop in Roncole.
From Parma, Food Valley Bike and it is a cycle path about seventy kilometers long that connects Parma to Busseto, through the Terre Verdiane, passing through other municipalities of the Lower Parma area: Sorbolo Mezzani, Colorno, Sissa Trecasali, Roccabianca, Polesine Zibello; with the possibility of reaching Brescello in the Reggio area.
Every year in October the Festival Verdi takes place in Parma with some events in Busseto, the famous festival to celebrate the birthday of the Maestro.
Located 5 km from Busseto, along the Strada del Culatello, the small village is famous as the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi, today a destination for many visitors.
Today the house has become a multimedia, innovative museum itinerary, where you can visit the rooms independently, with the help of a tablet and a pair of headphones, which make the visit suggestive and full of insights into the life of the great Maestro.
Linked to Verdi's fame is also the nearby Church of San Michele of the XVI-XVII century, later rebuilt several times, where the Maestro was baptized. Inside, you can visit the organ on which he practiced as a child under the guidance of Don Pietro Baistrocchi, the priest who was his first music teacher.
In the village there is also the permanent anthological exhibition "Giovanni Guareschi" (open by reservation tel. +39 0524 92495) in the headquarters of the study center dedicated to the Parma writer, creator of the stories of Don Camillo and Peppone.
Sant'Agata di Villanova d'A
Still in the surroundings of Busseto, Villa Verdi is a pretty place to visit: it was a property that Giuseppe Verdi bought in 1848 and which later became his residence.