Lying on the hills of the Arda Valley, in prehistoric times covered by the sea, where many fossils can still be found, Castell’Arquato is located in Placentianum Natural Geological Reserve, which owes its name to this historic period.
An Orange Flag of ‘Touring Club Italiano’, this well preserved medieval borough can fascinate everybody with its beauty and the view it offers. Both those who admire it from a distance as well as those who explore it, going around its alleys and medieval stone houses, would be delighted by its charm.
In the winter, in the autumn, in the spring and in the summer, Castell’Arquato is always beautiful and we recommend visiting it several times to appreciate its many wonders.
Visitors may enjoy a suggestive stay in Luigi Illica’s native house, from which it is possible to admire the rooftops which inspired the poet for Puccini’s Bohème. In the past, famous guests (Gabriele d'Annunzio, Giosuè Carducci and Giacomo Puccini) stayed in this liberty style historic residence. The restoration of the building was completed in 2008, under the supervision of the Board for Fine Arts. Today Casa Illica rents holiday apartments.
Visitors will be amazed by its majestic monumental center with the municipal square, located in the upper part of the village, surrounded by ‘Rocca Viscontea’, an imposing fortress protecting the borough. Also really interesting is the Santa Maria Assunta Church, a remarkable Romanesque complex with Gothic and Renaissance elements, and the Podesta Palace. The small Santa Maria Assunta Church Museum has many sacred art jewels from the 13th to the 14th century.
Located in the former 16th century Holy Spirit Hospital, Cortesi Geological Museum has a permanent display of fossils found in the surrounding areas; among these the most important ones belong to a whale, whose wooden reconstruction is displayed. The exhibition follows an educational tour going through all the stages of the history of Earth.
Last but not least, Illica Museum is dedicated to the famous dramatist and author of librettos from Castell’Arquato, who wrote La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly for Puccini and Isabeau, Iris, and Le Maschere for Mascagni. The museum displays scores, ancient editions of librettos, costumes, sculptures, and photos portraying Illica with the great composers he worked with during his intense and adventurous life.
Previously chosen as the location for films (‘Lady Hawke’ in the '80s and between 2022 and 2023 for the musical "Verona"), it has recently joined ‘Italy’s most beautiful boroughs’. It also took the title of ‘Wine Town’.
You can’t leave Castell’Arquato without stopping by the Municipal Winery, located in the renovated halls of the Podesta Palace. Here you’ll be able to taste typical products in a polished and cosy atmosphere or buy local wines made by the vineyards of the surrounding hills.
Besides traditional delicacies, in the area of Castell’Arquato you may taste the traditional ‘anolini’, re-interpreted. The stuffing is not made of meat, as usually happens in the area of Piacenza, but it's made of cheese, therefore the dish is lighter. ‘Vin Santo’, produced in Vigoleno, is a nectar appreciated even by gourmets.
In Bacedasco Alto, near Castell’Arquato, Castell’Arquato Golf Club has an 18 hole golf course, Par 73, CR 71,8, SR124, a driving range with 15 areas (6 are covered), a putting green, night lights and a bunker.
Luigi Illica Award, in the last week of July, is the opera festival hosted in the wonderful town hall square.
Monterosso Festival, at the end of April, is dedicated to the typical wine of Val D'Arda. The producers exhibit their wines along the narrow streets of Castell'Arquato.
Vernasca Silver Flag, in June, is a race of old cars on the surrounding hills.
Vigolo Marchese (about 6 Km away) is definitely worth a visit for the Romanesque Saint Giovanni Church and Baptistery, the only remains of a wide Benedictine complex restored at the beginning of the 20th century.