Contignaco is a hilly place of landscape and cultural interest, located about 3 km from Salsomaggiore.
Contignaco is a place that offers different ideas from a landscape, historical, cultural and food and wine point of view.
Of great importance is the parish church of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), also known as Contignaco parish church, a Catholic church of Romanesque design. The original church was built in the Romanesque style in the XII century. Fortified in 1330 to resist the attacks that mainly affected the castle, the church was restored in 1391 by lohannes de Saselinis, and between 1781 and 1789 it was completely transformed according to the Baroque style.
Just beyond San Giovanni Battista parish church, on the opposite side of the main road, there is a dirt road which leads to the top of the hill, where Contignaco Castle stands, also known as Fortress of the Aldighieri family. Recently reopened to the public by will of the owners, the Castle is now accessible to guided organized tours and hosts various events.
It was built around the XI century by Adalberto Pallavicino and it seems that the main tower, over 30 meters high and still well preserved, dates back to 1030. In 1315 after violent riots it was conquered by the Aldighieri family of Parma, belonging to the same family from which Dante Alighieri descended.
Legend has it that Dante himself stayed at the castle during the year of his exile. Around the Castle you can admire splendid examples of oaks (Quercus Robur L.), cedars (Cedrus Libanotica Lk.), cypresses (Cupressus Sempervirens L.), laurel oaks (Laurus Nobilis L.); the centuries-old oak, with trunk of over two meters in diameter, located at the entrance of the Castle, is absolutely remarkable.
The Castle is also a vineyard which produces high quality wines; you can buy them or taste them directly in the castle during one of the special events organized by the owners.
Even the local cheese factory, the place of production of the famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, is accessible both to go on guided tours with a reservation and to buy the delicious products.
The ideal period for a visit to Contignaco is from the beginning of spring to the end of autumn. During the Christmas holidays, Contignaco Castle organizes events for the occasion.
Lastly, “Gavinell” Botanic Garden of Medicinal plants is also interesting.
The garden extends over a planted area of 12 hectares, with some 50000 m² open to the public. You can admire more than 450 species of aromatic and medicinal plants, some of them very rare and native, divided by familiy and healing properties. Among them, one of the most notable for its beauty and importance is the extraordinary White Lavender of Salsomaggiore, which can only be admired at the Botanic Garden.
Surrounded by a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, visitors can linger in the “Hortus Conclusus”, a historically accurate reconstruction of an area of medieval gardens used for quiet contemplation.
The farm has an herbal medicine with herbal teas, infusions, creams, bath salts, medicinal herbs, honey and preparations for the kitchen with the famous thermal salt of Salsomaggiore, and a olfactory, which hosts perfume demonstrations of essences, oils and cosmetic and food products that the precious herbs are able to offer.
Contignaco is an ideal destination for outdoor physical activity lovers: light trekking routes for walking lovers, cycling routes and a spectacular golf field, included in the Parma Golf Experience circuit.