The name Fontanellato comes from Fontana lata which means big fountain; the village is located in the so called Bassa Parmense (flat land) and it's 5 Km away from the via Emilia and the rivers Taro and Stirone.
It's one of the most famous villages of the flat land, enriched by the presence of the Sanvitale family since the end of the 1300s, who left the most significant trace with the castle in the center of the village. Visiting Fontanellato means having a taste of the slow and quiet life of the flat land, of its places of art and of course of its cuisine. In 2004 Fontanellato received the title of slowcity, based upon indicators such as urban quality, infrastructures, hospitality, and typical local product promotion. The town has also received the title of City of Art and Culture and the Orange flag of the Touring Club Italiano.
Fontanellato is beautiful in every time of the year because it's a very lively village with many events all year long. In autumn and winter you'll find it asleep in the fog while in the summer it shines with the colours of the countryside and its many events.
The landscape is typical of the flat land, with wide crops and springs fed by underground waters that flow very deep and are covered by a waterproof layer of clayey soil. These sources come up to the surface bringing clear waters for different canals, including the moat that surrounds the Rocca Sanvitale of Fontanellato.
The Rocca is by far the main attraction of Fontanellato. Located in the center of the main square, it's a huge fortress erected in the 14th century on the remains of a former 12th century building. After many restoration works throughout the years, it was transformed from a defensive fortress into the house of the Sanvitale Earls, who have lived there for about six centuries. Open all year long, it features guided tours of the furnished halls and of the fabulous room of Diana and Atteone, frescoed by Parmigianino, and the optical room.
Other places to visit are the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine del Rosario, built in 1514, that attracts many pilgrims all year long, the Oratory of the Assunta with its wooden sacristy dated 1720, a work by Giulio Seletti and decorations by Sebastiano Galeotti, the Municipal theatre, designed by Alessandro Sanvitale but destroyed completely in 1832, whose structure dates back to the 19th century and iis based on a project presented in 1858 by the architect Pier Luigi Montacchini, the former Sanvitale stables, villa Gandini and the Botanical park.
Every Saturday of each month, from February to May and on other special days, at the Rocca Sanvitale there's "Il gusto della cultura", a night with tastings, Renaissance dance and animated scenes, when the love relationships of the castle come back to life.
Visitors can see the rooms and meet up with the characters of the Sanvitale family. The visit is followed by a dinner with typical local food: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, culaccia or culatello, bruschettas, homemade pies and wines by local producers.
Among the cured meats we find culatello and spalla cotta, then the tortelli d’erbetta, ravioli stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese served with grated parmigiano and melted butter, anolini stuffed pasta in broth, parmesan way tripe, roasted duck and guinea-hen, salmì hare, rabbit and frogs. Moreover Fontanellato produces a particular cured meat, called Culaccia of Fontanellato. Cheese can be bought directly at the cheese factories that have the sign with the cheese shape. Fontanellato is also located along the "Road of Culatello di Zibello".
The antiques market every third Sunday of every month; "Rocca e natura", a market of natural and organic products every fourth Sunday of every month; "La dispensa dei Sanvitale", a gastronomic market. "Fuochi e suoni sull'acqua", fireworks with music at the Rocca, every year in June with a party all day and night. The Municipal theatre hosts a drama and music season in the winter and a lyric and operetta season in the outdoor arena in the summer.
The flat land is the best place for bike lovers. Nolo bike is a service of bike rental located in 10 villages of the Bassa parmense. In Fontanellato bikes can be rented to go around the village or to reach other places in the countryside among old farmhouses and small villages, or to visit the other two castles of the area: San Secondo and Soragna. It is also a relaxed and slow way to see the birthplaces of Verdi and Guareschi, enjoying the gastronomic products, among parish churches and castles, often with the possibility to take the bike on a boat and sail on the Po river.