Located in the centre of the Padana Valley, Piacenza is on the right bank of the river Po, only 67 Km from Milan. Along the final part of the ancient Via Emilia, the town is located in the Northernmost and Westernmost part of the Emilia region.
This quiet, provincial town, easy to live in and dedicated to the pleasures of good food, is also characterised by small treasures, and memories of a historically rich past, like its Cathedral, ‘Palazzo Gotico’, ‘Palazzo Farnese’. Not to mention the wonderful noble mansions, its several churches and the narrow streets of the centre, which, though appearing severe, hide unexpected surprises.
Any season is good to go to Piacenza. However, we recommend spring and autumn, when the mild climate makes walking along its streets more pleasant.
Undoubtedly, besides the two squares, ‘Piazza Duomo’ and ‘Piazza Cavalli’, the latter being the emblem of the city with the two equestrian statues by Mochi on the background of ‘Palazzo Gotico’, further sites are worth visiting : the Romanesque ‘Sant’Antonino ’ Basilica, one of the pilgrims’ stations along the Via Francigena, with its ‘Porta del Paradiso’ (Heaven’s Gate), ‘ Santa Maria di Campagna’ church which preserves, among others, frescoes by Pordenone and San Savino Basilica with the 12th century mosaics representing the cycle of the months.
Among the many places to visit in the streets of the city centre, San Sisto church, hidden from sight on purpose, is rich in frescoes, wrought iron works and 18th century decorations, while the Municipal Theatre, dedicated to Verdi and built by Lotario Tomba is like a miniature ‘Teatro alla Scala’.
Another remarkable place to visit is the beautiful ‘Palazzo Farnese’, built by Vignola, where Palazzo Farnese Municipal Museums are located; here it is possible to admire the Etruscan liver, Botticelli’s Tondo, while Alberoni Art Gallery displays the famous ‘Ecce Homo’ by Antonello da Messina.
You can’t leave Piacenza without visiting Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery, which offers a complete view of Italian figurative art starting from the second half of the 19th century.
But taste is important too, so it is definitely worth trying at least one typical dish from Piacenza in the several restaurants and ‘trattorie’.
Not everybody knows that Piacenza is a real ‘food valley’and that it produces the biggest amount of D.O.P and D.O.C cured meats, cheeses and wines in Italy. ‘State of the art’ food and wines to taste like ‘coppa’, salami and pancetta; ‘pisaréi e fasö’, ‘anolini’ and ‘tortelli con la coda’, ‘bomba di riso’ (first courses) and ‘piccula ad cavall’ (second course). Everything must obviously be accompanied by wines from Piacenza only, among which the red ‘Gutturnio’ is the best known.
Besides the rich Opera and Drama season at Piacenza’s Municipal Theatre, Piacenza Jazz Fest , held from Februar until April , has become a nationally important event.
From Piacenza you may easily reach all the magnificent Castelli del Ducato di Parma e Piacenza (Castles of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza) open to the public, which characterise the territory of Piacenza, as well as the neo-gothic borough of Grazzano Visconti (about 20 Km away) which takes visitors back to the past. Among the Art boroughs to visit are Castell'Arquato (35km) and the ancient Bobbio (45 Km).