Scipione is a place of landscape and cultural interest, located about 3 km from Salsomaggiore.
The most suggestive place of Scipione is definitely its small medieval village, where the thousand-year-old Castle of Scipione of the Marquis Pallavicino stands. The Castle is now open to the public with organzied guided tours and themed events.
The first document that proves its existence dates back to 1025, when the castle was founded by Alberto Pallavicino. Built as a military fortress, the castle was part of a major system of defence devised by the Pallavicino family to protect and control their feudal estate, which encompassed a vast area between the municipalities and the dioceses of Parma, Cremona and Piacenza, from the river Po to the Apennines.
Legend has it that the Castle owes its name to a pre-existing Roman villa built by relatives of Scipio Aemilianus, the General who destroyed Carthage.
In 1267, at the time of the struggles between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the Castle was attacked several times by Piacenza and later, in 1403 and 1407, by the Guelph Rossi, Da Correggio and Terzi families.
In 1447, the Castle was rebuilt and transformed by the brothers Lodovico and Giovanni Pallavicino, who upgraded its defences in response to the needs of the day. The new round tower and the reinforced, battered parapets, designed to be less vulnerable to attacks employing the new firearms of the age, date from that period.
Also from that period is the cramped prison that remains in its original condition.
Other major works were undertaken around the mid-seventeenth century, including the elegant loggia overlooking the surrounding hills, a grand doorway surmounted by the family crest leading to the main courtyard, and inside the castle, frescos and ornately decorated coffered ceilings.
In some rooms, the ancient medieval ceilings are jealously preserved, with their original decorations, tender garlands, flowers and crests that tell of distant eras.
The most suitable period for a trip to Scipione is from March to the end of October, extending the period of interest to the Christmas holidays, when the castle is festively decorated and organizes guided tours and special events.
A little curiosity for music lovers: built in 1887 on the site of the ancient cemetery and the remains of the Sant'Antonio oratory, the cemetery houses the tomb of Demetrio Stratos, famous singer, musician and vocal researcher, who passed away in 1979 at the age of 34.
The area of Scipione is an ideal destination for light hiking and cycling routes, which can be consulted and downloaded also online.
Scipione houses part of the Stirone Park, which, in addition to having a great value from an archaeological and landscape point of view, also offers a fun network of trails to explore by mountain bike or on foot.
In the immediate vicinity of Scipione, there are two other places of great interest: San Nicomede and Salsominore.
Both crossroads of cycling and walking routes, they are also places that still testify to the more or less recent history of Salsomaggiore and its activities.
It is definitely worth visiting the Romanesque Parish Church of San Nicomede, built in the XII and XIII centuries above the pre-Romanesque crypt of the IX century.
The parish church was built in 880 AD on the site of an ancient, pre-existing spring; it was enlarged and modified in the Romanesque style with the construction of an apse in the XIII century and the nave in the XIV century.
In the apse stands the ancient marble well built around 800: it was customary for pilgrims to come here with a brick on their head and draw blessed water from the well to cure them of headaches.
Within walking distance from the Parish Church of San Nicomede, you find the banks of Stirone river and the nearby museum complex, with its headquarters at the small Millepioppi farm. In a single structure, there is the Visitor centre, the Natural History Museum of Stirone Regional River Park and the Paleontological Museum “Ancient Sea”.
Instead, in the nearby area of Salsominore you can still see the latest archaeological evidence of the ancient Saline Farnesiane, a portico structure that stands on the stretch of cycle path that connects Salsominore to San Nicomede.
Within walking distance you find also the old Pumped Storage Power Station of Salsominore, evidence of an industrial past based on the extraction of thermal waters and for a short period of crude oil!
A curiosity: the site was also one of the oldest and most productive oil wells in the Emilian Apennines, called, for its exceptional productivity: "Pozzo Trionfo".
The ancient Church of Christ the Saviour, whose recent restorations have allowed it to be dated to the V century, is interesting, too.