Along the provincial road SP 654 of the Val Nure, between the plain and the foothills, lies the district of Vigolzone, an area of important archaeological discoveries and of castles and towers that remind us of a heroic past.
From mediaeval times up until the 19th century, the history of this territory is intertwined with that of the Anguissola family, feudal lords of much of the valley.
Today Vigolzone, with its hillsides covered by vineyards, and studded with wineries, farmsteads, and agriturismi, deserves its place on the wine road, the Strada dei vini e dei sapori dei colli piacentini.
Though of ancient origin, today the town has a predominantly modern appearance. The mediaeval castle – privately owned and visible only from the outside – with its 17th-century chapel (open on special occasions), and the modern church of San Mario are the most interesting sights.
The Museum of the Vine and of Wine, at Chiesuola near Vigolzone, in the small town of La Tosa. More than just a simple museum, this is an interactive experience which begins just outside Vigolzone, along the road that leads to the farmstead, where there are a series of signs indicating the different soils and the vines planted on them. Continuing to the winery, you will find more than 500 objects connected with the wine theme, and the visit concludes in the Library.
The picturesque village of Grazzano Visconti.
Particularly famous among the first courses are the tortelli con la coda De.Co of the Municipality of Vigolzone since 2006). According to the tradition, this famous filled pasta, closed with an inimitable “plaited tail”, was created in Vigolzone on the occasion of a visit by Francesco Petrarch to his friend Bernardo Anguissola, lord of the Castle, in June 1351.
The delicious local salumi or cured meats, cheeses, and meat can be accompanied by the celebrated white and red wines produced in the numerous wineries of the area.
Restaurants and agriturismi frequently offer the D.O.P. cured meats of the area both as a starter and as an afternoon snack, accompanied by “chisolini” or torta fritta (bread dough rolled out and deep-fried in lard, to be eaten hot or warm). The perfect dessert to conclude a meal or snack is the fig cake, the Torta di Fichi De.Co., the traditional sweet of Albarola.
The territory is criss-crossed by kilometres of paths that can be followed on foot or by bicycle (the Antiche Vie or Ancient Ways), some easy and suited to everyone, others more demanding, that wind across the plain, through the vineyards, arriving in old villages where time is still determined by the ancient rhythms of the farming world, with panoramic points that open out like terraces above the plain below.
In addition to these there are longer routes (nature itineraries in the Val Nure-Val Chero) which wind between Vigolzone, Carpaneto, San Giorgio Piacentino, Podenzano, and Ponte dell’Olio, combining interest in landscape and sport with the discovery of the natural environment and the fauna that inhabits it.
Carnival in the Val Nure – Val Chero
In July the Festa del Tortello, the Tortelli Festival, a major gastronomic event in the evening with entertainment.
Summer festivals and food fiar in the villages.
Before reaching Vigolzone, beside the provincial road, is the romantic village of Grazzano Visconti.
The famous panoramic road of the Bagnolo leads towards Ponte dell’Olio, passing little churches, villas and the remains of fortifications.
Bicchignano is a splendid panoramic spot just below the Pass of the Bagnolo.
The Villa Alberoni can be found at Veano, immersed in a magnificent park (today it belongs to the Collegio Alberoni; it is used for events and can only be visited on certain occasions).
Chiulano, which dates back to the Romans, is the highest village in the municipality, and a well known panoramic point.
In the valley, along the course of the Nure river, are Villò, Albarola and Carmiano, villages with a long history and known today primarily for their wineries (at Albarola there are two magnificent noble residences – Villa Peyrano and Palazzo Barattieri – both with a winery attached).