Perhaps considered less famous than other cities in Emilia Romagna, Piacenza holds many treasures, proving to all intents and purposes the perfect destination for a trip out of town by camper. Culture and food and wine tradition are not lacking and offer the visitor many opportunities to visit for a truly experiential journey: here are 10 things to see in Piacenza during a relaxing weekend.
10 things to see in Piacenza: our top list
Located in a strategic position, Piacenza is a crucial point of passage both from the motorway and along the Via Emilia, an important node on the banks of the largest river in Italy and also a link between Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. Considered a liveable and very welcoming city, it immediately offers the visitor the feeling of feeling at home: for this reason, many travelers choose it as a destination for a weekend away.
Despite the small size, there are many places of attraction that are worth a visit, so after parking the camper in the parking area of Viale Sant’Ambrogio, here is our personal top list of 10 things to see in Piacenza by camper:
- On foot from the parking area towards the historic center you will find the Monument to the bridges, in Piazzale Milano: it is the monument that celebrates the Genius Pontieri Lagunari Regiment that helped the city during the First World War. In fact, the Isonzo and Piave rivers and the companies of the Pontieri in action are represented. The Roman Goddess dominates the marble group with the Winged Victory in her hand.
- Following on your right is the imposing Palazzo Farnese. It houses the Civic Museums inside. Today it houses the Archaeological Museum, the Carriage Museum, the Risorgimento Museum, the Pinacoteca, the Ducal Chapel and the State Archive;
- Continuing the road we reach the center of the city: Piazza dei Cavalli is the perfect starting point for a walk in the historic city center.
Let’s find out what you find inside Piazza Cavalli:
- the imposing two equestrian statues depicting Ranuccio (on the right looking at the Gothic) and his father Alessandro Farnese.
- the Gothic Palace is the seat of the Municipality of Piacenza and dominates Piazza Cavalli. It can only be visited externally: its beautiful Gothic facade, divided horizontally by two different types of cladding, one in brick and one in terracotta, is an enchantment for the eyes;
- Palazzo dei Mercanti: houses the municipal offices.
- Governor’s Palace: it is the seat of the Chamber of Commerce and inside the gallery you will find shops
- Church of San Francesco: built between 1278 and 1363 by the Friars Minor who quickly built the church and annexed monastery. The most important event connected to the church was, in 1848, the proclamation, which took place here with a plebiscite, of the annexation of Piacenza to the Kingdom of Sardinia.
We continued our walking tour from the square:
- Piazza Duomo: you should know that until the creation of Piazza Cavalli and the Gothic Palace, this Piazza and the Duomo were the center of the civil and religious life of the city. In the center of the square is the monument to the Immaculate Conception.
The Cathedral of Piacenza
A visit inside is to be done for a number of reasons:
- The interior contains the frescoes by Carracci and Procaccini in the presbytery and Guercino and Morazzone in the dome
- The early Christian baptismal font documents the ancient origins of the Duomo
- Find the tomb of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini
- Also very interesting is the crypt where the remains of S. Giustina are kept
- On the tip of the conical spire there is a rotating golden copper angel. The statue is one of the symbols of the city, affectionately called by the people of Piacenza “L’Angil dal Dom”.
- Next to the Cathedral, with entrance from via Prevostura, you will find the Cathedral Museum: open since 2015, it displays the well-known Code 65, other precious codes, silverware once in the Cathedral. The museum is integrated into the path leading up to the dome of the Cathedral, frescoed by Morazzone and Guercino, with which it is possible to see the frescoes up close and walk along the medieval walkways inside the walls of the Cathedral made with the so-called “mur épais”. A visit not to be missed for those who want to take a lot of steps and those who are not afraid of heights.
We continue our walk:
- You must know that Sant’Antonino is the patron of Piacenza and among the things to see in the city we could not fail to mention the Basilica dedicated to him. Its peculiarity lies in having an octagonal bell tower;
- for theater lovers, a gem not to be missed is the Municipal Theater of Piacenza, the first to be built in Emilia. It was designed in 1803 and completed by the architect Lotario Tomba, the same as the Governor’s Palace. Stendhal defined it as “the most beautiful theater in Italy”;
- if you are passionate about art, do not miss the Ricci Oddi Gallery, a real city treasure, of which you will find more information here. Born from the private collection of the noble Piacenza Giuseppe Ricci Oddi, it offers works by artists of the caliber of Hayez, Fattori and Boccioni;
- among the 10 things to see in Piacenza you cannot miss via XX Settembre, the shopping street once called Strä dritta;
- are you tired? You must know that the city has a long avenue, the Facsal, of almost two kilometers, and is located at the gates of the historic center, in a prominent position on the Renaissance walls. Shaded by centuries-old plane trees, the avenue is well suited for walks in the countryside, bicycle rides and moments of relaxation on the numerous benches scattered along the way. Understand why we asked you if you’re tired?
- Last but not least, if you move away from the historic center, on the Via Emilia you will find the Galleria and Collegio Alberoni: it is one of the most significant historic buildings in Piacenza, it has the characteristic of having maintained its original function as a school for the preparation for ecclesiastical life . The structure includes a precious library rich in about 130,000 volumes, the Physics Cabinet, the Natural Sciences Cabinet, a perfectly functioning seismic and meteorological Observatory (1802) and an Astronomical Observatory (1870). The pride of the College is the Pinacoteca, made up of the Cardinal’s Roman and Piacenza collections and subsequent acquisitions. The pearl of the collection is the Ecce Homo absolute masterpiece of ancient art, the work of Antonello da Messina.
What to eat in Piacenza:
As we always say, after a long walk and visit is appetite and what better solution is found in local food and wine? Even Piacenza doesn’t joke about goodness and so let’s tell you about some of the specialties that you absolutely must taste and that in the city you can find in typical trattorias and restaurants
Our personal conclusions
Piacenza is a city that deserves a trip with taste and a weekend is not enough to be visited all: here we have entered only the 10 things that we have seen. But there are many others that we will certainly not miss in a future visit. It is also very easy to visit on foot, everything is within reach of the historic center as well as from the center there are cycle paths that take you even outside the city.