We decided to offer you a camper intinerary between Val Tidone and Val Trebbia after a fantastic trip of our own, a journey that takes you into the most authentic countryside of Emilia Romagna. We left Parma and reached Borgonovo Val Tidone by motorway. There is no dedicated camper rest-area here, but you can use the large square next to the Rock, in via Saliceti, for the day.
There are two main buildings that you should visit, the Rocca and Santa Maria Assunta Collegiate. The Rocca today houses the town council, but was created in 1196 to protect the western border of the territory, which explains its towers and the fortified entrances. Surrounded by a deep moat that could be filled with water when need (today it is empty), the Rocca is open only on Saturday mornings. The Santa Maria Assunta Collegiate is a splendid Gothic building with 14th century frescos and three naves. The interior is breathtaking with marble doorjambs, Stern’s oval representation of the Virgin Mary and the rosary chapel.
@Turismo a Piacenza, Ziano Piacentino
Next we head to Ziano Piacentino, signposted along the road. The slope takes you into the enchanting Piacentine hills full of vineyards. You cannot park in the small town, unfortunately, since the roads are really tight, so we suggest that you park at a local food producers’, and then make your way into the town centre. In the Church of “S. Paolo Apostolo”, you can admire the magnificent masterpiece by Ulisse Sartini, “The Ascensione”.Unfortunately, the church was already closed when we arrived, so we made a note to return another time. Ziano is made of six areas, each with its own cemetery and monument to our fallen soldiers. The areas are:
The Mills of Val Tidone
A few kilometres down the road we reach Vicobarone, with its hills full of vineyards that produce the world-famous Gutturnio: this is made from a mix of Bonarda or Croatina grapes (30-45%) and Barbera grapes (55-70%), and is very good alongside a main dish, appetising first courses or meat dishes. Our next stop, Val Tidone, is famous for its ancient mills, witnesses to the important role that milling played in the past in the middle and high Tidone Valley. There are at least fifty mills left, but few still feature functioning traditional machinery. For lunch, we stopped in a typical local venue, a fully functioning mill that also serves as a restaurant and a B&B. We prefer to try dishes from the region to discover new tastes, or enjoy traditions that are now disappeared. We chose Piacentine cold cuts, tortelli “with the tail” with fresh mushroom sauce, and the legendary pisarei e fasò.
We did not choose the cold cuts by chance: three of the main Piacentine cold cuts are the coppa, pancetta and salame, produced from swine herds specifically raised to supply the meat for these DOP products, and who can only come from Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy – the working of these meats is limited by law to the province of Piacenza. Only ham makers in the Piacenza province and certified by the rigorous checking systems can make DOP Piacentine cold cuts, and use the DOP mark. The Piacentina tortelli with ricotta, known in dialect as “turtéi”, are the most traditional dish of the region: a lean meal made without meat for Friday evenings or Lent. They are shaped like a sweet and have a rich filling, a feast of cheese and butter. The main dish of the Piacentine kitchen however is the pisarei e fasò, a dish made with “poor” ingredients that clearly reveal its origins as a peasant food. Pisarei e fasò are balls of flour, grated bread and water, covered with a rich sauce of tomatoes and beans with lard. We strongly recommend that you accompany your meal with a good bottle of Gutturnio from a local cellar!
From Val Tidone to Val Trebbia: the beauty of travel
After lunch, we started out again towards the small town centre of Nibbiano and the magnificent Molato Dam. This is only open from 10am to 6pm. You need to go first to the coffee bar on the left, and you can park next door. An imposing sight even from a distance, it was built between 1921-1928, later restored and continually improved until 2000, it is the largest artificial lake in the Valley, since it helps remove any danger to local people from the waters of the Tidone river, The lake is called Trebecco because this was the name of the valley where the construction company that built the dam was located.
Next we move to the Penice Pass: 1149 metres above sea-level, at the feet of Mount Penice, the square welcomes you with a statue of san Colombano, patron saint of the town and protector of motorcyclists. After visiting the sanctuary, the nexty stop is Agazzano, to visit the Castle, and then inevitably, the road back home. The trip from Val Tidone to Val Trebbia is an ideal opportunity to experience the nature, culture and gastronomic traditions of our splendid Emilia: we are sure that it will win you over too!