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cinema and taste: a camper itinerary trough Emilia

Cinema and taste: a camper itinerary through Emilia among artists, films and flavours

Cinema and taste often go hand in hand among the tables of taverns in an itinerary made up of characters and anecdotes that this time I will tell while traveling around Emilia in a camper.

In the great plain embraced by the Apennines to the south and crossed by the banks of the Great River to the north, a journey between cinema and taste is a camper itinerary through the villages of Emilia with ancient castles that tell of love and bell towers that tower over the poplars.

Panoramic places of historical films such as Novecento and of characters such as Giuseppe Verdi with his music and his exceptional compositional talent. Or Giovanni Guareschi from whom Peppone and Don Camillo were born and the life stories of the “small world”.

The stages of this itinerary, among the scenes and narrative writings of a countryside deeply linked to the agricultural world, take you to:

  • San Secondo the Rocca dei Rossi, Giuseppe Verdi and the cooked shoulder
  • Roncole Verdi and the twentieth century
  • Roncole Verdi, Giovannino Guareschi and the cicciolata
  • Polesine Parmense, ZIbello and Roccabianca Guareschi and Culatello

They are names where cured meats have made the history of taste and given to the world, giving them fame, the villages of the plain, or rather of the “low”, as we from Parma call it for a fantastic camper itinerary in this part of Emilia.

Let’s start our camper itinerary in Emilia


  • San Secondo the Rocca dei Rossi, Giuseppe Verdi and the cooked shoulder

I’ll start by revealing that for gourmets today, San Secondo shoulder is the best cooked cured meat in Italy.

Spalla Cotta of San Secondo

Its fame is lost in the mists of time among the typical mists of the Parma area and the stories that say that its delicacy was already known in the 12th century and also used as a currency of exchange. Documents have been found which testify that already in those times pork shoulder was produced and consumed with such a taste as to delight refined palates.

The production area of ​​this cured meat is very small, located between the towns of Fontanellato, Roccabianca, Pieveottoville and obviously San Secondo.

We have already told you about her in our article

Do you know everything about the cooked shoulder of San Secondo?

and therefore we invite you to read the article and visit the company that we also visited to understand how this cured meat truly is a “gem of craftsmanship”

And Giuseppe Verdi, a lover of culatello, was above all a great admirer of this cured meat. So much so that he often gave it as a gift to friends complete with a letter in tow, where he personally explained in detail the steps for his tasting culture.

 One of his most famous writings on the subject is this:

“Together with this one of mine, you will receive from the railway company a box containing two shoulders for San Secondo use, which we will send, one for you and one for the Ricordi family. Choose the one you want. Please note that to cook the shoulder well you need to:

1) put it in warm water for about two hours, to remove the salt.

2) It is then placed in more cold water, and boiled over a low heat, so that it does not explode, for about three and a half hours, and perhaps four for the larger ones. To know if the cooking is right, pierce the shoulder with a cure-dent and, if it enters easily, the shoulder is cooked.

3) Leave it to cool in its own broth and serve.

Look especially at cooking; if it’s hard it’s not good, if it’s overcooked it becomes dry and stringy”.


His advice was to enjoy it before the start of summer, maybe I’ll add under an awning for a nice table with friends and a bottle of Fortana, a particular wine from this land.

Verdi was a fan of the San Secondo shoulder. In fact, since he was young he often went to San Secondo to eat this cured meat at a friend’s house,then returning to Roncole still in the carriage with a superb cock in the box.

Furthermore, it is known that he had also tried to buy the Rocca di San Secondo to build the retirement home for musicians, which he then had built in Villanova d’Arda.

What to see in San Secondo Parmense

Rocca dei Rossi of San Secondo @castelli del Ducato

The Rocca dei Rossi is the main monument of San Secondo and thinking about taste and cinema, in a camper itinerary in Emilia, you must include a stop in this village.

This ancient manor, born as a fortress, from the 15th century became the sumptuous Renaissance residence of the Conti Rossi family, from Pier Maria II de’ Rossi onwards, one of the most important families in the Parma area. From this residence the Rossi dominated and administered all their fiefdoms.

 The grand staircase from 1500, the superb Hall of Rossian Deeds, the Hall of the Golden Ass with the evocative and unique story, in 17 panels, of the Golden Ass together with theimposing apparatusOffrescoes is stillTodayperfectly preserved and visitable. Consider that in San Secondo every year at the beginning of June the Palio di San Secondo has been held for almost thirty years. and it is possible to visit in the evening accompanied by a special guide in period clothing.

To organize your visit and information here is the link

But San Secondo is also home to a place of truly particular taste: the Coppini olive oil art museum, a private museum of olive oil art that we visited. The museum is housed in a renovated former dairy farm in whose outdoor space an agora has been created for events, conferences and concerts.

Agorà Orsi Coppini Museum or Olive Oil Art Museum

If instead you want a suggestion to taste the shoulder of San Secondo, in addition to the festival dedicated to it in the town of San Secondo at the beginning of August, you can stop for a good aperitif at Bar La Fata e La Strega in the central Via Roma. While to enjoy traditional dishes together with reinterpretations, a team of four women awaits you at the Osteria Antica Rocca just outside San Secondo on the road to San Quirico

Cinema and Taste a camper itinerary in Emilia

  • Roncole Verdi and the twentieth century

Court of Angels

On the subject of cinema and taste, our camper itinerary through the villages of Emilia and the lower Parma area takes you less than a kilometer from Giuseppe Verdi’s birthplace, where you find Corte delle Piacentine. Built in 1820, it was at the center of an estate of approximately 700 hectares with three side-by-side courtyards. Its south wing with its important façade has today been restored and is theCourt of Angels a splendid B&B.

And in 1970 it became a film set. At the Court of Piacentine in fact, many of the scenes of the film Novecento were filmed the colossal by Bernardo Bertolucci which tells a portion of Italian history from 1900 to 1945. For almost a year the troupe remained fixed in the court together with the performers: actors by the names of De Niro, Depardieu, Sutherland, Lancaster, Alida Valli and Stefania Sandrelli . And the family that lived there, and current owners the Lusardi were among the extras,

If your camper itinerary in Emilia takes you through these parts my suggestion is definitely to call and stop by for a visit ( Visiting the court for those who have seen this film gives the emotion of finding oneself on the set of a film that sublimely told 50 years of Italian history and class struggle with the agricultural panorama of the period.

  • Roncole Verdi, Giovannino Guareschi and the cicciolata

Guareschi museum

 But Roncole Verdi was also the set, this time of the life, of Giovanni Guareschi, as well as Giuseppe Verdi.

And in terms of taste, if Giuseppe Verdi preferred cooked shoulder, another pen of different expressions but allow me, equally sagacious, native of Fontanelle di Roccabianca, and who lived until the end of the fifties of the last century in Roncole Verdi, rejoiced for two slices of culatello and cicciolata.

To Giovanni Guareschi, Giovannino as they affectionately call him,in Roncole, in the rooms that were the family restaurant and managed by the children until 1995, there is a museum dedicated to it, which I suggest you visit.

Today thanks toIl Club dei 23 Association, you can visit the museum dedicated to him and the saga of humorous stories that made him most famous. Here you can find a permanent exhibition with over 200,000 documents and several videos.

As I wrote to you, Guareschi, as a good Emilian, loved cooking and good food. Enough to write 346 stories. These are real menus that reflect the traditions and customs on the occasion of gatherings of peasant families. And many people talk about two slices of culatello and cicciolata.

Just like culatello, cicciolata and salami, they are always present in the stories and films dedicated to Peppone and Don Camillo. In that “small world” set in a land of bitter political conflicts, where sanguine souls are always ready to “come to blows” and always ready to help each other, and where the countryside and its seasons are the rhythm of life, a table with culatello, a cicciolata salami and Lambrusco are never missing.

Cicciolata is a poor cured meat, which comes from cooking for hours the less noble parts of the pig which would otherwise be difficult to consume, mixed with aromatic herbs and spices. The result is a tile pressed between two wooden planks. The color is a dark brown and it is wrapped in a linen cloth. Once cooled, about 24 hours later, the tile, which has a compact but not hard appearance, is cut into thick slices to melt in the mouth and leave a rich and aromatic flavor.

Ideal to taste, as Guareschi wrote in 1954 in a story aboutFamily Courier, after many waits with polenta or a hot sandwich and a glass of Lambrusco.

The celebration that crowns the cicciolata is in November in the Roccabianca stage of the November Porc marathon, when the record-breaking cicciolata is hoisted on Sunday.

However, I must confide in you that it is difficult to find cicciolata on the menus of local trattorias and restaurants. It is much easier to find it at the delicatessens in the area. In Roncole, however, you will find excellent cured meats and typical dishes of this area in the two restaurants: Alle Roncole Antica Locanda and Osteria Vecchio Mulino.

Cinema and taste for a camper itinerary in Emilia: Roccabianca

  •  Roccabianca, Polesine Parmense, Guareschi and Culatello

Roccabianca from above

Positioned between the banks of the Po and the bends of the Taro torrent,Roccabianca of ancient Roman origins, and which was donated by Barbarossa to the Pallavicino family, saw the construction of the castle of Roccabianca by Pier Maria Rossi between 1450 and 1465 in honor of his beloved Bianca Pellegrini.Everything here speaks of love, but also of taste.

The castle has the typical shape of lowland castles and upon entering you immediately notice the coat of arms dedicated to Bianca. During the visit you will then find Griselda’s room with the pictorial cycle inspired by the Decameron and the love phrases. The old cellar with barrels also used to season cured meats, the ancient vinegar factory located in the attic and the distillery museum where you can now taste the production of theBaled Distillery whose property also owns the castle.

In the eighteenth-century square of Roccabianca, where the last stage of November Porc takes place, Gianni Amelio shot some scenes of “The Lord of the Ants” with Elio Germano and Totò Lo Cascio, as well as in Busseto where he recreated the interiors in a building in via Rome.

To visit the castle, check the times and days Who

  • Polesine Parmense Guareschi and Culatello

But I also told you that both Guareschi and Verdi enjoyed culatello.

So I end this journey into cinema and taste with Polesine Parma.

I suggest you include in this trip a stop to visit the interior of the Ancient Pallavicina Court. It is a castle/courtyard from the 1400s where the Spigaroli family lived as Giuseppe Verdi’s sharecroppers and which they later purchased and restored. Today is home to a relais, a starred restaurant, a trattoria dedicated to the area and a food museum.

The rooms tell of an ancient past and of a small courtyard a stone’s throw from the Po river to combine the visit with that of Museum of Culatello and Masalén o Culatello Museum.

During the visit you will be immersed in the life of the families of this land closely linked to the Po, in the pork butchery, and in the traditions of cured meats and culatello in particular. And just to seal Guareschi’s passion for the cured meats of this land, you will also find a photo of Giovanni among the culatelli displayed in the cellar to mature.

There are as many as 5,500 culatelli that you too will be able to see directly through the ancient underground cellars and a part of them are destined for the table of King Charles III of England.

To visit the court and the museum the link is this

 In conclusion

The journey between cinema and taste for a camper itinerary in Emilia could continue with films such as La Califfa shot by Alberto Bevilacqua in Parma, the UNESCO Capital of Gastronomy, or Bertolucci’s Luna. And again the film on Antonio Ligabue shot in that province of Reggio Emilia, home of the Tricolore, of the Erbazzone and a setting for precious balsamic and Lambrusco vinegars to be combined with unique dishes and cured meats, much loved by Ligabue himself.

Cinema and taste are a magnificent camper itinerary that Emilia, like any other region, can tell and accompany for a unique experience in the culture of rural tradition.

Camper stops

  • in Roccabianca there is no area dedicated to campers, but you can park the time for your visit to the castle in the car park on Via Voltini




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