In mid-February we went to discover Faenza looking for what to see and what to eat in a camper, and not only. The city par excellence of artisan ceramics, good food and culture. Come on, let’s start our story!
Faenza, city of ceramics, what to see and what to eat in a camper
Like all the cities of Romagna, welcome is the watchword, the accent will be, this “e” will be closed, it will have been a weekend with the sun and mild temperatures, but the city offers countless reasons to visit, including some very fascinating and that you can’t really miss. Let’s start with the ones we visited:
the International Ceramics Museum in Faenza is the largest collection in the world dedicated to ceramic art. Those who are passionate (like me) about ceramics cannot absolutely miss a visit and get lost in this complete and rich exhibition itinerary of all the history of ceramic art, of all eras and places located inside the former convent of San Maglorio.
Born in 1908 following an International Exhibition, it immediately revealed itself as an International reference. It is thanks to Gaetano Ballardini, the future founder of the Museum, if we have this immense and accurate collection. In May ’44, a bombing caused very serious damage, causing almost complete destruction with serious and incurable losses in the collections and archival material. He did not lose heart, in 1949 he reopened the rooms thanks to the enormous collaboration of museums, collectors, governments, ministers, to donate works and artifacts. At this juncture it is also worth mentioning the generous act of the great Pablo Picasso who donated works. Furthermore, on Sundays from March to May, workshops for children from 4 years are organized. Here is the site where you can find every complete reference of the activities and visits.
Municipal Theater Angelo Masini 1787
Thanks to the guided tour, we entered what is considered a refined example of Italian theater and one of the most significant of neoclassical architecture.
Created by Giuseppe Pistocchi started in 1780 and finished in 1787, the different decorations are beautiful inside each order, with the Tuscan columns and the Metopes, and the inscription around the last order of Ovid. Finally the statues, as many as 20 and well detailed, almost obsessive in their particularities. They represent Greek, Roman, and Muses, including Hercules, Neptune, Paris, Cupid, Venus, Prometheus, Athena, Zeus, Mercury, Orpheus, Proserpina. The ceiling has a rose window in the center with allegorical figures with the zodiac signs in a circle. In addition there is the noble barcaccia, that is the large stage, the only decorated that is connected to the reduced. The floor is still the original one, although over time there have been various interventions, especially for the restoration of the stuccos and metopes, ruined by oil lamps and in 1986 restored and modernized following safety regulations. Many others were the protagonists who participated: Antonio Trentanove, Gaetano Bertolani, Ballanti Graziani. For guided tours, contact the Proloco Office.
Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo
Beautiful on the outside, because in reality it was never finished, in fact the facade is made of edges and holes to support it and not of marble, as it should have been.
Inside, looking at the altar, on the left you will find the imposing Baptistery. Continuing Sant’Umiltà, and San Pier Damiani. In the transept you will find the altar of the Madonna delle Grazie, the patroness of the city. There are many peculiarities inside and some curiosities, which we know, but which we invite you to visit. The visit is free access, except during religious service hours
Next to the cathedral you will find the imposing fountain, one of the symbolic monuments of the city.
Once the water was drinkable, now unfortunately not. In fact, Faenza was one of the first cities in Romagna to acquire an aqueduct which, although limited to a few emission points, for a long time represented a source of pride for the community.
Liberty Square and Piazza del Popolo
Two connected squares that at the time bishop, lordship and people shared the spaces of power.
On one side you will find the Town Hall, inside the Palazzo Manfredi. In addition to the colonnade, the building still has a coffered ceiling and a part of the vault of the Molinella the covered passage between Piazza Nenni (where you can find the Office and Tourist Reception) and Piazza del Popolo, has a particular umbrella vault, decorated with grotesques in 1566 by Marco from Faenza from Faenza. Very beautifull!
In front of the town, instead, you will find the Palazzo del Podestà, with the bell of the tower to recall at the time, in case of need, the citizens in arms to defend the square. Inside it includes a church, prisons and stables. Then the loggia was added, at the expense of the shopkeepers with shop in the square.
Designed by Arch. Giuseppe Pistocchi, (the same of the Angelo Masini Theater), then continued by Arch. Antolini, the Palazzo del Conte Nicola Milzetti from the outside does not attract strong attention, inside there are two spectacular floors of beauty and curiosity.
Started to build in 1792 by Count Nicola, and then by his son Francesco he had the decorations made by a great painter Felice Giani. On the ground floor you can visit the rooms where Count Francesco Milzetti lived and the very elegant library.
You then enter the famous oval dressing room and the dining room. Going down the stairs you arrive in the staff kitchens.
Going up a simple staircase, you enter the main floor: from here you start the rooms, the first the vast Octagonal Room called Apollo Temple, then the Party Room or Achilles Gallery, surrounded by continuous decoration, the Room with Alcove and the Company Hall. Finally, after the Cabinet of Love, the small chapel. A path to be amazed. Today the Palace is owned by the state, as a National Museum of the neoclassical age in Romagna. For visits and costs, check the site always updated.
The historic shops
Faenza has attributed the official recognition of Bottega Storica to many trade and handicraft activities which constitute an important historical, cultural and valorization testimony for the city of local tradition in the production of ceramics. In fact, in the city at the Iat point you will find a map of the shops that will allow you not only to buy unique products that cannot be found elsewhere, but to speak directly with the artisans, with the people who produce them and let you tell them about the particularities.
We entered one of these workshops, Carla Lega Ceramiche d’Arte in Corso Mazzini and together with Carla herself she told us about the majolica, the red earth used, the silica dust, quartz, as they are then decorated with oxides, according to the traditional method, carnation, palmette, peacock or modern, like his. In short, a beautiful world, of tradition and originality that make Faenza the city of ceramics, recognized all over the world. We thank Carla for the time she dedicated to us.
What to eat in Faenza
We are in Romagna and Romagna means excellent cuisine, like all of our Italy, we always say it!
So, what are the typical dishes we ate that you absolutely must not miss?
Like many traditional regional Italian kitchens, even the Romagna one is characterized by “poverty”, both in the raw materials used and in the processing, but it is absolutely rich in taste.
do not miss the bruschetta with squacquerone and sausage, stuffed piadine, mixed croutons or the tasty mixed cold cuts
- first dishes
(and here the salivation begins to be copious): cappelletti (which are made here with a filling of melted cheese) and seasoned with ragout better if castrated (sheep), orecchioni butter and sage (urciòn in Romagna dialect), are a first course traditional deriving from the particular shape of this sort of ravioli, the typical curzul a typical fresh pasta from Faenza, the name derives from the dialect with which the laces of the shoes were called, (we ate them with shallots and bacon typical seasoning, a real goodness ), classic tagliatelle with meat sauce, potato gnocchi, seasoned with meat sauce.
All that is meat-based, that is castrato, pork, beef, rabbit, guinea fowl, grilled or baked: we ate the ham in vinegar (which is not Parma ham, to understand us but a slice of pork , thickly sliced and stewed slowly with aromas and smells before being glazed in the oven with balsamic vinegar served in a bed of radicchio).
- Side Dishes
simple as the onions in the oven, the cannellini beans seasoned with rosemary and extra virgin olive oil from Brisighella DOP, the radicchio with bruciatini or with diced browned and crispy bacon
- Can we forget the wines to water these goodies?
Of course not, therefore, we have the Albana, the first white in Italy to boast the DOCG, other whites DOC the Trebbiano or the reds Cagnina and Sangiovese DOC
- Finally the dessert
to properly end a lunch or dinner: eat Tortelli di San Lazzaro from Faenza only on the 5th Sunday of Lent, on the occasion of the feast of San Lazzaro. It is a poor dessert made of a puff pastry made with flour, water and salt and a filling of boiled chestnuts, then baked in the oven and then soaked in sapa. The tortello has an elongated shape with an ear of corn closure and alleged historians claim that the shape could be inspired by the figure of Lazarus wrapped in the bandages of the burial. Other excellent desserts, traditional is mulled milk: made with milk, sugar and many egg yolks and some egg whites. In short, a good local delicacy.
- Do not forget the important role of fruit
Romagna peaches and nectarines, kiwis and apricots, all local products and in fact you can see entire expanses of fields heading towards the hills.
Faenza was the birthplace of Raffaele Bendandi, scholar and seismology enthusiast, famous for being “the one who predicted earthquakes”. To say that his “seismological” theory, from a geological and geophysical point of view, is devoid of any evidence or objective basis, and is in clear contradiction with the scientific knowledge acquired in the seismological field.
What to see and what to do still in Faenza
Obviously in just 2 days it is not possible to visit the city completely: there is much more to see than we have been able to
- Municipal Art Gallery
- Casa Bendandi, Museum and Seismological Observatory, dedicated to the seismologist mentioned above
- Church of Santa Maria ad Nives
- Diocesan Museum
- Church of Santi Ippolito e Lorenzo
- Museum of the Risorgimento and Contemporary Age
- Church of the Commenda
- Municipal library
- Church of San Francesco
I mean, maybe I didn’t even mention everything.
And who loves nature instead?
Certainly the city lends itself very much, given the mild temperatures from the spring but also autumn, to bike rides, towards the hills, or simply walks enjoy the beautiful many public parks and take advantage of a quiet stop or let your children play:
- Bucci Park: it is definitely the green lung of the city, over 8 hectares of greenery with exotic plants and the dominant element is water with two lakes connected by a stream, islets, bridges with ducks.
- Della Rocca “Il Tondo”: for the little ones, a city playground dedicated to children.
- Tassinari Park: in the park you can still find the ancient icebox and the beautiful 24-meter long sculpture on wood that reinterprets the fairy tale of Snow White.
There are also many cycle paths that wind towards the hills, like the one that continues from Via Firenze, at the exit of the parking area to the hills.
Where to stop in Faenza in a camper
Faenza has a camper parking area in Via Guglielmo Marconi alongside the cemetery and the Centro Marconi garden. It is well signposted but in our opinion the spaces are short for long vehicles. Very close to the historic center, it can be reached on foot or even better by bicycle. Here there are no services, while paid services, you can find them at CNG in Via Granarolo, in front of Casa Spadoni.
Faenza was a surprise: in terms of the history of ceramics, cuisine, art, traditions and culture. It really has everything and then we couldn’t write everything because there is much more and 2 days are not enough. This will be an opportunity to return and it has been very pleasant to discover a part of our beautiful Italy, an important slice that every year attracts fans not only of ceramics but also of unique craft traditions. Unique because the knowledge of the historical shops can certainly be recreated elsewhere, but it will never be the same in terms of beauty and excellence, as in Faenza. Then the added value is the history of the city, the Lamone that flows behind the city and revolves around the ancient walls that still exist, together with Borgo Durbecco, one of the 5 historic districts that stage the famous Palio del Niballo.
For any information regarding visits and everything I mentioned, you can refer to the tourism office managed by Proloco.
On the other hand, what can you do around Faenza, having more time? This is another story … which we will tell you soon.