Il tramonto del Po a Mezzani

In camper along the Po from Piacenza to Parma

What can you see by camper along the Po from Piacenza to Parma?

Compared to our sugggestions for the Reggiano side of the river (click here), this is a much longer route that we offer today.

But it is equally rich in detail and beauty. Ready?

Castelvetro Piacentino

Taking the convenient motorway exit, we begin our trip through the Piancentine countryside towards Parma by taking the SP10.

Castelvetro is a town that borders Cremona, but in fact it is not possible to identify precisely where the ancient court of the town lay, and it changed hands many times, before finally falling under the control of the Ducchess of Parma and Piacenza, Maria Luigia of Austria.

One of the most important local products is the scalogno, a small red onion that gives its name to the principal annual fair in the town, held towards the end of August (we will keep you updated on this).

Where to park your camper

There is no dedicated rest-area, but you can park in via Nenni or at the sports centre in via Dante Alighieri. The closest rest area is at Monticelli d’Ongina.

What and where to eat in Castelvetro Piacentino

  • Trattoria il Chitantolo, 10 via Statale 10, offering fish and local traditional dishes
  • Trattoria della Pace, 87 via Bernini, offering traditional Piacentine fare.

Villanova sull’Arda

Now we cross the Arda river, towards Villanova, a town known principally for two reasons:

  • its production of delicious cherries
  • the house (in Sant’Agata) where Giuseppe Verdi settled in spring 1851, together with his  partner and later second wife Giuseppina Strepponi.

You can find these magnificent cherries in many local shops but they are often also sold on the side of the road. They are succulent, beautifully red and sweet, and they are a delightful addition to your snacks or meals while travelling.

And if you find yourself at Villanova, you can visit the house of Giuseppe Verdi. This is a very special place, you can see his private house, his personal objects, his conducting gloves and his famous top hat, everything you need to know to get to know the world-famous Maestro.

Two interesting points:

The Park at Isola Giarola

The Park at Isola Giarola

Firstly: if the weather allows, you can take your bike around the Park of the Isola Giarola not far from Verdi’s house.

You can find the Isola Giarola next to the river, which has shaped the setting over the years. Where today you can see the fields and peaceful waters of the lake, there was once the river itself. The lake is in fact man-made, the result of excavation activity that only stopped in 1995.

Since then, many improvements have been made to the area, as a result of which the banks of the lake have regained all the natural flora and fauna of the zones near to the river.

From here, you can then try one of many different cycle paths until you reach the majestic banks of the river itself, and follow its course.

Secondly: did you know that Villanova has a hospital  that owes its construction to the financial assistance of Giuseppe Verdi? Yes, it does, those who know Verdi know aside from his love of music, he was equally always concerned with those less fortunate than him: he himself came from a humble background, which he did not forget, and the result of his efforts in the hospital.

It was devoted to the care of the poor people of the town, and Verdi and Strepponi personally helped with the  furnishings of the hospital and the healthcare equipment. Today, there is an first-rate rehabilitation facility next door to the historic hospital, considered one of the best in Italy.

Where to park your camper

To visit Villa Verdi, or the Park, you can park in the convenient carpark a few metres before Verdi’s house.

Where and what to eat in Villanova sull’Arda

  • Trattoria la Verdiana, 18 via Verdi in Sant’Agata for traditional local food.
  • Le Verdi Cantine, 3 via Verdi in Sant’Agata for cold cuts and other local traditional dishes

Polesine Parmense

Polesine Parmense

Polesine Parmense

We leave the Arda behind us, and enter into the province of Parma, at Polesine Parmense, home to a very well-known local meat, the culatello.

We start at the Museum located in the Antica Corte Pallavicino and which is part of the Food Museum network.

You can park in the adjacent carpark and take a guided tour inside, and immerse yourself in the flavours and aromas of days gone by (see here for a detailed account).

Continuing on foot, you can enjoy a walk along the Po, which we promise has a truly unique silence and splendid panoramas.

Where to park you camper

There is an unequipped carpark in Antica Corte Pallavicina.

Where and what to eat in Polesine Parmense

  • Antica Corte Pallavicino, inside the Museum
  • La vecchia baracca, 8 via argine Maestro , for traditional fare
  • Al Cavallino Bianco, 3 via Sbrisi, for local main dishes

Zibello

Another town on the Po, Zibello is the world-famous home of culatello. You should visit the Palazzo Pallavicino, and the Theatre inside, the Museum of Cinematography and the Museum of Country Life inside the Domenican convent. You cna find more information on the website of the Ducal Castles.

Note the date: each year, the end of June sees the annual Culatello festival in celebration of this delicious cold cut, that takes place in the town square.

Where to park your camper

You can park your camper in Via Caduti di Nassiria.

Where and what to eat in Zibello

  • Locanda Leon d’Oro in Piazza Garibaldi, specialities of the house include cold cuts and “torta fritta”.
  • Trattoria La Buca in via Ghizzi, for local specialities.

Roccabianca

Castle of Roccabianca

Castle of Roccabianca

And now onto to another Po town, Roccabianca, famous for its castle which was home to Bianca Pellegrini (lover of Pier Maria II de’ Rossi, who had the Rock built and dedicated to her).

The Rock is well worth a visit, its interior contains a maze of  staircases and afrescoed rooms tthat tell the story of the lovel between Pier Maria and the Milanese beauty Bianca.

It is the castle of liquors, of acquaviti, of balsamic vinegar, and you can find the Distillery Museum in its ancient cellars and see the culatello seasoning rooms. For more information on visiting the castle, please visit the website of the Ducal Castles.

A point of interest: have you ever heard of November Pork? It is a range of events held in the towns listed here that are dedicated to pigs and pig-meat (we will update on this as we go).

Where to park your camper

A short distance from the town centre is the lake of San Cipriano, una beautiful oasis of tranquility where you can park and have dinner. But please book in advance. The nearest discharge point for your camper is at Soragna, about 15 km away.

Where and what to eat in Roccabianca

  • Hostaria da Ivan, 24 Stradella della Villa, for classic local dishes.

Torricella

Now we cross the river Taro and approach the Po in this small part of the town of Sissa to reach its little port. In the 17th century it was well-known as a point of commerce with Venitian merchants who would bring coal in exchange for bricks baked in the furnaces at Gramignazzo.

Today the port is important mainly for tourists, serving as a base for small powerboats that traverse the mighty river. You can ride all along the river bank down to our next destination.

Where to park your camper

You can park your camper in the port carpark.

Where and what to eat in Torricella

  • Ristorante pizzeria Tornando, 65 franz Torricella: specialises in fish and traditional Parma cooking
  • Lo Storione, in Torricella, for traditional local fare and fish dishes.

Colorno

Reggia di Colorno

La Reggia di Colorno

Taking the SP33 and leaving the Taro river behind us, now we head for Colorno.

A small town famous for its magnificent Ducal Reggia, the summer residence of Maria Luigia. Its gardens and recently-refurbished salons are reminescent of Versailles.

You should definitely choose a guided tour of the Reggia, which includes the Church at San Liborio and the Astronomic Observatory.

Another place not to miss is the Ethnographic Museum (also known as MUPAC), that details the ethnography of humans and our culture.

There is also the Museum of Paths (both on land and on the river) that you can find on the first floor. For more information, please see the relevant section on the website of the Ducal Castles.

Where to park your camper

There is an unequipped carpark in via Farnese, next to the walls of the Reggia di Colorno. Your nearest discharge point is San Polo di Torrile.

An interesting fact:

You should definitely try the local Tortél Dóls, a local dish that is the star of an annual event in Colorno: tasty and succulent, it is filled with local fruits of yesterday that are only found in this area.

Not far from the town, you can easily reach Sacca by bike, and so the banks of the Po.

Where and what to eat in Colorno

  • Ristorante da Sergio, 21 via Mazzini, specialising in traditional Parmesan cuisine
  • Trattoria Arcari, 6-8 via Belloni for traditional local dishes
  • Ristorante Pizzeria Vecchio Mulino, 19 piazzale Vittorio Veneto, for pizza and local specialities.
  • Ristorante Al Vedel in Via Vedole just outside the town centre, easily reached by camper. Serves traditional dishes.

Mezzani

Camper at the Port at Mezzani

Camper at the Port at Mezzani

And now for our last stop, Mezzani, before we cross the border into the Reggiano side of the Po. Enjoy the fresh air and silence under the poplar trees that surrounds you as the river flows past.

Where to park your camper

You can park under the poplar trees. Your nearest discharge point is at Sorbolo.

Where and what to eat in Mezzani

  • Agriturismo Rosa Antica, 23 via Giuseppe Garibaldi, before you reach the port. Booking essential. Serves class Parmesan fare.

Our thoughts:

You can say so much about the magnificent Po: in winter, it can be very scary as the water levels rise, creating serious problems for people and businesses nearby. But in spring and summer, it is perfect for a day-out by bike or on foot, and it is especially beautiful towards dusk.

The autumn sunset offers colours that you will not see anywhere else.

But the choice of season is yours, this is simply our suggestions for a sequence of places to visit to visit by camper along the Po, which we consider definitely worth the trouble.

Monica

 

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