Il Po a Guastalla

What to do along the River Po by camper

In total, there are 20km of river bank on the Reggio side of the Po that offer the chance to enjoy a camper tour full of culture, history and good food. What to do along the River Po by camper? So are you ready to start your camper tour of the Po with us?

Brescello

We will start in Brescello, a small provincial town famous for the fact that the 1950s and 1960s Don Camillo and Peppone films, starring Fernandel and Gino Cervi, were recorded here. The town is full of references to these two characters known to generations of Italian children, and later adults, stars of the comic and entertaining stories by Giovannino Guareschi.

What there is to see

Brescello Don Camillo e Peppone
Brescello Don Camillo e Peppone

We suggest that you book a guided tour of the town and the Don Camillo and Peppone Museum, and the Brescello and Guareschi Museum, and the Roman Archaelogical Museum (inside the Don Camillo and Peppone Museum). It is well worth the time, as you immerse yourself in local and national history and traditions, and all at a cost of only €5. Please click here for more information.

P.S. In the central square, there is a shop that sells gadgets, perfect for souvenirs,  and at the start of January, you will only find the Don Camillo statue, as the Peppone statue is being repaired. But it will be back, and in its proper place!

Where to park your camper

Brescello has a convenient rest-area outside the city centre, not far on foot. Cross the road, and you are in the town!

What and where to eat in Brescello

  • Trattoria La Bottega at 12 via Cavallotti, a typical Emilia venue where you can enjoy traditional local fare.
  • Trattoria Don Camillo at 8 Via Argine Molino Caselle, specialises in traditional Emilia cuisine, including fresh fish, our traditional cold cuts, roast meats and pizza.

Boretto

So now we leave for Boretto, with its beautiful river port, especially at dusk with its splendid and suggestive colours. The town is divided in two by the majestic bank of the Po, and on the edge of the historic town centre, you will find the imposing basilica of San Marco Evangelista, which seems almost to protect the town from the river.

Chiesa di Boretto
Chiesa di Boretto

What to see

You should definitely visit the Po and Navigazion Museum, the Museo della Bonifica and the Casa dei Pontieri Museo Gialdini, all of which tell the history of this great river, its role in local history, and the lives of those who worked on it. We also suggest the Casa Museo Pietro Ghizzardi, to learn about the famous wandering writer and painter now considered one of the most important Italian and indeed European artists. You can see his house and learn more about his work.

Interesting facts about Boretto that maybe you did not know:

  1. It is home to the Borettana onion: it has an unmistakable flat shape and is preserved either in oil or vinegar, served alongside boiled meats or cold cuts.
  2. It is the birthplace of Marcello Nizzoli: designer, architect and finally industrial designers for the world-famous Olivetti company, which produced typewriters and calcolators. His work has won many awards both in Italy and abroad, and inside the Csac museum at Parma, you can see over 8,000 of his works, including pictures, satins, painting, prints and much more.

Where to park your camper

Boretto has a free rest-area.

What and where to eat in Boretto

  • Ristorante la Bussola, 40a Via Fratelli Cervi, for traditional local dishes.

Gualtieri

Palazzo Bentivoglio Gualtieri
Palazzo Bentivoglio Gualtieri

Next stop, we follow the bank of the Po towards Gualtieri, turning right into the town at via Roma and continuing until you reach the carpark at Piazza IV Novembre. Here you are next to the Palazzo Bentivoglio, at the Teatro Sociale. The town is a classic example of the small Renaissance towns of the Padana plain, which was developed above all thanks to the Bentivoglio family, who built the palace between the end of the 16th century and the mid-17th. They also helped to dry out and reclaim the surrounding marshlands.

The watchtower is splendid, and underneath you can still see its original wooden gates; a few feet away you can see Piazza Cavallotti, beyond the Tower, the well in Piazza Nuova and the church at Sant’Andrea, all of which are fantastic ancient works.

Torre dell'orologio Gualtieri
Torre dell’orologio Gualtieri

Inside the Palace (currently closed for refurbishment) you can see the original wooden 18th century theatre, unique for being constructed “backwards”, that is that is has three stands that face directly onto the stage. Recently restructured, once a year it hosts a concert by the maestro Bosso, as well as many plays.

Still inside the Palace square, you will see the church dedicated to Santa Maria della Neve: the Chapel of the Annunciazione has a beautiful interior, located on the first floor of the church.

Cappella della Annunciazione Santa Maria della Neve Gualtieri
Cappella della Annunciazione Santa Maria della Neve Gualtieri

Three interesting facts about Gualtieri:

  1. Uva fogarina: this is an ancient vine that was reintroduced in 2007, from which the rosato, passito and grappa are made (it is also the subject of a famous Italian song). You can find it in some traditional local restaurants.
  2. The Santa Vittoria Watermelon: recognised as IGP in 2016 by the European Union, themain feature of the IGP Reggiana watermelon is its particularly sweet flavour and vivid red colour. It is found in the town of the lower Reggiana province, and sometimes you can buy it on the road and enjoy it there and then on the simple tables laid out in front on the houses.
  3. The Ligabue Museum: we strongly advise a vist to one of the houses of “Tony”, the famous Italian artist Antonio Ligabue. You can learn about his life and works via a range of his objects, documents, reproductions of his work and some authentic paintings. You can also enjoy an audiovisual accounts of his life and work. Please click here for more information. In some local venues, you can also see ceilings painted by the Master.

Where to park your camper

Gualtieri does not have its own rest-area, but you can park your camper in Piazza IV Novembre behind the Palazzo Bentivoglio and then go on foot straight into the the square.

Where and what to eat in Gualtieri

  • Osteria della Merla, 23 via Giardino, a typical local restaurant offering classic Emilian dishes.
  • La Lumira, 3 Viale Po, specialises in cold cuts and classic local starters.

Guastalla on the River Po

Guastalla
Guastalla

 

Back to the camper, for our next stop, the river town of Guastalla. From the rest-area, you can reach the Po Lido by bike via the convenient cycle lane, or on foot in you prefer. The centre of the town includes the famous Gonzaga Palace. Under this rich and powerful family, the town enjoyed two centuries of unparalleled splendour. The cathedral has recently been rebuilt, and given back to the local people. Going around the town, we find Piazza Mazzini which houses the cathedral, and then along to via Garibaldi, which hosts not just a statue of the great man himself, but also the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Port, which features the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary. Currently it is being reconstructed, however, so you cannot visit it right now.

An interesting fact

Guastalla was the location for some scenes of the film “Novecento” directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, which featured many local people as extras. Many still remember the recording of scenes for the film in the town square, and the presence of the internationally-famous actors and actresses it starred, such as Gerard Depardieu and Donald Sutherland, as well Italian legend Stefania Sandrelli and many more. It is remembered also as a special time for many local children, as the schools were closed for a few days for the filming.

Where to park your camper

The local rest-area has all the necessary camper services, click here for more information.

What and where to eat in Guastalla

  • Old River, 2 viale Lido Po, near to the rest-area, offers traditional local dishes and pizza.
  • Ristorante Rina, 40 Via Lido Po, traditional starters and fish dishes.
  • Locanda dei Pontieri, 11-13 via Lido Po, specialises in local traditional food.

Luzzara

And so to our last stop on this tour of the right-hand bank of the Po, Luzzara, which is also the border between the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy, following the downward course of the river, and which takes as a line of demarcation (even if now all but invisible) the Zara affluent (also known as the Po Vecchio).

Luzzara is the home of Cesare Zavattini, famous Italian journalist, playwright, writer and poet, known across the world for his life-long activity in cinema, and as the driving force behind the Museo Nazionale Arti Naives (which unfortunately has had to be closed to the public as a result of the 2012 earthquake).

Zavattini
Zavattini

Instead, you can visit the Zavattini Cultural centre, opened in April 2006 by the Un Paese Foundation, and run by the local council library. Re-inagurated in May 2015 after a significant reorganisation of the spaces and displays, it is worth a visit to learn more about the life of Zavattini: please click here for more information.

In the town centre, you can see the 55-metre Torre Civica and the splendid Church of San Giorgio and the Palazzetto known as “La Macina”.

Chiesa San Giorgio Luzzara
Chiesa San Giorgio Luzzara

Near the town, at Villarotta, you can find the Truciolo Museum, housed in a splendid reconstructed 15th building at Cavo Tagliata. It is the only example in northern Italy of a museum decidated to wood-working and wood shavings, which for centuries was the principal economic activity of the town. Please click here for more information.

Chiavica sul cavo a Villarotta
Chiavica sul cavo a Villarotta

Something to discover:

The legend says that the name comes from “Luciaia”, that is the lands of the pike, the fishy waters of the Padana plain, which in fact offered a large number of these fish, which is most commonly cooked in broth. Unfortunately, now however there are ever fewer pike available, thanks to pollution and reduced pike colonies.

Luzzara is also famous for its valleys, but above all for the Po and its cycle lane, where you can enjoy an afternoon of peace and relaxation amongst the trees along the river bank.

Il Po a Luzzara
Il Po a Luzzara

The local bike lane is one of the principal cycle paths of both Emilia and Lombardy, allowing you to visit a wide range of small and larger urban centres full of history and culture, and of course home to an enviable gastronomic tradition. From Luzzara, you can easily reach the province of Parma or Mantova or Lake Garda by bike, There are also shorter journeys that you can make, to such as that from Brescello to Suzzara (via Gualtieri, Guastalla and Luzzara), the three-bridge ride (Borgoforte, Correggioverde, Luzzara and Suzzara) and the Luzzara-Secchia route(Motteggiana, Bagnolo San Vito, and San Benedetto Po).

Where to park your camper

Luzzara does not have its own camper rest-area, but you can park up in an unquipped carpark in via Alcide De Gasperi just outside the town, or in Via San Michele near the centre.

Where and what to eat at Luzzara

  • La Cantoniera, 30 Str. Villa Superiore, serves traditional dishes and fish.
  • Agriturismo Corte Giardino, 29 Via Tomba, just outside the town, specialises in fish and meat dishes and traditional starters.

Our conclusions

We hope that you have enjoyed our suggestions for a tour along the Po, we have enjoyed developing the route that takes in Reggiana towns that contribute to the history of cinema, the life of the river and those who worked the fields, and that were home to some important historical characters who have brought honour to our region. Above all, these places are home to a wide range of unique features, all different, but all created with love and passion.

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