Following the road is like being at home, getting to the fortresses and manors of Destinazione Turistica Emilia, the area between Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia.
When the wheels were made of wood and the engine was still an invention belonging to the future, almost to be seen like a sorcery, the best way to move between one castle and another was, without any doubt, horse-riding.
Today, for those who venture into the discover of the Castles of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, with deviations towards Reggio Emilia manor houses, the solution that allows you to preserve the same sense of freedom, without sacrificing the comfort reached over the centuries, is called camper.
Taking advantage of the rest area in the Piazzetta della Resistenza in Monticelli d'Ongina (PC), head straight for the Castle of San Pietro in Cerro (PC), a fifteenth-century manor on the border of the provinces of Parma and Cremona, which - in addition to 30 richly furnished halls - also boasts a dynamic and contemporary art collection: MIM Museum in Motion. It houses five hundred unique pieces in the Museum of Arms and a permanent art installation: 40 copies of the terracotta warriors of the Xi'an Army.
When the pangs of hunger begin to be felt, the right stop is the Antica Corte Pallavicina of Polesine Parmense (PR), the “gastrofluvial kingdom” of the brothers Luciano and Massimo Spigaroli, who wanted to preserve the rural spirit of the building, turning it, at the same time, into a flag of the Emilian cuisine, where the symbol is the cured meat called Culatello. A museum is even dedicated to the king of cured meats - which here matures in the venerable cellars.
Three parking areas and an authorized parking in Busseto (PR), are located on the road to Rocca Meli Lupi of Soragna (PR), a luxurious residence that preserves fresco decorations and pictorial cycles of great value, and also an odd and disturbing mystery: it seems, actually, that the ghost of Donna Cenerina (Cassandra Marinoni) appeared in the house. The woman was barbarously stabbed to death by Count Guido Anguissola.
Art lovers cannot miss the opportunity to knock on the drawbridge of the Rocca Sanvitale in Fontanellato (PR), famous for hosting the hall with the myth of Diana and Actaeon, painted in 1524 by Parmigianino. Among its premises, the castle also boasts the little theater of Maria Luigia of Austria's grandchildren, and an extraordinary optical chamber that reflects the external square through a system of mirrors.
It's about time to rest. Vagabond Camper, in Fontanellato, is a convenient, guarded and equipped chargeable area, with 110 pitches, electricity, cockpit drainage and toilets.
When the sun rises, you can decide to leave, caming back to the province of Piacenza, with the Parco dello Stirone and Piacenziano to act as an extraordinary green frame or as a sort of bridge to Vigoleno (PC), where the area parking for campers called “Rio delle Noci car park”, free and equipped with services, can be an opportunity to get into the crenellated walls and the panoramic walkway of the village, dominated by the keep (mastio) and the castle that, between 1921 and 1935, the Duchess Maria Ruspoli de Gramont transformed into an extraordinary cultural salon, also frequented by Gabriele D'Annunzio and Max Ernst.
A visitor can drive westwards again: Castell'Arquato (PC) suggests a stop to admire the Rocca Viscontea - a film location and one of the 100 most beautiful villages in Italy. Then you can head towards the Castle of Gropparello (PC), destination for families who want to offer children the unique experience of the Fairy Tail Park, the first emotional park on Italy, where the Middle Age is staged every day.
Moving further westwards, the Malaspina Dal Verme Castle in Bobbio (PC) worths a visit.
It is a fortified structure that has gradually softened its lines to become an elegant residence, which welcomes visitors with its Sala delle Marine, a ballroom with large fireplace and seventeenth-century paintings on its walls, the Sala del Tavolo Ottagono (octagonal shape table), the Salotto Liberty and bedroom with Empire-style furniture. Driving towords Piacenza, where the rest area of Via Sant'Ambrogio 22 is strategically positioned just near the beatuful complex of Palazzo Farnese - including the ducal palace and the Visconti citadel and seat of the Civic Museums and the Archive of State - the road is actually marked.
After a visit to the Castle of Torrechiara (PR) - a stunning outpost of feelings and the passionate love between Pier Maria Rossi and Bianca Pellegrini, and also a set of the movie "Ladyhawke" - you can decide to cross the border and enter the province of Reggio Emilia, maybe after visiting the rest area of the Provincial Park Monte Fuso di Scurano (PR).
Historical residence, designed as a defensive outpost of the Canossa family, the Bianello Castle (RE) preserves all the splendor and medieval grandeur that welcomed two emperors, guests of Countess Matilde, still venerated nowadays for her charm and charisma that last over the centuries. She actually inspires the “great end” of this open air tour, which cannot but include the ruins of the Canossa Castle (RE) - location of the legendary humiliation of Henry IV in front of Pope Gregory VII - the structure almost unchanged from the Castello di Rossena (RE) - with its Weapon-Room and the Rossenella Tower - and what remains of the Castle of Carpineti (RE), which offers an amazing view from the top of the keep (mastio).
An area for campers in Vico di Canossa, at the foot of the castle, and another in the village of Carpineti, both setted along the Via Matildica “Holy Face” route, are particularly appreciated by campers, looking for a place to take a break and relax.