Along the Strada Provinciale 654 di Val Nure provincial road, between the Nure and Riglio valleys, lies an area of hills culminating in the Monte Santo at 677 metres above sea level.
In the past this was an important commercial trading post between the Po valley and Liguria. Caravans of merchants arrived from both directions, selling or exchanging their goods, grain from the plain and olives from Liguria (the name calls to mind the warehouses where the oil was stored), and then returned home. In this area there were presses for oil and mills for flour. From this point a variety of products (grain, flour, olives, oil, honey, cheese) were transported in opposite directions, towards the plain or towards the coast.
Today the town’s economy is based on stock-farming, agriculture and tourism. It is well known for the places for curing meat and the wineries of the district. This area is part of the wine road, the Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori dei Colli Piacentini.
Every season is a good time to visit Ponte dell’Olio, although obviously the period between spring and autumn has the best weather. Then it is pleasant to walk through the splendid countryside, immersed in the peace of the forests or the hills covered in vines. These are also the months when most sporting events and festivals take place.
To visit: the neigh of the Borgo or Borough, with its porticos and old houses, San Rocco, Villa San Bono (exterior).
The church of S. Giacomo with the Sangalli organ of 1860, one of the finest of the Nure valley.
The three tower kiln, a reminder of the tradition of brick production, developed in the first phase of industrialization.
Salumi D.O.P. Piacentini the PDO cured meats of Piacenza. Ponte dell’Olio is particularly famous for Pancetta, but the cooked salame, the Salame Cotto, is also greatly sought after, and is traditionally eaten at Ferragosto, the holiday time in the middle of August, and also Cotechino. And then meat, game, mushroms, local cheeses, honey, organic produce. For the first course, the lion’s share is taken by the traditional tortelli, but other excellent dishes include baked panzerotti al forno, pisarei e fasö, anolini, ravioli served with a variety of sauces.
Nor should the famous wines of the local cellars, red and white, be forgotten.
Bicycle trails and footpaths connect Ponte dell’Olio with Vigolzone, Podenzano, San Giorgio and Carpaneto (Nature Itineraries) and numerous paths can easily be followed on foot up into the side valleys.
“In mountain bike nel Comune di Ponte dell’Olio”, enthusiastic cyclists will appreciate these three routes with maps and GPS positions, which can be downloaded.
What is more, it is in the territory of Ponte dell’Olio that what is today “the largest organised area for outdoor sports” starts, with more than 560 km of paths (suited for walking, horse-riding or mountain biking) crossing the districts of Ponte dell’Olio, Bettola, Farini and Ferriere.
The Fiera della Pancetta Piacentina D.O.P. in May.
The Fair of San Rocco: 15 and 16 August.
I Sapori del Borgo (in November), a food and agriculture fair, with stalls selling local and other produce.
In summer and autumn, the hills around Ponte dell’Olio come alive with feste and sagre to enjoy especially in the evening, with traditional music, dancing and good food.
Numerous castles, sometimes much changed and visibile only from the outside, and ancient villages, almost all of Roman foundation, are scattered across the district of Ponte dell’Olio.
The best known are the mediaeval village of Riva with its castle, Torrano, Zaffignano, Cassano, the castle of Folignano, now an agriturismo, Montesanto, a celebrated panoramic point, and Castione.