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Discovering the historical trails in Emilia

72 hours
Best Period
May, September

For centuries, the Via Francigena has criss-crossed Europe, connecting people and cultures from Canterbury in the United Kingdom to Santa Maria di Leuca in Apulia, via Rome. Walking it in its entirety is a task that would put even the most experienced walkers to the test, which is why more and more people, year after year, decide to walk some of the more evocative stretches such as the one that crosses the provinces of Piacenza and Parma.

We recommend an unforgettable 3-day itinerary - The Historical Paths of Emilia - The Via Francigena, from Piacenza to the Cisa Pass - in which you will cover 100 kilometres in 5 stages between Piacenza, the Abbey of Chiaravalle, the Castle of Paderna, Fidenza and Fornovo di Taro until you reach the Cisa Pass, the famous pass separating the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines from the Ligurian Apennines.

Backpack on your shoulders, the ever-present water bottle to fill along the route and your smartphone at hand to immortalise the places you encounter along this stretch of the Via Francigena, declared a Council of Europe Cultural Route in 1994. Whether alone or in company, no matter what, prepare to experience a journey that will remain in your heart forever.

The Historical Paths of Emilia - Piacenza

We arrive in Piacenza from the point where the Via Francigena leaves Lombardy and crosses the border into Emilia-Romagna. The Guado di Sigerico is the only river crossing of the entire Via Francigena from the UK to Rome and can be negotiated thanks to the municipality's river taxi service for transporting pilgrims, which is available by telephone reservation from 4 to 5 pm every day. 

There is an almost 3 hour walk to Piacenza, following provincial roads and crossing the Trebbia river, which skirts part of the city. Stroll through the city between Piazzale delle Crociate and Piazza dei Cavalli with its two imposing bronze equestrian statues dating back to 1620.

The Historical Paths of Emilia - Castle of Paderna and Chiaravalle della Colomba Abbey

Leave the city centre by taking the Via Emilia to Pontenure and continue south, leaving the main road behind in the direction of Paderna Castle, a fortification of medieval origin that seems to have stopped a few centuries ago.

After a visit to the castle, either from the outside or by taking advantage of guided tours on summer weekends, you will have to drive 20 kilometres in the direction of Fiorenzuola d'Arda. On the outskirts of the town centre stands the Cistercian Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba, world-famous for its traditional Corpus Christi Infiorata held every year between May and June.

Depending on the availability of the facility, you can book a stay inside the Abbey so you can spend the night in this place steeped in history before setting off again the next day.

The Historical Paths of Emilia - Fidenza

Fidenza is waiting for you 13 kilometres from the Abbey, heading south along State Road 9. You will arrive in this delightful city of art from the north and can explore it in a few hours. 

Within walking distance of each other you will admire Fidenza Cathedral, a masterpiece of Romanesque-Paduan architecture and symbol of the city, the Church of San Michele and the Luigi Musini Risorgimento Museum. We also suggest a visit to the Magnani Theatre, one of the places in Terre Verdiane.

The Historical Paths of Emilia - Fornovo di Taro

Again we set off in a southerly direction. The destination of this fourth stage is Fornovo di Taro, about 30 kilometres away. There are some interesting stops along the way, such as Cabriolo where you can visit the beautiful Romanesque church Pieve di Cabriolo, dedicated to St Thomas Becket, the Rocca di Noceto and the small village of Felegara.

At this point you have to cross the Taro river to find yourself in Fornovo, at the beginning of the large Taro regional river park that extends northwards to the gates of Parma. Stop to discover the 8th century Romanesque parish church of Santa Maria Assunta and find accommodation for the night. 

The Historical Paths of Emilia - Cisa Pass

Today you will cover a distance of 35 kilometres to reach the Cisa Pass. The first stop from Fornovo di Taro is the small village of Respiccio, where you can still see the remains of the ancient xenodochio (an ancient temple) that hosted pilgrims and foreigners during the Middle Ages. 

The climb to today's destination begins. First, continuing along the Via Francigena, you will come across Bardone with its Romanesque parish church of Terenzo and, shortly afterwards, the small village of Cassio, an excellent spot for refreshments.
Nearly there, one last push and you will arrive in Berceto following the Strada Statale della Cisa. 

Berceto lies at an altitude of 852 metres and is dominated by the Cathedral of San Moderanno, which houses the saint's relics, and the remains of the ancient castle. We suggest you try one of the many dishes based on the Fungo Porcino IGP before setting off again towards the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Guardia, 8 kilometres away. This is the last point of the Via Francigena in Emilia-Romagna.

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