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Discovering Castles

Here is a three day trip for getting to know the beauties, historical treasures and the food and wine of the Piacenza valleys.  Don’t forget to bring home one of the numerous types of DOC wines such as Ortrugo or Gutturnio, typical salamis (Coppa, Salami and Pancetta are all very famous), Grana Padano cheese or Provolone.  Start from Val Tidone, the western most valley of Piacenza: it is wide and surrounded by low hills, sunny and sheltered from the wind.

 

Horse trails - Romagna Ferrara Bologna - Water ways

 

From Caminata to Piozzano: 30 km (approx. 6 hours)

 

This route is not too difficult given that it is set in low hills.  From the municipal of Caminata, you take the bridle path for the d’Olgisio Fortress.  The fortress (564m) dates back to 1037.  Today, thanks to the current owners, it has regained its old splendor: with an irregular floor plan, it includes various types of walls.  The outer walls and the turret are colossal in their thickness.  Outside you can visit the grottos.  Each one has a legend: the Cypress grottos and the Saints’ grottos (it is said that the sisters Saints Liberata and Faustina lived here), that of the Recruits, a hiding place for the those seeking to dodge Napoleon’s drafts.

 

From Piazzano to Grilli: 25 km (approx. 6 hours)

 

This route is not excessively difficult.  It starts out at Torre Rizzi and goes up to the mighty castle of Rezzanello, with its circular towers.  This manor, cited for the first time in a document n 1001, is in a beautiful scenic position in the middle of a splendid park.  The creation of the main living quarters dates back to the 17th century.  Then it’s on to Val Trebbia, crossing the river of the same name.  The strategic importance of this valley since the Middle Ages can be seen in the numerous manors found here, many of which are still perfectly preserved.  Such as the one in Montechiaro (12th century) that can be seen along the way.  The next valley, the Val Nure, is full of beech trees, chestnut trees and oaks: it is the ideal habitat for foxes, wild boars, rodents and squirrels.  In the sky, falcons, crows and buzzards fly.  Also this was a strategic valley, full of castles and guard towers.  After having ridden along the upper Val Nure, you follow the path and passing through the Spettine valley, you arrive in Grilli.  In the valley, the castle of the same name is visible, a fortress that controlled the streets connecting the Nure valleys with the Trebbia valley.  The original complex dates back to the 1300s.  It is surrounded by other buildings from the 1500s and 1600s.  On the ground floor of one of these buildings is a large room which was probably a courtroom.

 

From Grilli to Gropparello: 18 km (approx. 3 hours)

 

From Dodici you reach Passo Pia then continuing on down towards the Nure.   In Missano you can see the castle (really a tower house that was once a fortress) and the tower of Ebbio, a mighty square tower, the sides of which house some windows of various dimensions.  From here you continue on towards Gropparello with its beautiful castle (here there is the first “emotive park” in Italy with fairy tales played out in costumes).  It is a typical example of a hillside manor, on a rocky outcropping, and its irregular floor plan follows its natural borders.  There is a field in which you can leave your horse and have a picnic.

 

Places to stop

Food Bed Stable Horseshoe
1 - Molino dei Fondi - Caminata    PC  
C.I. Molino dei Fondi

tel. 0523.990607 - fax 0523.990607

Horseshoe Stable
2 - Piozzano    PC  
C.I. Azienda Agrituristica "La Bosana"
via Canova,12
tel. 0523.970415
email
Food Bed Stable Horseshoe
3 - Grilli di Spettine - Bettola    PC  
La Corte di I Grilli
tel. 0523.490337
scuderizzazione al coperto in box o poste Horseshoe
Last modified Feb 21, 2011

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