Lying on the hills of the Arda Valley, which were covered by the sea in prehistoric times, and where many fossils can still be found, Castell’Arquato is located near Piacenza
This well preserved medieval borough can fascinate everybody who explore it going around its alleys and medieval stone houses, wonderfully preserved and in some cases restored.
Previously chosen as the location for some films (e.g.‘Lady Hawk’), it has recently joined ‘Italy’s most beautiful boroughs’. It has also been awarded the title of ‘Wine Town’.
Visitors will be amazed by its majestic monumental centre, with the municipal square, located in the upper part of the village and surrounded by ‘Rocca Viscontea’, an imposing fortress protecting the borough, Santa Maria Assunta Church, a remarkable Romanesque complex with Gothic and Renaissance elements, and the Podesta Palace. The small Church Museum is rich in sacred art jewels which date back to a period ranging from the 13th to the 14th century.
Located in the former 16th century ‘S. Spirito Hospital, Cortesi Geological Museum has a permanent display of fossils found in the surrounding areas; among these the most important ones belong to a whale, whose wooden reconstruction is displayed. The exhibition follows an educational tour going through all the stages of the history of the Earth.
Finally, Illica Museum is dedicated to the famous dramatist and author of librettos from Castell’Arquato, who wrote La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly for the Maestro Puccini and Isabeau, Iris, and Le Maschere for the Maestro Mascagni. The museum displays scores, ancient editions of librettos, costumes, sculptures, and photos portraying Illica with the great composers he worked with during his intense and adventurous life.
Visitors may enjoy a suggestive stay in Luigi Illica’s native house, from which it is possible to admire the rooftops which inspired the poet for Puccini’s Bohème. In the past, famous guests (Gabriele d’Annunzio, Giosuè Carducci and Giacomo Puccini) stayed in this liberty style historic residence. The restoration of the building was completed in 2008, under the supervision of the Board for fine arts. Today Casa Illica
rents holiday apartments.
You can’t leave Castell’Arquato without stopping by the Municipal Winery, located in the renovated halls of the Podesta Palace. Here you’ll be able to taste typical products in a polished and cosy atmosphere or to buy local wines made from the vineyards of the surrounding hills.
Besides traditional delicacies, in the area of Castell’Arquato, you may taste the traditional ‘anolini’, the ‘Vin Santo’, produced in Vigoleno, is like nectar which can’t be anything but appreciated even by gourmets.
These days Castell’Arquato dresses up for a party destined to leave a mark: the “Carnevale alla Veneziana”. On the 25th February 2012 (from 11 to midnight) the whole Medieval borough will be transformed in a carousel of events: masked afternoon breaks and happy hours, theme dinners, special guided tours and, as main event, the wonderful masked ball in Piazza Municipio.
Events are open to everybody who is masked. If possible, dress up according to the Venetian style. Costumes and cloaks can be rented on site.
From 11.00 a.m. – aperitifs and appetizers in Carnival costume in bar/cafes. Special guided tour starts from Tourist Office
From 2.00 p.m. – hot chocolate in Carnival costume in bar/cafes. Special guided tour starts from Tourist Office
From 6.00 p.m. – aperitifs and appetizers in Carnival costume in bar/cafes
From 8.00 p.m. – dinners in Carnival costumes in restaurants
From 10.30 p.m – Masks parade and Great Podestà Ball in Municipal Square
Midnight – Podestà Palace, most beautiful mask awards