Piacenza - Emilia-Romagna
Romans first founded Piacenza as a frontier colony and military outpost in 218 B.C., giving it the auspicious Latin name of "Placentia". Strategically placed in the south-west area of the Po valley, the town flourished so successfully over time that it became known as "the hundred churches and hundred barracks town".
An important crossroads and a central locus of the Roman roadway system, in republican and imperial times Piacenza received heavy traffic both in men and goods, becoming an important river port. For a short period, Julius Caesar himself elected the town to act as his headquarters. Though subject to a number of invasions during the Middle Ages, by the time of the 12th and 13th centuries Piacenza had recovered, and once again commercial trade and agriculture began to flourish in the city. Churches and monasteries were constructed, many with hospitals and hospices adjacent. Today, the city boasts a multitude of historic remains (even despite World War II bombardments), and may be considered an important tertiary and automation industry center.
The central square is known as Piazza dei Cavalli thanks to the two distinguishing 17th century equestrian statues that grace the square. The architectural masterpiece of the piazza is the Palazzo del Comune, also called Il Gotico. Constructed in 1280, the building is exemplary of Gothic-style and its interior contains one of Italy's spookiest crypts.
Palazzo Farnese is the place to look for museums. In this square, a visitor will find the town's Museo Civico (Civic Museum), Pinacoteca (main art gallery, containing a fresco by Botticelli), and the Museo delle Carrozze (Carriage Museum).
Through the centuries, the cuisine of Piacenza has been comprised of two completely different gastronomical traditions: first, a "peasant" or country style of cooking; and second, a more sophisticated and aristocratic culinary tradition. The country cooking has gradually become to be the better known of the two. With a variety of diverse pastas (including the square-shaped anolini and ring-shaped anellini), specialties such as "bomba di riso" (a ball of baked rice with a meat core), panzerotti (miniature stuffed pancakes), and tortellini di ricotta e spinaci (homemade pasta filled with ricotta cheese and spinach), as well as an assortment of game, poultry, and regional desserts, Piacenza offers the visitor an incredibly extensive and mouthwatering menu of delicious dishes.
Trains leave hourly from Piazza Marconi for Bologna, Milan, and Turin.