Piacenza is situated in a strategic location of the Po Valley; this peculiar characteristic has been recognised since its Roman foundation, and the passage and settlement of ancient populations is still evident in the name of some villages of the area: Zerba probably comes from the Carthaginian culture and it sounds similar to Djerba.
Witness of this such long story are archaeological sites like the one of Veleia, where Termae, Roman forum and houses were brought to light in the 18th century, and other many finds like the Etruscan Liver, now included in the exhibition at the Archaeological Museum of Piacenza.
First stop – Pianello val Tidone
The old fortress now house of the Municipality of Pianello hosts the Archaeological Museum of Val Tidone.
Inside the long history of this area is told by a series of finds found during the excavations in this area.
Second Stop – Travo
Once reached the town of Travo, following SS n. 40, along the river you’ll find the Archaeological Park known as Villaggio Neolitico di Sant’Andrea.
It’s one of the most important Neolithic settlement in northern Italy. In this park there’s a net of well preserved buildings, which came to light during the excavations started in 1995.
As they are in the open air, the park is closed during the winter season (1st november – 31st march), but in the town the Archaeological Museum is always open during the weekends. It’s located in the Castle, a fortress built in the Middle Ages by the family Malaspina and then restaured by the family Anguissola.
Inside there are come finds coming from Villaggio Sant’Andrea and some probably belonging to the Roman Temple of Minerva Medica, which precise location is still a mistery.
Before the visit we suggest to check the events calendar, they often offer labs for kids.
Third Stop – Veleia
To reach the site, take the road to Carpaneto Piacentino, following the directions you’ll reach the soft hills, where Veleia is located.
Just on the back of the church you’ll find the entrance of the site, on the left there are the remains of the thermal area: calidarium, tepidarium and frigidarium, while on the right side there are traces of houses. In the lower part the area of the forum is easily recognizable.
The Borbone family, promoter of the excavation, took many remains to Parma, where they still are on exhibition, at the Archaeological Museum in the Pilotta. Not to be missed the Tabula Alimentaria Traianea and the statues of the forum.
In Veleia some original pieces and some copies of the remains (i.e. Tabula Alimentaria) are on display at the Antiquarium, where there’s also a special itinerary for blind people, to explain the story of this place where Ligure and Roman culture contaminated each other.
Fourth Stop – Piacenza
About 1 hour and you’ll be in Piacenza, the starting point for the latest stop of this trip.
In the city the first attraction is the Auditorium of the Foundation Piacenza and Vigevano, in the former church of Santa Margherita and Liberata. This building includes 2000 years of history.
Under the auditorium there’s an Antiquarium, the first remains you’ll meet belong a religious building of the Middle Ages, then there are three tombs and finds of Roman epoch.
Peculiar is the use of amphoras, which were found overturned in the earth. This particular position was useful to avoid humidity, the water of the city rivers was actually blocked by the empty amphoras.
In the same morning it is possible to visit the archaeological Museum of Palazzo Farnese, siege of the Civic Museums. It’s interactive, there’s a large spectacular room with many different Roman floors; the staging, organised by themes, reconstructs different moments of Roman life without forgetting death.
The unique piece, not to be missed is the Etruscan Liver. A small object made of bronze, which represents a sheep liver and it was probably used by “aruspici” to learn how to interpret the fate after a sacrifice.