Where it is
Pontenure lies on the Via Emilia, on the right bank of the river Nure.
Why visit it
Numerous archaeological discoveries in the area prove that it was heavily populated in Roman times, while in the Middle Ages its strategic position meant it was frequently the scene of fighting and destruction.
Merchants and pilgrims also arrived in Pontenure, travelling along the Via Emilia – in times of peace the Via Emilia coincided with the Via Francigena as far as Fidenza. Pontenure keeps this memory alive as it belongs to the Associazione delle Vie Francigene.
Today Pontenure is a lively town, where modern industry and commerce flourish without the agricultural roots being forgotten. The surrounding area has been greatly altered by human endeavour, but many farms, agriturismi, and dairies offer delicious local produce.
When to go and what to see
As is true everywhere in the plain, the best seasons to visit in terms of the climate are spring and autumn, but nevertheless the area comes alive whenever there are events and fairs.
In the centre of Pontenure is the church of San Pietro, founded in antiquity, and also part of the pilgrimage tradition; today the nave is flanked by double aisles. The bell tower next to the church dates back to mediaeval times.
The Park of Villa Raggio, laid out at the end of the 19th century in the style of a romantic garden, has 750 plants and is used for various events.
On the table
Inns, restaurants and agriturismi offer the typical menus of Piacenza, which always include the PDO cured meats (salumi D.O.P.) and local cheeses, athe famous pasta dishes (tortelli filled with ricotta dressed with butter and sage, pissarei e fasö).
The delicious ricotta produced at Valconasso is well known.
The “Concorto Film Festival” has been organised here since 2002: it is an international cinema festival dedicated to short films, which has grown in importance every year, and is now a major event. Last year more than 3500 short films entered the competition, coming from all over over the world.
Festa dell’Asino – the Donkey Festival – in September.
Every year in May and October the Castle of Paderna hosts “Frutti del Castello” a fair dedicated to ancient species of plants, flower and arts and crafs.
In the surroundings
The Castle of Paderna, with its long history, is still lived in but can be visited.
The date of its foundation is unknown, but damage and destruction are documented in the 13th century. The Marazzani, who bought the castle in 1453, gave it its present appearance: a large trapezium divided into two sections – one largely agricultural and the other mostly residential – surrounded by walls on which the keep and other towers stand, and by a moat filled with water, giving the castle extra charm. During the changes and adaptations of the 15th century, the 9th-century chapel of Santa Maria became part of the manor house.
The present owners, the noble Pettorelli family, are the heirs of the Marazzani, and have restored the castle, transforming it into an ideal location for events, meetings and weddings.
Today the castle of Paderna is an organic farm, with an educational farm, an orchard, and an “ortogiardino”, or horticultural garden, where traditional old varieties and cutivars are cultivated. The owners have also decided to open the castle to visitors.
A tour of the castle gives visitorsthe chance to admire the defensive structure with the imposing square tower that dominates the whole fortress, and the beautiful “torre nell’Acqua” or Water Tower, the courtyards, the organic farm, the ancient church of Santa Maria, the peasant museum and the moat.
The castle of Paderna belongs to the circuit of the Castelli del Ducato di Parma, Piacenza e Pontremoli.
At Muradello – just under 4 km from Pontenure – the 15th-century castle can be admired from the outside; it has been restored and is privately owned. Nearby is the church of San Colombano.
Near Valconasso is La Bellotta, a complex including a neoclassical villa and other buildings, which is today a pastoral and holiday centre run by the Diocese of Piacenza – Bobbio.