This page gives a brief outline of where to go, what to do and see, from sight-seeing tours in the wealth of spectacular local castles and fortified towns, just simply strolling round the picturesque towns, visit the many informative museums, sample the excellent local produce in the informal and friendly restaurants. For a really special treat why not spend the day being pampered at one of the near by Thermal Spas.
Bedonia – 12 k (7 miles)
A lively town centre with many friendly bars, shops, good restaurants and delicious home-made ice-cream parlours.
Outdoor swimming pool and places to swim in the river Taro. Market day Saturday
Borgo Val Di Taro – 26 k (16 miles)
In the city centre grand renaissance buildings grace the busy streets, complete with bars, shops and restaurants.
Outdoor swimming pool.
A few kilometres from Borgotaro is the Ghirardi WWF Oasis an excellent place to see diverse flora and fauna.
Market day Monday. There is a train station is and buses to Parma in town.
Bardi – 20 k (12 miles)
The Castle, built during the 9th – 14th centuries on top of red jasper, is in a good state of conservation. It has frescoes in the reception room and a wealth of other rooms and quarters to explore. You can also visit the military defenses, complete with communication trenches, prisons and torture chambers. The castle also houses the “Country Culture Museum” and the Illegal Poaching Museum.
Bardi town still retains features from the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
Market day Thursday.
Compiano – 16 k (9 miles)
Compiano is a fine example of a medieval walled village dominated by the beautiful trapeizal shaped castle above. It is surrounded by fortified defensive walls with three entrance gates. The town is cited as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.
The courtyard of the Castle at Vigoleno Piacenza. For full information on the spectacular castles in the area please look at the link below.
LOCAL SPORTING ACTIVITIES:
For information guided group walks, with English speaking guides, in the Ceno and Taro Valleys please take a look below.
An annual rally where cars helter-skelter, on time trials, though the narrow mountain roads especially closed for the event.Partake or sit at the end of our road and watch them hurtle past. To join the rally click on the link below.
Trail ride, at any time of the year, in groups or alone, have exhilarating rides along the wooded paths in the mountains. Bikes and a guide are available, please contact Suzanne for details. Or for further insights take a look at the below link.
Mountain bike riding – the mountains tracks and paths are your oyster with tracks and byways marked by local enthusiasts. There are tour operators in the area where you can hire the bike and guide on a daily basis.
Rent a classic bicycle or an E-Bike. It is also possible to book a guide excursion with a GAE guide (subject to availability)
Trout Fishing; many beautiful, peaceful spots to choose from some in walking distance.
Excellent walking: take to the woods and simply explore or follow one of the many marked tracks in the area.
Swimming either at the local outdoor pools or for those brave enough in the Ceno river a short walk away.
Skiing and excellent hiking at San. Stefano D’Aveto now equipped with its restored chair lift, a breath taking ride with stunning views. There is also a pretty little castle in the main square where you can sit under the colonnade with your coffee and take in the view.
Il Parco dei Cento Laghi, now part of the Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco-Emiliano (The Toscan-Emlian Apennine National Park) has excellent skiing and walking and offers many guided walking and skiing tours in the park.
And after all that activity how about a healthy, relaxing day at one of the nearby thermal spas at San. Andrea Bagni or Salsomaggiore, considered by some to be the most beautiful spa town in the world.
The Italian Riviera offers many divers pastimes, too numerous to go in to in any detail, so below is just a brief outline of what is on offer.
Sestri Levanti: delightful narrow streets leading to sandy beaches, boat trips along the coast and Portofino, maybe even catch a glimpse of a whale, museums and excellent sea food restaurants and boutique shops
Santa Margherita: an ideal place to stroll along a majestic seafront or wander around an abbey. Then take a turn in the Italian and English gardens of a villa built around 1560, controversially attributed to Galeazzo Alessi. The villa houses a host of sculptures, tapestries, stuccowork and “chinoiserie”, whilst the gallery boasts works by Domenico Piola and De Ferrari.
Chiavari: has sandy beaches, boat trips across the bay to Portofino, good variety of shops set under mediaeval arches and colonnades, an antiques market every 2nd weekend of the month, a botanical gardens with grottoes, ponds and bridges, a cathedral and a few museums. There is a main line train station with a beautiful route along the coast to La Spezia, Genova and beyond.
Rapallo: – busy sea-side resort; has a 7 minute, 2349 metres in length and 600 metres high, cable car ride to the white marbled Santuario di Montallegro, from there take in the stunning views across the bay, or follow one of the many way marked paths inland. For the less adventurous visit one of the museums or seafront castle.
Exclusive Portofino. Stunning Monte di Portofino is a 600 metre high headland stretching out in to the sea for more than three kilometres. Here the mixed trees of central European origin meet the lush green Mediterranean vegetation. This remarkable wealth of natural beauty continues underwater with a myriad of marine micro-environments. The San Fruttuoso Abbey is recommended to visitors and can be reached by boat or on foot.
Genova: a wide variety of everything from shopping, museums, palaces, cathedrals, exhibitions, theatres, parks and gardens, lighthouses and not forgetting Europe’s largest aquarium.
Cinque Terre: an area of outstanding beauty and renowned for its excellent walking along rugged coastal paths. Some of the best white wine in Italy is said to be made here too.
Slightly further afield towards Piacenza lie the lovely little towns of Bobbio, the perfect place to head for if you just want a beautiful drive, a mooch and an ice-cream. It is said the bridge is represented in the portrait of the Mona Lisa.
Or an alternative drive with a picturesque destination could be Borgo Medivale Di Vigoleno. For real history buffs look out for the archeological park near Travo with its Neolithic Village or the Roman Ruins of Veleia.
DAY TRIPS FURTHER AFIELD
Some may mean a very early start but ultimately the day will be worth the effort.
Times given are the shortest by car and average by train. There is a train station, Borgo Val Di Taro, nearby which has free parking.
Parma citta d’arte: By car 1.30 hrs, 88 k (52 miles). By train 1.00 hour from Borgotaro.
One of Italy’s best kept secrets! A beautiful little town rich in art, music, food and architecture.
In Parma City there are a wealth of places to visit, too many, individually, to mention here. Even so Parma is home to many treasures, artefacts and paintings by well known masters such as Correggio.
Visit one of the numerous informative museums, frescoed churches and cathedrals.Marvel at the many beautiful and important buildings some dating back to 1196. Or take a stroll and have a drink in one of the bars which nestle in the elegant parks.
When it comes to eating you are spoilt for choice with many good restaurants and bars.You may even be lucky enough to get tickets to the Regio Theatre, “a temple to Verdi”, to see one of the many operas performed during the season. Parma is now also a designated Unesco City – the City of Gastronomy.
There are various markets during the week.
Piacenza: By car 1.30 86 k (50 miles) By train 1.30 hours from Borgotaro.
Its name means pleasing or comely which indeed it is.
Set on the banks of the River Po Piacenza has been an urban settlement since 218 BC. Piacenza flourished in the 12th & 13th Centuries when its trade increased. New churches and monasteries enriched the town and two civic emblems were built: the Cathedral in 1122 and then the Palazzo Gotico in 1281.
Today Piacenza is a busy but none the less pleasing place to visit. Its narrow high streets, with some stunning architecture, are full of divers shops. There is an abundance of palaces, churches and museums and two beautifully restored theatres to visit.
The cage high on the cathedral wall, mentioned in the Magus by John Fowles, can still be seen, one can only imagine the horror of being incarcerated up there!
Market days are Wednesday and Saturday and like all towns in the area the eating is good.
Whilst going to or from Piacenza why not stop and explore one of the many mediaeval towns such as Castell’Arquato, Bobbio or Grazzano Visconti.
Venice: By car 3.30 hrs By train: 4.30 hours
Florence: By car: 2.45 hrs By train: 3.30 hours
Pisa: By car: 2.00 hrs By train: 2.15 hours
Lucca: By car: 2.00 hrs By train: 2.30 hours
A charming little walled town with medieval ramparts, featured on Top Gear.
Why not spend a day touring Lucca, Pisa and Prato, they are all in close proximity and once you have seen the Tower and Cathedral at Pisa there is not much more to see and Lucca is lovely to have a stroll around, lunch or just have an ice cream.
If you feeling a bit hot and bothered with the bustle of Lucca why not take time out at one of the parks nearby. These photos are of our peaceful morning on the 1st May when we had the park almost to ourselves. The gardener Monti Don had a wonderful time in these gardens Parco Villa Reale, especially in the verdant theatre.
Ravenna: By car: 3.00 hrs By train: 3.40 hours
A UNESCO World Heritage Site; a place of stunning churches filled with beautiful mosaics. A lovely friendly, clean little city.
Milano: By car: 2.15 hrs By train: 2.30 hours
Verona: By car 2.30 By train 3.30 hours
UNESCO World Heritage Site, rich in Roman Architecture (why go to Rome) and Opera in the Arena. And of course the City of Love!
Mantova: By car 2.30 hrs By Train 3.00/3.30 hours.
A beautiful town with cycle paths, boat trips on lakes and excellent restaurants. Well worth a visit.
Modena: By car 2.00 hrs By Train 1.45 hours.
A compact charming city centre; Modena is not just the home to Ducati , Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Bugatti. But also Balsamic Vinegar plus many more famous foods and products and the Pavarotti Theatre
Cremona: A pretty little town on the left bank of the river Po. It has seen habitation since 400 BC and is steeped in history. It is most famously know as the home of violin makers (Giuseppe Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari), not that you would notice, it is all very discrete!
For a the small sum of €2 why not tackle the 500+ steps to the top of the Duomo tower.
Bologna: By car 2.30 hrs By train 3.30/3.00 hours
Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy. Its Piazza Maggiore is a sprawling palaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and medieval and Renaissance structures such as City Hall, the Fountain of Neptune and the Basilica di San Petronio. Among the city’s many medieval towers are the Two Towers, leaning Asinelli and Garisenda.