Castell'Arquato is a comune and town located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy in the province of Picaenza. The town is located on the hills of Val D'Arda and is close to the cities of Parma and Piacenza. The town has retained its medieval structure and as per scholars the appearance of the town is still what it was like in the 10th century. The older section of the town is located at a higher altitude on top of a rock and is now surrounded by the newer sections that have been built in the past years.
The location of the town had made it strategically important in the medieval times and over the years it has appeared in several movies. Famous opera librettist Luigi Illica was born in Castell'Arquato in 1857. The town is also famous for wine production. It is located in the Piacenza hills area which is known for producing some of the best wines in Italy.
Getting to Castell'Arquato
There is no train station in the town; the nearest stations are in Florence and Piacenza. Visitors coming from other parts of Italy can reach Florence by train or by flights and then reach the town by buses or taxis. Buses frequently depart from Florence and Piacenza from Castell'Arquato. There are state buses as well as private buses available from these locations so travelling by bus is quite comfortable. Visitors coming from Milan can take the A1 motorway towards Florence and then continue to Castell'Arquato. Visitors coming from Turin can take the A21 motorway in the direction of Bologna to reach the town.
Moving Around the Town
Castell'Arquato is quite a small town, with an area of just 52 sq km. The older section of the town can only be visited on foot since it has very narrow lanes and streets, not comfortable for driving. There are only a few places in the town that can be visited so they can all be covered by walking around the town. Visitors who have their own cars can drive to explore the other newer sections of the town. The town has a village like atmosphere, with almost no traffic and plenty of picturesque streets which makes it enjoyable to stroll on afternoons. Plenty of locals can be seen leisurely walking around in the evenings.
Attractions in Castell'Arquato
Rocca Viscontea or the Visconti castle is one of the most visited locations in the town. The castle was built over the remains of an existing castle and was the seat of the Visconti garrison. The quadrangular building has four tall towers located at each angle, a keep and two separate entrances. The castle is now home to the medieval museum of Castell'Arquato and much of the castle is still undamaged.
Collegiata Church of Saint Mary
The collegiate church of Saint Mary was first built in the 8th century. However, after a massive earthquake it had to be completely rebuilt in the 12th century. The most noteworthy aspect of the church is the Romanesque paradise portico dating back to the 14th century. There are four apses of the church and 13th century cloister are also quite beautiful. Within the church are several sculptures from the 12th century and beautiful frescoes.
Palazzo dell Podesta
The ancient monument of Palazzo dell Podesta was first built in 1292 and has been altered several times since then. Several additions were made to the existing building later on, including a wing overlooking the square and two buildings. The outer staircase was built at the same time as the main structure and is quite noteworthy.
Palazzo del Duca
Palazzo Del Duca, or the Ducal palace was built in 1292 by Alberto Scoto. The palace had been used as a residence in the past centuries and several alterations have been done to the main building in recent times. An underground tunnel connects the palace to the Farnese Tower.
Torrione Farnese is the Farnese tower in Castell'Arquato which represents the typical medieval military structure used in ancient times. Although it is unclear when the tower was originally built, it is believed that it was earlier than the 16th century. The large tower stands dominating the town and is connected by a tunnel to the Ducal palace.
Stay and accommodation
Castell'Arquato is quite a small town but it does attract quite a lot of tourists that come here to enjoy its medieval structure and its natural beauty. Also, since it is a famous wine producing region many people come to the town to visit the nearby vineyards and wineries. There are quite a lot of good hotels, Bed and Breakfasts in the town. There are also a few farm houses and villas which can be rented by visitors if they plan to stay longer in the town. Some of the best hotels in town are Golf Club Castell'Arquato, Locanda Sidoli Di Sidoli Enrica, Leon D'Oro Sas, Locanda Delle Rosse and Borgo Di Castell Arquato.
Eating in Castell'Arquato
There are plenty of options in terms of restaurants and pizzerias in Castell'Arquato. The town has quite a lot of good places to eat where visitors can sample simple regional specialties made from fresh produce grown in the region. Good wines are available almost everywhere and there are also a few cafes and bars in Castell'Arquato. Some of the best restaurants in Castell'Arquato are Ristorante da Franco, Ristorante Primavera, Ristorante Del Voltone, pizzeria La Sosta, ristorante Stradivarius, Ristorante Taverna del Falconiere and pizzeria trattoria Del Dighino.
Shopping in Castell'Arquato
There are plenty of things that visitors can purchase in Castell'Arquato. The town is known for its handicrafts so there are quite a lot of small shops that sell antiques, pottery and textiles which can be found in the older section of the town. However, Castell'Arquato is mostly known for its wines so the best thing to purchase would be a bottle of local wine. The most famous wines produced in the region are Gutturnio, Ortugo, Bonarda and Malvasia.