Why You Should See Piacenza

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Often overlooked by tourists, Piacenza is an absolutely charming city. Located in Northern Italy, in the Emilia-Romagna region. It is bursting with things to see and appreciate. Literally, it means ‘the place that pleases’ and I found this city to be very pleasant indeed.

Situated between Milan, Parma, Verona and Genoa, you can stop-over and see Piacenza when driving in Italy. Which is exactly what we did during our recent Italian road trip.

Here I will give you some of the highlights and things you should see when visiting this small city, but delightful city. I spent a day here exploring, but you could easily spend more than a day seeing all the attractions Piacenza has to offer.

As with all Italian towns and cities, the primary features are the cathedrals and palaces. And Piacenza has its share of gorgeous historic architecture to see and admire. Stunning buildings grace the piazzas and streets in spades. Piacenza is known for having dozens of churches. Hence why it is sometimes called the ‘city of churches’. However, some no longer operate and have been converted for other uses.

Cathedral of Piacenza

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Cathedral of Piacenza

The Duomo di Piacenza is the main cathedral of Piacenza, and a great place to start your visit. It was completed in 1233. I love the Romanesque style architecture. The facade is adorned with beautiful Veronese pink marble, which was popular in many Italian buildings at the time. The interior has huge columns, and Renaissance frescoes are painted in the dome. It is situated in the Piazza Duomo square.

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Piazza Duomo

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La Cupola, The dome – photo credit

Square of Horses in Piacenza

The main square in Piacenza is called Piazza dei Cavalli (horses). Here you will see 2 lovely bronze equestrian statues of famous Italian notables who hated each other apparently. But the focal point in the piazza for me is the gothic building, aptly named Il Palazzo Gotico.

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Piazza dei Cavalli – photo credit


Gothic Palace of Piacenza

The Palazzo Gotico which dates from the 13th century is now the municipal building of the city of Piacenza and exhibitions are often held here.

It is quite unique in appearance. I love the contrast of the two levels. You can see that the lower portico is made of pink marble with pointed arches. Meanwhile, the upper level is of red brick with round arches. Then on top there are the classic castle features of archer crenellations.

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Palazzo Gotico – photo credit

San Francesco Church of Piacenza

In the same Piazza Cavalli you will find a gothic Italian church. It was named after Saint Francis of Assisi and was built in the 1200’s. With a very dark facade, I think it actually looks a bit ominous. However, it is of significant historical importance to the city of Piacenza. Why? Well this was the place of the official signing to join the new kingdom of Italy.

Municipal Theatre of Piacenza

If you love theatres, you will enjoy seeing this one. Because it is a beautiful miniature version of Milan’s famous theatre, Teatro alla Scala. The Municipal Theatre of Piacenza was built in the 18th century. You can see operas, ballet and concerts here. Inside it is lavishly decorated in gold and red velvet. It is stunning.

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Municipal Theatre – photo credit

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Interior of Teatro Piacenza – photo credit


Sant’Antonino Basilica of Piacenza

This is another beautiful Romanesque basilica. There are frescoes painted on the inside and other artwork to check out, if you love historic art. You will notice it has a tall eight-sided tower. A very interesting feature that stands out on the city landscape.

Farnese Palace in Piacenza

This palace used to be the home of the Duke of Parma & Piacenza. In my opinion, not one of the most beautiful palaces I’ve seen. This is probably because it wasn’t fully completed to the original design plans. It is missing some architectural features, including a facade with arches and a tower. Various problems lead to its unfinished state.

You can visit the Palace Museums here, Musei Civicito, to see the historic art collections on display. The most important piece of art is the painting by Botticelli, “Madonna adoring the Child with St John the Baptist” from the 1400’s.

In the lower lever, there is a splendid Carriage Museum. How cool is that! The authentic carriages have been beautifully maintained over the years.

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Palazzo Farnese, Piacenza – photo credit

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Painting – Madonna Adoring The Child, by Botticelli – photo credit

Streets of Piacenza

One of my favourite things to do as a traveller is to stroll around the streets of a city. It truly is the best way to explore and discover hidden gems. And Piacenza is perfect for doing just that. It’s very easy to get around on foot. So, take the time to wander around these delightful streets and lanes. It’s magical.

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Via Chiapponi

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Via XX Settembre – photo credit

And, of course, if you want some retail therapy, head to Via XX Settembre. This is Piacenza’s main shopping strip, connecting the two main piazzas that I mentioned earlier.

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Via Giovanni Battista Scalabrini

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Via Roma

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Narrow streets of Piacenza

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Piazzale Milano military statue

Food of Piacenza

We all get a bit peckish when touring around, right? And your appetite for Italian food will certainly be well catered for here. You cannot visit Piacenza without sampling some of the delicacies. After all, Piacenza is part of the Emilia-Romagna food valley which is the gastronomic epicentre of Italy.

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Tortelli from Piacenza – photo credit

You might want to sample some of the local Pasta dishes from Piacenza –

  • Tortelli con la coda are delicious.
  • Tagliatelle with a meat sauce.
  • Pisarei e Fasò, is a beans and pasta dish, authentic to the area.
  • Gnocchi in various sauces are always on the menu here too.

Veal and pork roasts are a staple, and all types of poultry are popular in Piacenza, roasted, in a cacciatora, in risotto, in pasta.

Cured meats, such as salami and pancetta, are the specialty here. The charcuterie choices available are endless.

The world famous Grana Padana cheese comes from Piacenza. This is Parmiggiano Reggiano’s biggest competition, made nearby in Parma. Personally, I love both of them, but there is a slight difference in taste.

Tomatoes are grown and canned here more than anywhere else in the country apparently.

Finally, wine is made from local grapes in the vineyards of Piacenza and are renowned world wide. The Piacenza Hills, Colli Piacentine, produce both red and white wines. About 20 different varieties are made here. One of the most popular reds is Gutturnio.

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Snazzy Tip: If you happen to be in the area early June, I recommend you check out the Gola Gola Summer Food Festival in Piacenza. A fabulous 3 day food and cultural celebration.

Other Snazzy facts about Piacenza

  • Piacenza is technically the oldest city of Italy. It was the first to join the unification of Italy in 1861.


  • Giorgio Armani, fashion designer, was born in Piacenza. He is arguably the most famous Italian designer.

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Giorgio Armani, born in Piacenza 1934 – photo credit

There you have it. You should see Piacenza if you get the chance. Make sure to stop by when driving through Italy, especially if you’re in Milan, as this is the closest city, only 1 hour by car. You will love it.

Whilst in the area, just a short 45 minute drive in the nearby hills, I visited the medieval castle, Castello di Vigoleno. Be sure to check out the article and read all about my enchanting stay at this beautiful castle and surrounding village.

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Countryside in the Province of Piacenza

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Tours of the Emilia Romagna region


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Must see Piacenza Italy
Must see Piacenza Italy
Must see Piacenza Italy
Must see Piacenza Italy

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7 thoughts on “Why You Should See Piacenza

  1. Travel with Mei and Kerstin says:

    OK you’ve convinced us to visit Piacenza! The Palazzo Gotico looks wonderful, and it’s great that this city is less touristy than nearby Milano or Venice. We had a road trip through Tuscany back in 2014 and loved it. Two years ago we visited Bergamo which is not far away from Milano and loved it too. And then last December we had 4 wonderful days in Venice, right after the high water when the city was void of tourists. But there are still so many places in Northern Italy (ok also the rest of the country…) that we want to visit. So when we return to Italy next time, we’ll certainly drive down there with own car. And Piacenza will be one of the stops we’ll make!

  2. Renee | The Holidaymaker says:

    I have not been here, but it looks like a great town to visit. I would especially like to go during their food festival in June. I love the finding out the history of where the different types of cheese or pasta were created in these small towns.

  3. Medha Verma says:

    I have never heard of Piacenza but it looks like a great little town for a stopover, as you mentioned. I love the architecture, especially of the Gothic Palace and the Basilica. However, my favourite place to stroll would be Via Roma, the streets look so charming!

  4. Adele says:

    What a beatiful place Piacenza is. I have not stopped here before but its on my list now. The Duomo and the square is really beautiful. It looks lovelier than Milan. There are so many off the beaten path locations in Italy that take one’s breath away and I am lucky to stay nearby.

  5. Ambuj Saxena says:

    I have been to southern part of italy a few times and haven’t visited the northern part too much. However I have followed the unification story of Italy and i am glad to read about the first state of italy that was part of the process. It is interesting to note that around the time when the duomo of paicenza was built, sultans were ruling india and Qutub minar (a UNESCO World Heritage site In delhi) was already built. Isn’t it interesting to note the historical happenings around the same time in different parts of the world?

  6. gofargrowclose says:

    It is astounding that I have never heard of such a beautiful Italian city with so much to see and do. It just goes to show you how much there is in Italy that this city is not celebrated the same way as Florence or Sienna.

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