Chiaravalle Abbey, Fidenza Duomo, Vigoleno Castle & Lunch!
Visit the Attractions In & Around Fidenza - Fidenza Cathedral, Chiaravalle, Vigoleno Castle.
|A Fidenza Duomo Capital: Elizabeth, Two Virgins of the Temple, the High Priest.|
Chiaravalle della Colomba A Cistercian Monastery founded by St. Bernard himself in 1135 AD. The large church is Romanesque-Gothic with a notable cloister.
Fidenza Historic town on the Roman Via Emilia and the medieval Via Francigena. The best attraction is an important formative Cathedral with narrative statuary from the 1100's.
|Chiaravalle della Colomba Abbey 14th century cloister.|
Chiaravalle della Colomba. The large basilica of this monastery complex is the first appearance of Cistercian architecture in Italy and conforms to St. Bernard's desire for minimal decoration. There are few statues and simple column capitals. Despite a 15th century renovation, and centuries of neglect, the restored church preserves its original character with both Romanesque and Gothic elements. The Abbey is organized around the fabulous 14th century cloister which shows an early return of decorative elements. There are modest animal motifs, Paduan architectural elements, and monkish corner statues, but that wonderful peaceful cloister feeling has not been diminished. Also visitable is the sacristry, the chapter room, a little museum, and a 'liquoreria' where visitors can buy traditional monk products: liqueur, tea, perfume, honey. See the Chiaravalle Website for hours and more information.
|Fidenza Cathedral Fidenza Duomo|
Fidenza is at the edge of the fertile Po plain in the center of Italy, and it has been there just about forever - long before 41 BC when it was made an official Roman municipium. Of course it went through all the vicissitudes of the times; it was destroyed by Constantine, then became the royal seat of King Conrad II of Italy for a while before Emperor Barbarossa gave it to a family named Pallavicino from Piacenza, then destroyed by Parma, rebuilt by Milan, and so on, until finally the Allies bombed the heck out of it in the course of WWII.
|King David by Benedetto Antelami and the Facade of Fidenza Cathedral|
While the church is Romanesque it also displays the beginning of Gothic influence. This Cathedral allows the viewer insight into the educational role of a church in medieval society. After an earthquake in 1117, the church was reconstructed. The rebuild left the upper levels in the original style, but the lower levels of the facade were reconfigured to illustrate stories from the New and Old Testaments of the Bible, as well as religiously significant current or local events, for the edification of local believers and pilgrims heading to Rome on the Via Francigena.
|Presentation of Baby Jesus at the Temple Fidenza Cathedral Facade|
The sculptures are attributed to the school of Benedetto Antelami, and the largest two - David and Ezekial - to the master himself. Little is known about Maestro Antelami, but he and his school brought realism and humanism to sculpture as Giotto did to painting in the next century. In Parma, you can see more of his work in the Cathedral and Baptistry.
|King Herod on his Throne Fidenza Cathedral Facade Duomo Facciata|
|The Three Magi Fidenza Cathedral Facade Fidenza Duomo Facciata|
The Cathedral interior is simple and well-proportioned. The crypt preserves ancient pavement, and interesting relics of Saint Domninus, as well as a statue of him holding his head.
Domninus aka Saint Donnino, has an interesting story. He was Chamberlain to Emperor Maximian, no small job, but when he converted to Christianity and showed up parading a cross through Piacenza, he was pursued and beheaded on the banks of the River Stirone. Not one to take that lying down, he picked up his head and crossed the river to where he wanted the Duomo dedicated to him to be built.
|Prophet Elijah Rising to Heaven w. traces of original color, Fidenza Facade.|
Lunch. Finally it’s time for lunch, and you’re in for a treat. Just outside the pedestrian zone at 33 Via Mentana, a modest little restaurant named Trattoria Al Canton 33 serves some terrific local dishes. We were lucky – we hadn’t reserved, but it was a quiet week day in November, so all was well. The staff were welcoming and cordial, and the waitress explained a couple of appetizers to us and told us which dishes were house specialties. We decided to split an appetizer called La Rosa di Eva, because she gave us that look and said “This is very delicate, you’ll like it”. Okay, why not. While we waited, she brought us a little gift from the kitchen, a slice of vegetable quiche for each of us. This bodes well, it was delicious. The Rosa di Eva was a little Parmigiano souffle on a savory bed of mushrooms, beautifully plated (1/2 for each of us) and just great, light, smooth and tasty.
|Agnolini in brodo at Trattoria Al Canton 33, Fidenza.|
Fidenza Village Outlet. After such a Duomo and such a lunch, it’s hard to return willingly to daily life, but if you’re still looking for an afternoon excursion, it would be remiss of us not to mention Fidenza Village, one of the larger outlets in Italy. It's a huge shopping experience that runs the gamut from Armani to Versace, and includes Coach, Camper, Levi’s, Timberland and about 100 more stores of American and European goods. It's located right at the Fidenza intersection on the A1 autostrada. Fidenza Village Website
|Vigolino Castle & Town Piacenza Province|
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Written by Martha / Photos by Mike
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