|— Comune —|
|Comune di Piacenza|
|Francesco Mochi's 1615 equestrian statue of Ranuccio II Farnese in the city’s main square, Piazza dei cavalli.|
|Frazioni||Vallera, San Bonico, Pittolo, La Verza, Mucinasso, I Vaccari, Roncaglia, Montale, Borghetto, Le Mose, Mortizza, Gerbido|
|• Mayor||Paolo Dosi (PD)|
|• Total||118.46 km2 (45.74 sq mi)|
|Elevation||61 m (200 ft)|
|Population (30 November 2012)|
|• Density||850/km2 ( 2,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Antonino of Piacenza (4 July),
Piacenza listen (help·info) (Placentia in Latin, Piasëinsa in the local dialect of Emiliano-Romagnolo) is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Piacenza. Modern forms of the name descend from Latin Placentia.[note 1] The etymology is long-standing, tracing an origin from the Latin verb, placēre, "to please." It is thus a "pleasant abode" or as James Boswell reported some of the etymologists of his time to have translated, "comely." This was a name "of good omen."
Strategically the city is at a major crossroads at the intersection of Route E35/A1 between Bologna, gateway to eastern Italy, and Milan, gateway to the Alps, and Route E70/A21 between Brescia at the foot of the Alps and Tortona, where branches lead to Turin in the north, a major industrial city, and Genoa, a major coastal port. Piacenza is also at the confluence of the Trebbia, draining the northern Apennines, and the Po, the major waterway of northern Italy, draining to the east. Piacenza right from its foundation has been of vital interest to political powers who would control northern Italy, more than any other city there. In peace it is a cultural center; in war, a focus of conflict. Piacenza also host one campus of the Politecnico di Milano.
Before its settlement by the Romans, the area was populated by other peoples; specifically, most recently to the Roman settlement, the region on the right bank of the Po River between the Trebbia River and the Taro River had been occupied by the Ananes or Anamari, a tribe of Cisalpine Gauls. Before then, says Polybius, "These plains were anciently inhabited by Etruscans", before the Gauls took the entire Po valley from them. Although Polybius says the Etruscans were expelled, he meant perhaps selectively, as Etruscan culture continued in the area until assimilated to the Roman. The Etruscans were well known for the practice of divining by the entrails of sheep. A bronze sculpture of a liver called the "Liver of Piacenza" was discovered in 1877 at Gossolengo just to the south of Piacenza complete with the name of regions marked on it which were assigned to various gods. It has been connected to the practice of haruspicy, which was adopted by the Romans; certainly, the liver dates to the middle Roman Republic.
Piacenza and Cremona were founded as a Roman military colonies in May 218 BC. The Romans had planned to construct them after the successful conclusion of the latest war with the Gauls ending in 219 BC. In the spring of 218 BC after declaring war on Carthage the Senate decided to accelerate the foundation and gave the colonists 30 days to appear on the sites to receive their lands. They were each to be settled by 6000 Roman citizens but the cities were to receive Latin Rights; that is, they were to have the same legal status as the many colonies that had been co-founded by Rome and towns of Latium.
The reaction of the Gauls in the region was swift; they drove the colonists off the lands. Taking refuge in Mutina the latter sent for military assistance. A small force under Lucius Manlius was prevented from reaching the area. The Senate now sent two legions under Gaius Atelius. Collecting Manlius and the colonists they descended on Piacenza and Cremona and successfully placed castra there of 480 m2 (0.12 acre) to support the building of the city. Piacenza must have been walled immediately as the walls were in place when the Battle of the Trebbia was fought around the city in December. There is no evidence either textual or archaeological of a prior settlement on that exact location; however, the site would have been obliterated by construction. Piacenza was the 53rd colony to be placed by Rome since its foundation. It was the first among the Gauls of the Po valley.
It had to be supplied by boat after the Battle of Trebbia, when Hannibal controlled the countryside, for which purpose a port (Emporium) was constructed. In 209 BC Hasdrubal crossed the Alps and laid siege to the city, but he was unable to take it and withdrew. In 200 BC the Gauls sacked and burned it, selling the population into slavery. Subsequently the victorious Romans restored the city and managed to recover 2000 citizens. In 198 BC a combined force of Gauls and Ligurians plundered the whole region. As the people had never recovered from being sold into slavery, they complained to Senate in 190 BC of underpopulation, at which the Senate sent 3000 new settlers. The construction of the Via Aemilia in the 180's made the city easily accessible from the Adriatic ports, which improved trade and the prospects for timely defense. Although sacked and devastated several times, the city always recovered and by the 6th century Procopius was calling it "the principal city in the country of Aemilia".
The era of Late Antiquity in Piacenza (4th/9th centuries AD) was marked by the expansion of Christianity, with the presence of several martyrs. Before the year 286 AD Piacenza was not overtly Christian. In that year the co-emperors of the late Roman Empire resolved once again on an attempt to eradicate Christianity, the senior emperor, Diocletian, relying this time on the services of a subordinate emperor, Maximian. The latter intended to suppress the Christians of Gaul with fire and sword. He ordered the garrison of Thebes, Egypt, to join him in Gaul for that purpose. It is not clear whether he knew that the entire legion, having been recruited in a then intensely Christian region, was Christian.
Judging from the trail of saints, the legion must have landed at Rimini and have traversed the Via Aemilia to Piacenza. From there they entered the Alps north of Milan. In the vicinity of St. Moritz they discovered the hitherto secret orders and ceased to cooperate. The emperor forced a confrontation by ordering them to conduct national sacrifices and then decimated them when they refused. The legion drew up a manifesto stating that they would obey any other command of his but the authority of God took precedence and they would not sacrifice or kill Christians. As much of the legion as was present: 6666 men (perhaps a mystical number) were massacred, becoming the legendary Theban legion, which was declared to be saints in toto, St. Moritz, the site of the massacre, being named after the commander.
Not all individuals and units of the legion were present. Maximian ordered that all other members of the legion were to be tracked down and offered the same choice: sacrifice or die. A company that had reached southern Germany perished in this way. The legends of Saint Antoninus and others across northern Italy can only be explained as being of individuals left behind for various reasons in the passage of the legion. As Diocletian had a long reign and remained anti-Christian the government caught Antoninus in 303 AD and he was beheaded (as had been St. Moritz) at Travo in Val Trebbia, but not before he had had a chance to establish Christianity in Piacenza.
The first Bishop of Piacenza (322-357), San Vittorio, declared Antoninus the patron saint of Piacenza and had the first Basilica di S. Antonio constructed in his honor in 324 in downtown Piacenza. It was restored in 903, rebuilt in 1101, again in 1562, and is still a church today. The remains of the bishop and the soldier are in urns under the altar. The theme of the soldier-saint, protector of Piacenza, is well known in art.
Piacenza was sacked during the course of the Gothic Wars (535–552). After a short period of being reconquered by Roman Emperor Justinian I, it was conquered by the Lombards, who made it a duchy seat. After the Frankish conquest (9th century) the city began to recover, aided by its location along the Via Francigena that later connected the Holy Roman Empire with Rome. Its population and importance grew further after the year 1000. That period marked a gradual transfer of governing powers from the feudal lords to a new enterprising class, as well to the feudal class of the countryside.
In 1095 the city was the site of the Council of Piacenza, in which the First Crusade was proclaimed. From 1126 Piacenza was a free commune and an important member of the Lombard League. In this role it took part in the war against the emperor Frederick Barbarossa and in the subsequent battle of Legnano (1176). It also successfully fought the neighbouring communes of Cremona, Pavia and Parma, expanding its possessions. Piacenza also captured control of the trading routes with Genoa, where the first Piacentini bankers had already settled, from the Malaspina counts and the bishop of Bobbio.
In the 13th century, despite unsuccessful wars against emperor Frederick II, Piacenza managed to gain strongholds on the Lombardy shore of the Po River. The primilaries of the Peace of Constance were signed in 1183 in the Saint Antoninus church. Agriculture and trade flourished in these centuries, and Piacenza became one of the richest cities in Europe. This is reflected in the construction of many important buildings and in the general revision of the urban plan. Struggles for control were commonplace in the second half of the 13th century, not unlike the large majority of Medieval Italian communes. The Scotti family, Pallavicino family and Alberto Scoto (1290–1313) held power in that order during the period. Scoto's government ended when the Visconti of Milan captured Piacenza, which they would hold until 1447. Duke Gian Galeazzo rewrote Piacenza's statutes and relocated the University of Pavia to the city. Piacenza then became a Sforza possession until 1499.
A coin from the 16th century features the motto: Placentia floret ("Piacenza flourishes") on one of its sides. The city was progressing economically, chiefly due to the expansion of agriculture in the countryside surrounding the city. Also in the course of that century a new city wall was erected. Piacenza was ruled by France until 1521, and briefly, under Leo X, it became part of the Papal States. In 1545, it became part of the newly created Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, which was ruled by the Farnese family.
Piacenza was the capital city of the duchy until Ottavio Farnese (1547–1586) moved it to Parma. The city underwent some of its most difficult years during the rule of duke Odoardo (1622–1646), when between 6,000 and 13,000 Piacentini out of the population of 30,000 died from famine and plague, respectively. The city and its countryside were also ravaged by bandits and French soldiers.
Between 1732 and 1859, Parma and Piacenza were ruled by the House of Bourbon. In the 18th century, several edifices which belonged to noble families such as Scotti, Landi and Fogliani were built in Piacenza.
In 1802, Napoleon's army annexed Piacenza to the French Empire. Young Piacentini recruits were sent to fight in Russia, Spain and Germany, while the city was plundered of a great number of artworks which are currently exhibited in many French museums.
The Habsburg government of Maria Luisa 1816-1847 is remembered fondly as one of the best in the history of Piacenza; the duchess drained many lands, built several bridges across the Trebbia river and the Nure stream, and created educational and artistic activities.
Union with Italy
Austrian and Croatian troops occupied Piacenza until, in 1848, a plebiscite marked the entrance of the city in the Kingdom of Sardinia. 37,089 voters out of 37,585 voted for the annexation. Piacenza was therefore declared Primogenita dell'Unità di Italia ("First-born of Unification of Italy") by the monarch. The Piacentini enrolled en masse in the Giuseppe Garibaldi's army in the Expedition of the Thousand.
On June 1865 the first railway bridge over Po river in northern Italy was inaugurated (in southern Italy a railroad bridge had already been built in 1839). In 1891 the first Chamber of Workers was created in Piacenza.
World War II
During World War II the city was heavily bombed by the Allies. The important railway and road bridges across the Trebbia and the Po rivers and the railway yards were destroyed. The historic centre of city itself also suffered collateral damage. In 1944 the bridges over the Po became vital for the supply from Austria of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's Gothic Line, which protected the withdrawal of Kesselring's troops from Italy. Foremost among these were the railway and road bridges at Piacenza, along with supply depots and railway yards. In Operation Mallory Major, July 12–15, allied medium bombers from Corsica flew 300 sorties a day, knocking out 21 bridges east of Piacenza, and then continued to the west for a total of 90 by July 20. Fighter-bombers prevented reconstruction and cut roads and rail lines. By August 4 all the cities of northern Italy were isolated and had suffered heavy bombing, especially Piacenza. Transport to Genoa to the south or through Turin to the north was impossible; nevertheless, Kesselring continued to supply his men.
On the hills and the Apennine mountains, partisan bands were active. On April 25, 1945, a general partisan insurrection by the Italian resistance movement broke out and on April 29, troops of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force entered the city. In 1996 president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro honoured Piacenza with the Gold Medal for Valour in Battle.
There was a Prisoner of War (POW) camp located here known as Veano Camp PG 29, Piacenza.
Piacenza boasts a great number of historical palaces, often characterized by splendid gardens.
- Palazzo Comunale, also known as il Gotico, was built in 1281 as the seat of the government of the town. It is one of the best preserved examples of the kind of Medieval civic building in northern Italy known as the Broletto, and is typical of nearby Lombardy. Of the original design, only the northern side was completed, with its typical Guelph merlons, the arcaded frame, the central bell tower with two lesser ones at the sides. The façade, with five arcades, is in pink marble in the lower part and in brickwork (decorated with geometrical figures) in the upper part. A rose window overlooks the short side, which has three arcades. The main hall has frescoes, and is used for meetings, lectures and conferences.
- Palazzo Farnese, begun in 1568 by Ottavio Farnese and his wife, Margaret of Austria. The initial project was devised by Francesco Paciotto, from Urbino, and works were entrusted to Giovanni Bernardo Della Valle, Giovanni Lavezzari and Bernardo Panizzari (Caramosino). The design was modified in 1568 by Jacopo Barozzi, better known as Vignola.
- Palazzo Landi, built in the Middle Ages but renovated in the late 15th century.
- Palazzo Costa.
- Palazzo Somaglia.
- Palazzo Scotti, housing the Museum of Natural History.
- Palazzo dei Mercanti (17th century), the current Town Hall.
Other places of interest
- Piazza Cavalli is the main square of the town. It is named ("Cavalli" means "horses") for the two bronze equestrian monuments of Alessandro Farnese (Duke of Parma and Piacenza from 1586, nephew and valiant general of Philip II of Spain) and his son Ranuccio, who succeeded him to the dukedom. The statues are masterpieces of Francesco Mochi, a Mannerist sculptor.
- The Duomo di Piacenza is the Catholic cathedral of the diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio. It was built from 1122 to 1233 and is one of the most valuable examples of a Romanesque cathedral in northern Italy. The façade, in Veronese pink marble and gilted stone, is horizontally parted by a gallery that dominates the three gates, decorated with capitals and Romanic statues. The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by 25 large pillars. It has noteworthy frescoes, made in the 14th-16th centuries by Camillo Procaccini and Ludovico Carracci, while those of the dome are by Morazzone and Guercino. The presbytery as a wooden sculpture from 1479, a wooden choir by Giangiacomo da Genova (1471) and statues of Lombard school from the 15th century. The crypt, on the Greek cross plan, has 108 Romanesque small columns and is home to the relics of Saint Justine, to which the first cathedral (crumbled down in 1117 after an earthquake) was dedicated.
- The church of St. Francis, in Piazza Cavalli, is a 12th-century Romanesque/Gothic edifice which, thanks to its central position, assumed the role of civic Sanctuary in the Middle Ages. Part of the ancient cloisters remains. The main gate is enriched by a big lunette of the 15th century representing the Ecstasy of St. Francis. The interior, with nave and two aisles divided by low and strong brick pillars that support high gothic arches, has a Latin Cross scheme. The nave, higher than the aisles, has a pentahedric apse in which the aisle apses meet; decorations include 15th-16th centuries frescoes. In the church was proclaimed the annexion of Piacenza to the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1848.
- The basilica of Sant'Antonino is an example of Romanesque architecture, characterized by a large octagonal tower. It was commissioned by St. Victor, first bishop of the city, in 350 CE, and completed in 375. It contains the relics of the eponymous saint, martyred near Travo, in the Val Trebbia. In 1183 the delegates of Frederick Barbarossa and of the Lombard League met here for the preliminaries of peace of Constance. The church was renovated after damage created by the barbarian invasion, and has a 15th-century cloister. In the interior, the main artworks are the frescoes by Camillo Gervasetti (1622).
- The basilica of San Savino, dedicated to St. Victor's successor, was begun in 903 but consecrated only in 1107. The façade and the portico are from the 17th-18th centuries. The presbytery and the crypts contain 12th century polychrome mosaics. The interior is in Lombard-Gothic style, with anthropomorphic capitals of the columns. Over the high altar is a 12th-century wooden crucifix by an unknown artist.
- San Giovanni in Canale was founded by the Dominicans in 1220, and enlarged in the mid-16th century.
- Santa Maria in Campagna, a Renaissance church, faces Piazzale delle Crociate ("Crusades Square"), so called because Pope Urban II summoned the First Crusade here in 1095. The church was built in 1522–1528 to house a miraculous wooden sculpture of the Madonna. The interior was originally on the Greek cross plan, but was later turned into a Latin cross one. Il Pordenone finished fine frescoes in the dome and in two chapels on the left side.
- St. Sixtus is a Renaissance church with a choir designed by Gio Pietro Pambianco da Colorno e di Bartolomeo da Busseto (1512-1514). It was begun in the 15th century over a temple built in 874 by Empress Angilberga. Also by Tramello is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In 1513 the monks of St. Sixtus commissioned Raphael to produce the altarpiece known as the Sistine Madonna but sold it in 1754 to Augustus III of Poland. It is now on display in Dresden.
- The Piacenza's Archaeological Museum, part of the Civic Museums of Palazzo Farnese, houses the pre-Roman bronze Liver of Piacenza, an Etruscan bronze model of a sheep's liver dating from the end of the 2nd century to the beginning of the 1st century BCE. It was discovered in 1877 in Ciavernasco di Settima, near Gossolengo in the Piacenza hinterland. Containing writing on its surface delineating the various parts of the liver and their significance, it was likely used as an educational tool for students studying haruspicy, or divination.
- Palazzo Landi, built in the Middle Ages but rebuilt in the current form in the 15th century by Lombard craftsmen. It has a Renaissance marble portal. It is now seat of the local Tribunal.
- Ricci Oddi Gallery is an art-gallery dedicated to modern Italian painters.
Many inhabitants of Piacenza and the surrounding province still use the Piacentine (or Piacentino) dialect, which is a variety of the Emiliano-Romagnolo minority language. The different grammar rules and the dissimilar pronunciation of even similar words make it largely mutually unintelligible with standard Italian, with many regular vowels being replaced with umlauts or eliminated altogether. Although there have been a number of notable poets and writers using the Piacentine, it has experienced a steady decline during the 20th century due to the growing standardization of the Italian language in the national educational system.
Piacenza and its province are known for the production of seasoned and salted pork products. The main specialities are pancetta (rolled seasoned pork belly, salted and spiced), coppa (seasoned pork neck, containing less fat than pancetta, matured at least for six months) and salame (chopped pork meat flavoured with spices and wine, and made into sausages).
Bortellina (salted pancakes made with flour, salt, and water or milk) and chisulén (torta fritta in Standard Italian; made with flour, milk, and animal fats mixed together and then fried in hot strutto, or clarified pork fat) are the perfect coupling of pancetta, coppa, and salame, but they are also good with fat cheese, particularly Gorgonzola cheese and Robiola.
Pisarei e fasö is a mixture of handmade pasta and beans.
Among the culinary specialties of the Piacenza region (although also enjoyed in nearby Cremona) is mostarda di frutta, consisting of preserved fruits in a sugary syrup strongly flavored with mustard. Turtlìt (tortelli dolci in standard Italian), or fruit dumplings, are filled with mostarda di frutta, mashed chestnuts, and other ingredients, and are served at Easter. Turtlìt are also popular in the Ferrara area. Turtéi, a similarly named Piacentine specialty, is a kind of pasta filled with ricotta cheese.
Piacentine staple foods include corn (generally cooked as polenta) and rice (usually cooked as risotto), both of which are very common across northern Italy. Pasta is also eaten, though it is not as popular as in southern Italy. There are also locally produced cheeses, such as Grana Padano, though nearby Parma is more famous for its dairy products.
The hills surrounding Piacenza are known for their vineyards. The wine produced in this area is qualified with a D.o.c. (Denominazione di origine controllata) called "Colli piacentini" ("Hills of Piacenza"). Main wines are Gutturnio (red wine, both sparkling and still), Bonarda (a red wine, often sparkling and foamy, made from Croatina grapes), Ortrugo (a dry white wine), and Malvasia (a sweet white wine).
- Saint Gerard of Potenza (died 1119), Bishop of Potenza from 1111 until his death.
- Placentinus (died 1192), law scholar, founder of the Law School of the University of Montpellier.
- Teobaldo Visconti (c. 1210–1276), became Pope Gregory X.
- Saint Conrad of Piacenza (1290–1351), medieval Franciscan hermit.
- Giovanni Battista Guadagnini (1711–1786), member of the Guadagnini family of luthiers.
- Melchiorre Gioia (1767–1829), writer on philosophy and political economy.
- Pietro Giordani (1774–1848), writer and classical literary scholar.
- Amilcare Ponchielli (1834–1886), musician and composer, began his career here in 1861.
- Giuseppe Merosi (1872–1956), automobile engineer.
- Ettore Boiardi (1897–1985), chef, better known as Chef Boyardee.
- Edoardo Amaldi (1908–1989), physicist, professor at Sapienza University of Rome (1938–1979), co-founder of CERN, ESA, and INFN.
- Amedeo Guillet (born 1909), World War II cavalry commander and diplomat, also known as "Comandante Diavolo".
- Cardinal Agostino Casaroli (1914–1998), Catholic priest and diplomat for the Holy See, Cardinal Secretary of State (1979–1990).
- Tarquinio Provini (1933–2005), twice World Champion Grand Prix motorcycle racer.
- Giorgio Armani (born 1934), fashion designer.
- Mario Arcelli (1935–2004), economist and once Minister for Budget of the Italian Government (1996).
- Ettore Gotti Tedeschi (born 1945), economist and banker, former President of the Vatican Bank.
- Filippo "Pippo" Inzaghi (born 1973), World Cup-winning footballer.
- Simone Inzaghi (born 1976), professional footballer.
- Nina Zilli (born 1980), singer and songwriter who represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012.
- Giorgia Bronzini (born 1983), cyclist, World Champion of female Cycling in 2010 and 2011.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Piacenza is twinned with:
- Latin Pl- becomes Italian Pi-; Latin -tia becomes Italian -za; however, the dialect form represents a slightly different regional development.
- Data from Istat
- Charnock, Richard Stephen (1859). Local Etymology: A Derivative Dictionary of Geographical Names. London: Houlston and Wright. p. 209.
- Pottle, Marion S.; Claude Colleer Abbott; Frederick A. Pottle (1993). Catalogue of the Papers of James Boswell at Yale University I (Research ed.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 272. ISBN 0748603999, ISBN 978-0-7486-0399-2.
- Taylor, Isaac (1882). Words and Places: Or, Etymological Illustrations of History, Ethnology and Geography. London: Macmillan and Co. p. 322.
- Smith, William (1854). "Ananes". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, illustrated by numerous engravings on wood. London: Walton and Maberly; John Murray. Smith cites Polybius, Histories, Book II, sections 17 and 32.
- Histories II.17.
- Polybius III.40, Livy XXI.25.
- Potter, T. W. (1990). Roman Italy 1 (reprint ed.). University of California Press. pp. 57–58. ISBN 0520069757, ISBN 978-0-520-06975-6.
- Livy History of Rome XXVII.39, 43.
- Livy History of Rome XXXI.10.
- Livy History of Rome XXXVII.46-47.
- Procopius History of the Wars Book VII chapter XIII.
- "La Basilica" (in Italian). Museo Capitolare Sant'Antonino. Retrieved 24 April 2009.
- Townsend, George Henry (1877). The manual of dates: a dictionary of reference to all the most important events in the history of mankind to be found in authentic records (5 ed.). London: Frederick Warne. p. 752.
- Craven, Wesley Frank; James Lea Cate, Editors (1983). The Army Air Forces in World War II. DIANE Publishing. pp. 404–407. ISBN 091279903X, 9780912799032.
- "Local Cuisine". Municipality of Piacenza. Retrieved 11 April 2009.[dead link]
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- Piacenza travel guide from Wikivoyage
- "Cultura dialettale" (in Italian, Piacentino). bettolapc.interfree.it. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- Piacenza on The Campanile Project
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