Todays day trip from Milan takes us to Piacenza, a super easy drive (or train ride) from Milan. It sits near the banks of the Po river, just over the border into Emilia-Romagna.
It wasn’t even on my radar- not somewhere that was on “the list”. But Chris suggested it one weekend when we couldn’t decide where to go that day. And so we hopped in the car, ready to explore. It was a quick trip only taking about 40 minutes to reach from where we live.
Piacenza is so charming and a little quirky in the best way. Dating back to 218 b.c., it was constructed by the Romans as a military colony. In 2015 it is a real bustling little city full of university students, families, and people working and socializing.
By the time we arrived we were starving and wanting to grab lunch before everything closed for the afternoon. The 2 places I had scoped out on our drive were both closed that day, and so we headed into the heart of town- not always a smart decision when looking for great local food that isn’t geared toward tourists.
We saw a small sign on the corner of the main drag pointing down a side street, and decided to go for it. I almost turned away when I saw the front of the restaurant- it just looked like a simple coffee bar.
However, I’ve learned to not judge a book by its cover when it comes to restaurants in Italy. I’m so glad we went in!
It was amazing! I kid you not- we are still dreaming about this lunch weeks later.
The pickled vegetables paired with the gnocco fritto and salumi was so fantastic, definitely a more delicious variation than what we have tasted before. But the star of this meal was truly the tortelli di zucca.
I’ve had many variations of homemade pasta filled with pumpkin, but this was the best one I’ve ever had.
Tortelli di zucca is a special but simple dish, often dressed with a little butter and sage. Osteria Carducci’s had a little creamy cheese combined with the zucca inside and was topped with a light butter and lemon zest sauce.
Oh my word! The addition of lemon made this a unique and perfect combination. I didn’t want to share even 1 bite, although I did.
Is it wrong to want to lick the plate?
After that delicious lunch, we walked and walked- exploring the main streets, back streets and every church we could find open.
For having known nothing about Piacenza, I ended the day with another great day trip in my back pocket and was so glad that we had gone! It has beautiful churches, grand piazzas, and shopping galore. I hope to go back and explore some more.
I would definitely go back to Osteria Carducci for just 1 bite of their tortelli…
- Piazza Cavalli, the main medieval town square in Piacenza.
- Duomo di Piacenza, a Romanesque church from 1122.
- Make sure to look for the iron cage attached to the outside wall of the bell tower, added in 1495 where people guilty of crimes against the church had to watch their neighbors and family go about daily life in the square below. Some people say it was just to scare everyone into good behavior, that there is no documentation of its use. Either way, it’s still a creepy and interesting sight!
- Chiesa di San Francesco, 12th century Romanesque-Gothic church (Piazza Cavalli)
- Basilica of San Savino, Lombard-Gothic church from 903 a.d. (Via Alberoni, 35 Piacenza)
- Basilica of Sant’Antonino, built in the 12th century and dedicated to Piacenza’s patron Saint. (Piazza S.Antonino, Piacenza)
- La Bottega del Vimini- a special kitchen and home shop with wicker and wooden accessories
(Via Pace, 6 ) I loved their wooden spoons + risotto spoons.
Salumeria Garetti- a beautiful shop with salumi, formaggio and other delicious treats. (Piazza Duomo, 44)
Where to eat + drink:
Osteria Carducci (Via Giosuè Carducci, 6) phone- 05 2331 8394
If you go, you MUST try the gnocco fritto, and the tortelli di zucca if it’s on the menu!
Parking is available on the street, along Viale Risorgimento right as you drive into town. Pay at the meter and put the ticket on your dash.
Trains leave Milano Centrale frequently and take about 45 minutes. (9 euros each way for the Frecciabianca- fast train, a bit cheaper for the regional train that makes several stops) The train station is a 15 minute walk from the Duomo.[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=zHEH0HKkpja4.kwKEuQkDVxgI&w=640&h=480]
You can read about my other day trips from Milan here!