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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bologna – Parma

Friday 24th August
Temperature top 40°

After a lovely breakfast at the hotel, we set off for Parma, looking for ‘The Big Cheese’ and to see if we could find Montichielo where the Masterchef team were on their Italy tour. Unfortunately we didn’t find either of the above but we got off the autostrada and experienced some lovely countryside. Cornfields and very spent sunflower crops. Narrow streets but not much traffic. We followed the signs to Monticchio and then on to two castles. Along steep, narrow winding roads we found Castello di Rossena and then up to Castello di Canossa. Neither were open to the public but we had fabulous views 360°. A quick lunch stop at Canossa – drinks and pastries and we set off for Parma. The GPS couldn’t find the address of the cheese factory  (address in the travel book was incomplete)and took us up narrow roads and convinced that we were nowhere near where we needed to be we decided to set off to Busseto. The area where Giuseppe Verdi grew up. We were not disappointed and had a private tour of the Teatro Verdi – a 300 seat theatre which was very impressive. It is used for an opera season every October and during the year for other concerts, plays etc. Interestingly Verdi donated £10,000 towards the building, had a private box but never attended an opera there. In Piazza Verdi there was a hive of activity as Rigoletto was being performed outside in the evening, apparently an annual event and all seats were sold out. Chairs were set, food being prepared and the stage & lighting all happening in 40° heat. Even the locals were hoping for a cooler change. As part of our visit we also saw around the Casa Barezzi, (recitals are still held once a month) where Verdi grew up and then drove on to Roncoli Verdi to Casa Natale di Giuseppe Verdi (The home where Verdi was born) Having seen Aida in Verona, I think we have now had our cultural fill. We left the area and returned home via the autostrada and saw the back of the Barillo pasta factory from the A1. The air conditioning was working very well in the car and we arrived back at the hotel at about 6.45pm.

We haven’t seen  many information areas but we did find the one in Bussett which was great. Two young ladies between them spoke little English but we were able to have a reasonable conversation and have our questions answered.

Views from Castella di Rossena

Castella di Rossena
Castella di Canossa

Busseto- setting up for Rigoletto in the open
Verdi monument in Piazza Verdi, Bussett

Busseto main street

Verdi's birthplace

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