Castles to send a shiver down your spine
DO YOU BELIEVE IN GHOSTS? THE SECRETS OF THE CASTLES OF THE DUCHY WILL LEAVE YOU OPEN-MOUTHED. STARTING FROM THE PROFILE OF A GIRL WITH LONG BLACK HAIR WHO IS SAID TO APPEAR AT ONE OF THE FONTANELLATO FORTRESS’ WINDOWS. LEGEND HAS IT THAT THIS IS MARIA SANVITALE, GRANDDAUGHTER OF EMPRESS MARIE LOUISE OF AUSTRIA, WHO LIVED IN THE CASTLE BEFORE SHE DIED AT THE AGE OF 5 AND A HALF AND SEEMS NEVER TO HAVE LEFT. A SIMILAR STORY IS TOLD ABOUT SORAGNA FORTRESS. DONNA CENERINA IS THE NAME OF THE GHOST WHO ROAMS AROUND THE FORTRESS WALLS. THIS IS CASSANDRA MARINONI, KILLED IN 1573 BY HER BROTHER-IN-LAW AND HER APPEARANCE IS STILL A BAD OMEN FOR THE MELI LUPI FAMILY EVEN TODAY.
Fidenza is the starting point for this 47 km itinerary through the picturesque fortresses of the Parma plains. The Shopping by Bike itinerary (route no. 9) takes you quickly to the first point of interest marked on this map. This is Santa Maria Maddalena’s Church, better known as the Chiesetta dei Templari di Toccalmatto (Toccalmatto Templars Chapel), in the village of Fontanellato. This Romanesque Catholic church was built in 1160 by the Knights Templar.
Keep going now in the direction of Fontanellato to Sanvitale Fortress, located in the centre of the village and encircled by a large moat full of water. Its rooms contain one of the masterpieces of Italian Mannerism, the room painted by Parmigianino in 1524 with the Diana and Actaeon myth. The watch tower also contains the only camera obscura in Italy still in working order. To each town its castle. A few kilometres further on and we are at Soragna Fortress, or rather the Meli Lupi Fortress, named after the family that has lived there since 1385. An imposing baroque building, it is considered by many to be one of Italy’s most attractive manor houses and the ideal sumptuous and stylish backdrop for fairy-tale weddings. We’re ready to head back towards Fidenza now, but before we bring this circular route to an end, we’ll stop in the town centre, in front of its cathedral, one of the most important Romanesque churches in the whole of Emilia Romagna. What marks out the cathedral is its crypt holding the relics of St Donnino, the town’s patron saint, and its façade with its many bas-reliefs and a number of statues attributed to artist Benedetto Antelami.
STARTING POINT/FINISHING POINT Fidenza train station
LENGTH 47 km
ALTITUDE GAIN/LOSS 35 metres
ALTITUDE PROFILE min. 40 – max. 75
ROAD SURFACE TYPE tarred road
DIFFICULTY LEVEL easy
POINTS OF INTEREST
You must have an app that opens kml files on your device, in order to view the itinerary on your phone, like for example Google Earth. The GPX files must be installed on the gps using the app given by the provider.