Situated on the Via Emilia, Fidenza is halfway between Parma and Piacenza. Under the tower of Porta S. Donnino, in front of the Cathedral, some remains of the Roman bridge that crossed the river Stirone have been discovered during excavation works. Tradition has it that St. Domninus was martyred in that place in 291 A.D. He later became the patron saint of the town, which was called “Borgo San Donnino” until 1927.
The sightseeing tour of the town starts in piazza del Duomo, the core of the medieval town, which houses the Cathedral (il Duomo) – a magnificent example of Romanesque style by Benedetto Antelami – and the tower known as Porta S. Donnino. Following via Frate Gherardo, you will reach piazza Gioberti, where you’ll find a church dedicated to St. Peter. Then, follow via Bacchini and you will arrive in piazza Giuseppe Verdi, where you can admire the Theatre dedicated to “Girolamo Magnani”. The nearby piazza Garibaldi is dominated by the Town Hall. Go on along via Berenini, where the Roman settlement developed, and where today you can admire several religious buildings such as the Palazzo delle Orsoline, which is home to the museum of the Risorgimento “Luigi Musini” and to the fossil museum (Museo dei Fossili dello Stirone). Our tour ends with a visit to the small church of Cabriolo, 3 km south of Fidenza.
Present-day Fidenza Cathedral dates back to the 12th century and is a magnificent example of First Romanesque style. lt is dedicated to Saint Domninus, whose saintly relics it houses. The building was built on a Martyrium, a small church erected in the 4th century A.D. as a shrine to the martyr. lt was then enlarged following the requests of Lombard Queen Theodelinda (7th century), of Emperor Charlemagne and of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who granted the Cathedral the status of Imperial Church in 1162.
The unfinished gabled facade is flanked by two square sandstone towers. The first one, on the right, is called “del Trabucco”; the second, on the left, is called “del Folletto” or “delle Cicogne”. The three portals are surmounted by three suspended canopies. Two lions support the entrance columns of the main portal, which is surmounted by Christ in Glory. The facade boasts stunning sculptures, namely friezes, statues and bas-reliefs carved by Benedetto Antelami and his school. The frieze that runs over the main portal depicts the story of Domninus – Emperor Maximian’s faithful manservant -, from his escape from the Emperor to his martyrdom and the first miracles in Fidenza.
The interior, a nave and two aisles, features both Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements; the semi-dome of the apse houses sculptures of Christ Enthroned between the symbols of the four Evangelists and two angels that presumably date back to the 13th century; in the lower part, a fresco depicts Christ at the Last Judgement.
The Crypt, a nave and two aisles, was renovated by Antelami’s school at the beginning of the 13th century; situated under the new altar, it houses Martyr Domninus’s remains, discovered in 1853. Fidenza’s history and its Patron Saint are deeply intertwined.
He was Emperor Maximian’s cubicularius (chamberlain), i.e. he was responsible for the Imperial Bedchamber and he was also in charge of keeping the imperial crown and putting it on his Lord’s head on ceremonial occasions. Since Domninus was Christian, he had to flee the imperial court and went to Rome with some fellows. Chased by the Emperor’s soldiers, he was captured and beheaded just outside Fidenza, nearthe river Stirone. There happened a miracle: Domninus got to his feet and crossed the river with his head in his hands; then, he laid down on the ground. The first church dedicated to him was built exactly in that piace, where his remains would later be found.
This massive crenellated tower was erected in 1364 by architect Giorgio da Como by commission from the Visconti family, who ruled Fidenza at that time.
It protected the town against attack and was also the main entrance into Fidenza for those who came horn Piacenza along the Via Emilia.
The tower is the only part left of Fidenza’s defensive wall, which was built in the 14th century by the noble family.
The Antiquarium at Casa Cremonini exhibits some of the relics and artifacts that were found during the redevelopment of Piazza Grandi and in archaeological digs in other parts of the town.
The medieval tower and the Antiquarium have been open to the public since September 2011 and they can be visited during the tourist office opening times
This theatre was built on the ruins of an ancient church dedicated to St.Francis.The works started in 1812 following the designs of neoclassical architect Nicola Bettoli. The building was inaugurated on 26th October 1861 with Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi. The internal decorations were painted by talented ornamentalist, painter and scenographer Girolamo Magnani from Fidenza, to whom the theatre is dedicated. On the occasion of the celebration of the 15Oth anniversary of the theatre in 2011, the newly restored camera acustica (“acoustic chamber”) was presented to the public. lt is a series of painted wood-framed canvas panels intended to be mounted on the stage on special occasions. The “acoustic chamber” was commissioned to Girolamo Magnani in 1871 and was discovered in the theatre at the beginning of 2010.
Museo di Rover Joe
Via Della Chiesa N.8 (quartiere La Bionda )
Phone: + 39 0524 524060
Monday to Friday from 9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Saturday from 9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
Advance reservations are required for visits at weekends
Useful Telephone Numbers
Comune di Fidenza (Switchboard) – Phone: +39 0524 517111
Ospedale di Vaio (Hospital) – Emergency 118 (Switchboard) – Phone: +39 0524 515111
Polizia Municipale Unione Terre Verdiane (local police) – Operations Centre – Phone: +39 0524 205011
Carabinieri (National Gendarmerie): 112
Vigili del fuoco (Fire Brigade): 115