Just beyond Parma, set in the characteristic lowlands where Maestro Giuseppe Verdi was born and where he fuelled his talent, Busseto and le Roncole are a vital part of an extraordinary journey dedicated to lovers of art, culture, music, history and the countryside as well as of top quality food and wine products.
Busseto is to be found between the Ducal city and the great river Po. Along the provincial road which leads from le Roncole, a small village a short distance from Busseto, to Soragna, can be found the significant birth house of Giuseppe Verdi. The visit here is characterized by an innovative and meaningful multimedial experience in which the voice of the great Maestro as a young boy takes the visitor through the rooms of the house telling his own story. Nearby can be found the Church of St. Michael Archangel where Verdi was baptized and where still today can be seen the organ which Verdi learned to play as a young boy guided by the local priest, Pietro Baistrocchi. Parma Incoming will organize concerts on this extraordinary instrument for music enthusiasts.
The testimonials to Verdi are equally significant in Busseto itself, starting with Casa Barezzi where Verdi lived with his wife Margherita Barezzi daughter of Antonio, who had been the first to recognize and nurture the young Verdi’s aptitude for music. The house is now a museum which conserves autographed letters, iconographic documents, original portraits and other precious items of memorabilia including the pianoforte which Verdi used to play; M. Riccardo Muti, honorary citizen of Busseto, has always refused to play this instrument out of respect for its sacrality.
Piazza Verdi , where the bronze monument of Verdi seated is placed, is in front of the house and opposite is the XIII century fortified rocca once residence of the Pallavicino family and now seat of both the local Municipality and the XVIII century Verdi Theatre which hosts prestigious concerts, shows and cultural events all year round. This significant casket like theatre also hosts important events during the Festival Verdi, an international musical ‘must’ for Verdi enthusiasts. Parma Incoming follows this major event every year organizing unforgettable opera tours.
In Busseto visitors can also spend time at the new Renata Tebaldi Museum dedicated to the soprano whom Arturo Toscanini described as having ‘ the voice of an angel’. The museum is set in the former stables of the Villa Pallavicino and stands as an homage to Italian melodrama. The presence of the great artist is significant yet discreet, entrusted to her costumes and jewels, to the documents and stories of a past yet fascinating epoch. How can we ignore the renaissance Villa Pallavicino itself, once the summer residence of the family and now seat of the National Giuseppe Verdi Museum? The ample rooms contain a wealth of works from reproductions of the original scenery from Casa Ricordi to paintings of the period and precious material from the XIX century.
Strolling through the streets of this small market town with expert musicologists, the life and work of Giuseppe Verdi brings further locations to notice. Of particular interest is the XV century Collegiata Church of St. Bartolomeo constructed between 1437 and 1450 at the behest of Orlando Pallavicino and the nearby Oratorio of the Santissima Trinità where in 1836 Verdi married Marghrita Barezzi. The Monte di Pietà, founded by the Franciscan Order and the Pallavicino family in 1537, had as one of its obligations the maintenance of the music school where Verdi himself studied. Also the Gothic church Santa Maria degli Angeli, which Verdi attended as a young boy and where he held a well attended organ concert.
Continuing our journey, just a few minutes away from Busseto and already in the provincial area of Cremona, can be found Villa Sant’Agata which Maestro Verdi bought for his parents and where he spent many years with his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi. Surrounded by a large park in the ‘romantic’ style, the house still conserves the original furniture and furnishings, rare photographs, portraits, autographs of Manzoni and the musical library as well as many other highly evocative objects. It was here that Verdi composed two of his masterpieces, Rigoletto and La Traviata, bringing to life through his music the inspiration he received from nature.
An itinerary through the Verdi Homelands is enlivened by the numerous events and manifestations which take place. First amongst equals is the International Competition to find a true Verdi voice, Voci Verdiane Città di Busseto, which brings together young talent and can boast the presence of significant figures from the world of music on the jury. The keenly anticipated production of Rigoletto to be staged from 23 April to 29 May 2016 will feature artists who took part in the 53rd edition of the Verdi Voice competition. There are many initiatives which take place throughout the year in the Verdi homelands, from the many concerts and musical events with prestigious international performers, to the theatre programme taking in the various activities associated with agriculture such as “ Il Maiale in Tavola “, the colourful celebration of the market garden and the Busseto Carneval which merrily ‘invades’ the town in January and February. For a full calendar of events kindly consult the web site www.bussetolive.com.
Last but by no means least, the excellent wine and food products of this area. Busseto is a stop on the wine and food tours which take the visitor from the Via Emilia to the Po, from Parma to Colorno, offering exclusive tastings of the highly prized Culatello di Zibello as well as of the King of Cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the less well-known but equally prized cooked shoulder of ham from San Secondo, one of Maestro Verdi’s favourite dishes. In the simple trattorie and Osterie of this area, amongst the fog, the perfumes and the colours of the lowlands, the visitor can really breathe that Verdi atmosphere which Parma Incoming knows how to impart through customized, tailor made tours. Parma Incoming collaborates with the best the market can offer whether it be a Hotel de Charme, a special lodging house, an historical residence, a former agricultural farmstead or a farm stay itself, depending on client choice. The visitor can follow the life of the composer and the extraordinary story of Italian melodrama by bike, constantly in touch with nature. Along the river Po can also be found the market town of Brescello where Don Camillo and Peppone fought it out in ‘The Little World of Don Camillo’ written by Giovannino Guareschi , who was also from this area and where can be found several museums dedicated to the author and his little world.
Everything in the Verdi Homelands evokes the life and work of the composer whose works are most often represented throughout the world. A magical place, cultural crossroad between Milan and Bologna, near Piacenza and Cremona; an ideal destination for a journey which will bring visitors into contact with people who live and breathe this immense artistic heritage on a daily basis and who will be only too happy to share it. You too can share this unique experience with the help of Parma Incoming.