The Val Tidone, between nature and archaeology

The Val Tidone valley is rich in historical and natural places of interest. From the dwarf prickly pears in Val Chiarone to the archaeological digs near Piana di San Martino, the mills along the Tidone river and many other little gems to be discovered when walking. Trekking on foot is one of the best ways to discover our area thanks to the invaluable work carried out in recent years by the Italian Alpine Club, which has signposted and maintained several paths that go through our woods and mountain ridges. You can ask the Italian Alpine Club directly for a map of routes in the Val Tidone.

The excavations in Piana di San Martino are in the area under the municipality of Pianello Val Tidone, on a rocky headland in Val Chiarone on the way- to the Rocca d’Olgisio. The continuous excavation works carried out here are gradually unearthing an interesting and complex settlement. The oldest traces of inhabitation found refer to the protohistoric period and bear witness to the existence of a settlement of a community of herder-farmers, where fragments of strainers attest to the processing of milk and whorls, spools and loom weights are evidence of spinning and weaving. Most of the finds are made up of pottery, mainly destined for preparing and preserving food, and the variety of shapes and decorations allows us to put forward a chronological placement from the middle Bronze Age to the third Iron Age, from the sixteenth to the second century BC. Particularly important is the discovery of a virtually intact marble column and a series of tools, mainly in iron, ascribable to the forge of a Lombard blacksmith.

Today, several finds are kept in the Archaeological Museum in Pianello Val Tidone, where you can also see fragments of history from the whole valley, such as the sarcophagus found in Vicomarino and finds from the burial site in Ganaghello and the villa in Arcello.

On the state road going towards Monte Penice, after Nibbiano, you come to the Molato dam. This spectacular dam, with multiple arches and buttresses made entirely from reinforced concrete, was finished in 1928. It is 55 metres high from the foundations and 180 metres wide (322 metres including the side structures). It has created the artificial reservoir called Trebecco Lake, where you can do clay pigeon shooting and attend the sailing school.

What is interesting following the course of the Tidone river, “Mill road”, are the numerous old watermills that rose up along the river and which are partly open to the public today. We particularly recommend the Lentino Mill and the Rizzo Mill.

And after visiting the area during the hours of sunlight, all that remains to do is to finish off our itinerary with a glance at the starry sky. In Lazzarello di Costalta in the municipality of Pecorara, there is the observatory of the Piacenza Amateur Astronomers’ Group, which you can visit and use by appointment.