The ‘Bassa Parmense’, or lowlands of Parma, is a strip of flat land, approximately 15 km wide, in the province of Parma on the south side of the Po river, which offers visitors a land with a rich heritage of traditions and tastes.
A land of famous figures, from the composer Giuseppe Verdi, to the writer Giovannino Guareschi, who created Don Camillo and Peppone, it also provided the natural backdrop for the film “1900” by director Bernardo Bertolucci, who filmed it in one of the area’s characteristic farmyards.
There are so many places to see in the area and countless reasons for visiting, from food and wine to art and nature, with a great diversity of bird species in the river and wetland habitats.
A land of water, where the river flows majestically past flood plains and sandbars and where the Po, with its tranquil, slow progress, sets the pace and rhythm of life for the local population and dictates the foggy winters that typically shroud the Po plain. This is fertile, mostly agricultural land, where the main activities revolve around working the land and pork meat processing; pork reigns supreme in local cuisine, from ‘cotechino’ sausage to ‘spalla cotta’ cooked shoulder, from salame to “his majesty” Culatello di Zibello. The particular climatic conditions with thick fog, damp, still air and relatively constant temperatures that are rarely bitterly cold, guarantee the perfect ageing conditions for the “king of cured meats”, Culatello, produced with the muscular part of pigs’ hind legs.
The biodiversity of the great river represents an ideal natural habitat for numerous aquatic bird species that like wetland climates: the area attracts various species of heron, widgeon, greylag goose, mallard (among the most numerous species), common pochard, northern lapwing, Eurasian woodcock and many others. The river’s humid ecosystem is also characterised by thick vegetation that includes poplars and various species of willow that grow along the Po riverbanks.
For cycling enthusiasts, there is the Ciclopista Bici Parma Po, a cycle route along the main embankment; the path is approximately 50 km long and runs through several municipalities from Polesine Parmense to Mezzani. Pedalling alongside the water, you can truly get a feel for the “great river” and the route is also suitable for trekking, MTB and racing bikes (bike hire available locally).
INFO www.appenninoeverde.it/sport section on cycle paths in the Parma lowlands
On the way back, after a visit to the fluvial land and the Museum of Culatello in Polesine Parmense, there are many places that are worth visiting:
The romani cathedral in Fidenza, the ancient parish church in Cabriolo and the Zen Temple Fudenji in Bargone.
June brings the traditional festival “Festa del Culatello” PDO, while in November there is the food and wine local fair “November Porc... speriamo ci sia la nebbia!” an itinerant pork products festival in the Parma lowlands area.
From May until October, motorboat trips are available on the Po river, setting off from Boretto (Reggio Emilia).
Museum of Culatello and Masalén (Polesine Zibello)
Along the Via Francigena, the beautiful Cathedral of Fidenza, dedicated to St. Donnino, dates back to the 12th century and is a splendid example of Romanesque Emilia-Lombardo.
Cabriolo Parish Church - Fidenza
Walking on the Via Francigena – Places of the spirit and soul.
Soto Zen "Shobozan Fudenji" Temple
Buddhist Zen "Shobozan Fudenji" Temple of Soto School was founded in 1984