More than 2.200 years old and still looking good
Piacenza was born as a Roman fronteer colony in 218 B.C.
The foundation of the first core of the city dates back to 218 B.C., when 6,000 Roman colonists settled in “Placentia”, leaving clear marks of the existence of the city plan, as revealed by the square plan.
The colony was first attacked during the second Punic war by Hannibal, with the bloody Battle on the river Trebbia. During the Republican and Imperial ages Piacenza became an important Muncipium and a flourishing river harbour and, from 187 B.C. , it became the main landmark along the Via Emilia, an important way at the slopes of the Apennines, aiming to join in Rimini the Via Flaminia, thus reaching Rome.
Antonino, Roman centurion spread the Christian religion in the area at the beginning of the 4th century, was martyred and became the patron Saint of the city, which dedicated to him a beautiful Basilica.
During the Middle Ages the city was ransacked several times and it surrendered to the Barbarian domination; it was subsequently involved in the war between Goth invaders and The Eastern Roman troops.
Located along the Old Via Francigena, Piacenza was demographically, culturally and economically reborn around the year 1000 , thanks to its strategic position close to important ways of communication coming from the Alps, thus allowing the flow of merchants and pilgrims.
In times of feudalism and Count Bishops, next to the Nobles, a rich class of Merchants and Craftsmen was born, with an ever growing financial power which would transform the city, in the following centuries, into one of the most important centres in Europe.
At the end of the year 1000 the support to the Pope became stronger and stronger, and Pope Urbano II announced here the First Crusade to free the Holy Land.(1095).
The city became a free Municipality in 1126 and joined the Lombard League against Frederick Barbarossa, who signed here, in S.Antonino Church, the preliminary agreements for the peace of Konstanz (1183).
In the 12th and 13th centuries trading increased, namely the production of fabrics as well as agriculture and economy with the currencies Fair.
The city grew rich in churches and monasteries, often supplied with hostels.
The two symbols of the city were built in this period: first the Duomo (1122), later Palazzo Gotico (1281). The Middle ages in Piacenza were characterised by a series of fierce fights and frequent changes in supremacy. Since the second half of of the 13th century the territory was ruled by several families until, in 1545, Papa Paolo III Farnese converted into Duchy the cities of Parma and Piacenza; the appointed ruler was his son Pier Luigi, the first of the eight Farnese Dukes who would govern the city until 1731.
The successors of the Farnese house were the Borbone, until their departure in 1859.
Yet, for many years the Duchy was dominated by several rulers, namely the Austrian, the French, the Napoleonic rule as well as that of Marie Louise of Austria (1816- 1847), who headed a sort of enlit government for the city and the country-side: the duchess reclaimed wide territories, had bridges built over the rivers Trebbia and Nure and carried out school and arts initiatives.
A referendum on 10th May 1848 proclaimed Piacenza as the first Italian city demanding to be annexed to the future Italian kingdom, still known as Sardinian Kingdom at the time; it was thus awarded the name of « » (Italy’s first born) – which it still boasts. In 1891, the first Italian Labour Chamber was created here, an attempt of workers to protect and emancipate themselves.
Many soldiers form Piacenza were involved in the two World Wars, and, unfortunately, many of them died; as a result of this, in 1996 the Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro awarded the city with the medaglia d'oro al valor militare (Purple heart) for its commitment in the fight against the Nazist dictatorship.
Oct 20, 2016 - Dec 05, 2014