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Art, Culture and History

The Taro Valley has an ancient history which dates back even to Paleolithic and Mesolithic as witnessed by the finds kept within the archaeological museum in the Seminario Vescovile of Bedonia. Many experts state also the presence of Ligurians not only in the Taro Valley, but also in the surroundings like the Vara and Magra Valley.

The Ligurians, after a long settlement and a 80-year-long resistance war, had to yield and abandon the conquered territories to the Romans (157 b.C.). With the fall of the Roman Empire (568), the Longobards came to occupy the valley and began building important abbeys along the trans-Apennine ways. One of the most meaningful examples is the Saint Columban monastery which, even though it is located in Bobbio (PC), is undoubtedly linked to the local history.

In fact, the Taro Valley was a crucial strategic area both from the religious and cultural point of view as it was crossed by two important routes: the Via Francigena or Via Romea, which linked Canterbury to Rome, and the Abbots Way, which snaked from Bobbio to Pontremoli. This latter was usually walked by the abbots to reach Rome.

Some prestigious architectural works witness the presence of the Longobards: the saint Moderan Dome in Berceto dates back to the XII century but it was built on the ruins of an ancient monastery (719).

The Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta in Fornovo Taro has an ancient history which is testified by the Romanesque style both of the building and the works of art. The several monasteries located in the Taro and Ceno Valleys had not only a purely religious function, but they served as downright “administration bodies”. The situation changed with rise of great feudal families like Malaspina, Landi, Visconti, Sforza, Doria and Farnese. The Landi family played a crucial role for the valley as they founded a wide state (Principato di Valditaro) which was afterwards sold to the Farnese family.

It was just the presence of these latter which led to the building of palaces, monuments and the famous Porta Farnese located in Borgo Val di Taro.

Bas-relief upon the door of the Dome of Berceto
Bas-relief upon the door of the Dome in Berceto

In 1805 the states belonging to Parma were annexed to the French Empire until Napoleon’s fall.

They were part of the Ducato di Parma e Piacenza until the  death of Marie-Lousie of Austria and then they became territories of the Regno d’Italia.

The great history of the Taro Valley is witnessed by the great range of works of art like churches, fortresses, castles, columns, portals, coats of arms and chapels. Moreover, a crucial aspect of this land is the presence of rare raw materials like ophiolite, the red jasper, the dark basalt stone, the sandstone e, last but not least the Carniglia stone.

All these characteristics makes the Taro Valley a land which is worth being visited through art, history and culture.