Italian Vacations: The Mushroom Road


mush3For all those want to spend their Vacations in Italy and love the Italian art history and genuine food, we suggest an unusual, but interesting gourmet tour: “The Mushroom Road”.  It is a real step back in the deep Middle Ages, rich of the flavors and intense aromas of wild mushrooms and genuine cuisine.

This full day tour is located in the province of Parma, it can be easily added in your tour of Italy as a day excursion from Genoa, Portofino, Cinque Terre, or from the Northern Tuscany towns such as Pisa , Lucca, Massa, Pistoia, Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio.

The route starts from the small village of Berceto, one of the oldest villages of  the Emilia region, it use to be the last major stop along the “Via Francigena” ( the ancient Pilgrim route from France to Rome) before crossing the mountains and reaching Tuscany. We suggest a nice walking tour of the historical city center of Berceto with cobbled streets, decorated portals, stone houses and a visit of the Romanesque cathedral dedicated to St. Moderanno, dating from the twelfth century.

For lovers of hiking and wild nature Berceto is also great starting point for excursions to the nearby Park of “Cento Laghi” (hundred lakes).

The Mushroom Road begins its journey along the provincial road 523. This is in fact the kingdom of the Mushroom Borgotaro a local special protected mushroom part of the porcini family.

The Road continues through the woods and valleys in the Parma area , between evocative and breathtaking views.  On your drive you will pass Roccaprebalza, an ancient village with the ruins of a castle, to the well preserved medieval village of Corchia, where the miners used to live here extracting iron and copper from the mountain.

The itinerary of your Italian Vacations continues descending into the valley of the river Taro , until you reach Borgo Val di Taro , capital of the valley and the capital of the porcini mushroom . “Borgo” as the locals call it, is  a town built  inside ancient walls. These walls protected the town that was strategically  located and ws the subject of continuous  historical disputes .

mush2We suggest a visit of the church of the patron St. Antoninus, the prestigious Palazzo Tadiani and the Via Nazionale.  Also worth a visit is the Palazzo Boveri with its eighteenth-century style stuccos and frescoes. The castle was built ​​in 1714 and is where Elizabeth Farnese married Philip V of Spain.

For experienced licensed mushroom pickers there are many paths in the surrounding woods where you can make a leisurely hike totally immersed in nature.  For less experienced mushroom lovers, you can more easily enjoy the genuine local food in one of the restaurants in the village. Their cuisine is the result of a perfect mix between the traditions of the nearby Parma, Liguria and Tuscany.

In the afternoon continue the route to Compiano, once a military sentinel of the valley with a medieval castle and surrounding village on top of a hill overlooking and controlling  whole valley.

Going up the narrow, cobbled streets of the village, you can admire medieval tower-houses and palaces still with coats of arms on the doors and the beautiful church of St. John the Baptist.

Inside the Compiano castle there are two nice museums: the Raimondi Collection from the last owner of the castle and  “Orizzonti Massonici” the only Masonic Museum of Italy.  In the museum there are documents, Masonic bulletins of the various European countries, ancient rituals, tapestries, ritual jewelry, cameos, aprons, collars, seals, scarves, garments of various ages, paintings decorated objects of common use such as rings, pendants , cuff links , tie pins brooches , walking sticks: 841 pieces that tell history of the Italian, Anglo-Saxon and French masonry.