The Giuseppe Verdi Tour with Food Valley is an intriguing and entertaining way to spend a half or full day when staying in or near Parma.
The day after having our Food Valley Almost Local Tour of Parma, Mum and I were again ready to explore a little further afield with Food Valley.
Disclosure: my mother and I were hosted for a day tour with Food Valley including highlights of Giuseppe Verdi’s life. We were also hosted at Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati, courtesy of Emilia Romagna Tourism during our stay in Parma.
Before meeting our tour guide, Daniela, from Food Valley, Mum and I had lovely, light breakfast at TCafè in the Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati which was included with our stay.
Giuseppe Verdi Tour
We met Daniela in the lobby and jumped in our rental car to drive to Le Roncole, the first stop on our Giuseppe Verdi tour to learn about the life of “Il Maestro”. Daniela felt like an old friend so we got off to a great start! On the off chance that you’ve never heard of him, Giuseppe Verdi was a very talented and famous Italian composer known for his operas.
Le Roncole is a tiny village about a half an hour’s drive from the city center of Parma, and is where Giuseppe Verdi was born.
Daniela gave us a wonderful background on Verdi’s earliest days and didn’t just state facts, like his birthdate, but told us stories about his childhood. Incidentally, Verdi was born on October 10th, 1813.
Daniela explained that the priest at the local church, which is a stone’s throw from Verdi’s house, was the first person to spot his musical talent.
Verdi began playing the organ at San Michele Arcangelo and eventually was paid to be the church organist at the tender age of 8 years. The church was open, so we went inside and saw where Verdi was baptized and the organ he played! It was fabulous to see!
Next, we were off to Busseto, where Giuseppe Verdi attended school when he was 10 years old. He would walk the almost three and a half miles between his home in Le Roncole to Busseto.
Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, Busseto
Daniela gave us the interesting background on the Giuseppe Verdi theatre.
Apparently, when plans were being made to build it, Verdi opposed, claiming it would be too expensive and unused. The small opera house is located inside the Rocca dei Marchesi Pallavicino where another theatre used to be housed. Although he was against it, Verdi donated 10,000 lire towards its construction and had his own box.
Verdi never stepped foot inside the theatre. He didn’t even attend his two operas on opening night when all the attendees worn green in his honor. The reason they wore green? “Verdi” in Italian means green. What makes this even more shocking is that he was at his home only two miles away at the time!
Daneila, Mum and I were quite fortunate because when we toured the theatre, there was either a competition or auditions happening. We heard two or three young ladies singing their hearts out!
Mum and I really enjoyed the tour of the theatre, and we also got to see a bit of Busseto, too. As we walked, Daniela filled us in on more of Verdi’s life, including his personal losses. Verdi lost two children when they were infants, within a year of each other. Shortly afterwards, Verdi’s wife died at 26 years of age. He was devastated, as one could imagine.
We left Busseto to next drive to Villa Verdi where he lived until his death in 1901.
Villa Verde, Villanova sull’Arda
It was absolutely a marvelous experience to be able to visit Verdi’s villa and home where he lived for over 50 years. I loved that the lawn furniture is still there. In fact, we saw a photo inside of Verdi and Giuseppina Strepponi, his second wife, sitting on this exact furniture.
We first explored the outdoor areas, some of which looked like a massive park, or forest. Giuseppe Verdi and Giuseppina Strepponi were constantly adding to the gardens. They planted many trees; over 100 varieties are on the estate.
There is an ice house on property which Daniela took us to see.
The pond was such a serene spot. Verdi used to take his boat onto it and Daniela recounted a story about how Verdi once saved Giuseppina. Apparently, she fell into the water wearing a big dress which could have ended very badly.
We saw Verdi’s wine making area, carriage house and also some parts of the interior of the home.
Inside Villa Verdi
Sadly, no photos are permitted inside, so you’ll have to go for yourself to see the amazing artifacts and furniture that is there. Hint: his scarf and top hat from one of his most famous images are there!
Another really interesting feature of this tour is the room which as been fitted to look as it did when Giuseppe Verdi died in it from the Grand Hotel in Milan. He suffered a stroke while staying there and died within a week. He is buried at a rest home he created for musicians, Casa di Riposo, which was one of his philanthropic deeds, amongst others. Casa di Riposo means House of Rest.
I would highly recommend taking this tour! Even if you’re not a Verdi fan, you will be by the end of the day.
As an aside, on the property there was a gregarious peacock who did his darnedest to try to make us open the door to let him in! You can see him peeking through the door, and in the third shot, he’s either posing like Hitchcock or it’s Mission Impossible! 😂
Soon we were off to our final part of the tour and for lunch: Antica Corte Pallavicina. However, just before going down the drive, we were sidetracked by~
La Chiesetta della Madonnina del Po
That big long name translates to, Little Church of the Little Madonna of the Po (as in the Po River). Essentially, because the Po River has a history of massive floods, the people of the region built lots of churches and little chapels to thank the Madonna.
Every time they’d pray for the waters to recede, when they did, they’d build another chapel. The tower at the back of the church is a miniature replica of La Torrazza di Cremona (Cremona Tower)
Directly in front of us was this view; the entrance to Antica Corte Pallavicina and so much more.
Stay tuned for the second part of this marvelous day trip from Parma. Daniela takes us to visit Antica Corte Pallavicina and learn all about culatello, and more!
To see a quick clip of my Instagram story from this tour, CLICK HERE.
Looking for more information on this Food Valley tour or other fabulous tours in the Emilia Romagna region? Here you go, and tell them Christina sent you!
You may have the universe if I may have Italy.
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