Castell’Arquato is an Italian town located on the first hills of Val D’Arda in Emilia-Romagna of the province of Piacenza, approximately 30 km from Piacenza and 35 km from Parma. Places nearby include Bacedasco, Vigolo Marchese, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Lugagnano Val d’Arda, and Vernasca.
A Medieval town of traditional structure which has maintained its appearance as it was in the early 10th century, the Old Town of Castell’Arquato is a high rock which in other times was strategically important for dominating the valley, now surrounded by the village.
The monumental center of Castell’Arquato is represented by the square in the high section of the town and is a wide area dominated by the Rocca.
The origins of Castell’Arquato are uncertain. It is believed originally it was a Roman military settlement (castrum). During the Roman Imperial Era it developed into a small rural town, thanks to its favourable dominance of the routes from Piacenza and Parma toward the Ligurian sea (Liguria is at the end of the Piacenza valleys).
The first historical news concerning Castell’Arquato (known as la Pieve) appear in the 8th century. Castell’Arquato seems to have been constructed by a “noble and powerful Domini named Magno.” Magno built the squared based castle and a church “In honor Mater Dei” (756-758).
At that time Castell’Arquato had a military (Castrum) and an agricultural organisation (Curtis), the Justice Administration (Curia) and the Religious Administration (Pieve).
Before dying in 789 Magno gave the town, the church of Santa Maria and its goods to the bishop of Piacenza, and Castell’Arquato acquired an important freedom as a Pieve. With Magno’s donation, Castell’Arquato was now under the dominion of the Bishop of Piacenza.
Its structure has led to appearances in movies such as Ladyhawke with Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer. Opera librettist Luigi Illica, most renowed for his long collaboration with composer Giacomo Puccini and author of the libretti of such operas as Tosca, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly and Andrea Chenier was born in the bourgh in 1857.
Castell’Arquato is also in the area of the Colli Piacentini (Piacenza Hills), an important area for wine production. The most important wines produced in the Colli Piancentini are Gutturnio, Bonarda, Ortrugo, Malvasia, and Monterosso Val d’Arda.