Since this is a food blog, a fitting subtitle for this post can be Locanda Mariella part II. Just in case anyone needed more convincing to schlep an hour south of Parma to the Apennine mountains. This castle, perhaps a dairy producer (Ciaolatte) and the castle of Felino can be combined with lunch at Mariella for a nice day trip. The area between the Po and the mountains surrounding Parma is in fact flooded with well preserved castles. But none of them is as intact and as remarkable as Torrechiara. The castle was built by Pier Maria Rossi, count of San Secondo, in the 15 century mainly for his mistress Bianca Pellegrini. Ok, lets pause for a second to examine this further. The count was married to Antonia Torelli, a noble woman, daughter of Count of Guastalla. He had an affair with another woman which as I understand was quite common at the time, fine. But building his mistress the greatest of all castles, and decorating each room with magnificent frescoes including that of her (Blue ceiling below)?. The dude had power! I had to ask permission to throw out the garbage this evening.
The castle is perched on a hill and offers sweeping valley views. A hill whose height I overestimated a bit as I drove way past it until we found the castle again and coincidentally one of the best kodak moments ever in Italy (top shot). It was all by design, I told Mrs Ziggy. Once inside the castle the main draw is all the various theme frescoes decorating each room. Some of the most important rooms are Camera d’Oro (golden chamber) the tribute to Bianca Pellegrini, and Salone dei Acrobati showcasing, you guessed it, naked acrobats.