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Brescello

Brescello

The Town

Among the documents retained by the “Museum Peppone and don Camillo”, there is also a poem written by Narciso Campioni, a tourist struck by the simplicity of the place. The poem, nicely written and with no literary ambition, introduces us to the atmosphere of this small town in the province of Reggio Emilia. Here is “Brescello identity card”:

In the Po plain there is Brescello,
small and quiet village,
that looks like the painting of a good artist;
it reminds us of Peppone and Don Camillo
who, with their amusing movies,
gave fame and prestige to the village.

A small museum shows us
their stories in a suggestive way,
through photos and objects;
the tank and the locomotive
attract the curious and the tourist
and conquer both of them immediately.

It was of gallic- roman origin ,
but evidence is given of its more ancient origins;
and after the Po fury,
it arduously recovered ;
it had a harbour on the river, and good times,
but then it was sacked by the marauders.

Between Parma and Mantova, it is near the Po river,
where the Enza stream has its mouth;
then its life developed here,
until today, speedier and speedier.
Few inhabitants, good economy,
there is a lot of peace and cleanness.

There are farms, there is good wine,
small factories, food firms;
“Pasquino” statue says hello to us
and even the church, the square and other dear places.
I’m deeply affected and, only passing,
give to Brescello my due regards.

(Brescello, 6 June 1994)

 

 

Historical outline

The origins of Brescello date back to the prehistoric period, as demonstrated by the finds discovered in Ravisa di San Genesio and Motta Balestri. But the first sedentary people who settled in this area were the Galli Cenomani, of the Cimbrian race. They gave the territories they conquered in the Po Valley the name of Brixellum.

About the year 220 b.C. Brescello was conquered by the Roman consul Quinto Manlio and about 190-189 b.C., as mentioned by Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia (III, 15, 115), it became a Roman colony. The territory became centurial and was assigned to the families of the Arnense tribe, coming from Lazio. Brescello was considered a strategic and economically important place, as from there it was possible to control a key place along the course of the river.

In the first century b.C. the territory of Brescello grew considerably larger, becoming a rich and densely-populated town, the seat of magistracy and guilds, with its own forum, an aqueduct and the port on the Po river. After the crisis of the Roman Empire, starting from the third century a.D., the town slowly declined, and in 227 a.D., was sacked and left in ruin by a gang of marauders.
In spite of the politico-economical crisis, Brescello was named as bishop’s seat in the year 389 a.D. (the first bishop was Genesio, the present patron saint of the town).

In 572 the town was occupied by Longobards and they raised the territory’s status to that of a dukedom. Between VI and VII century Brescello was involved in an exhausting dispute that interposed the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna against the Barbarian Potentates who invaded Padania. The troops led by the longobard king Agilulfo (in the year 603) and some devastating inundations (in the year 589 and around 605-610) almost completely razed the town, turning it to a layer of mud and sand. And so the Gallic-Roman Brixellum ceased to exist.

In the first half of XII century Brixillum rose again at first as a medieval castle defending and controlling the river traffic, and then as seat of important monastic orders, as for example the Benedictines.

In the XII century Brescello was politically dependent from Parma, while in the following centuries the history of the town reflects the alternation of the various Seigniories: the Correggeschi, the Rossi, the Visconti, the Sforza, until the Estensi in the year 1479.

The bloody battles in order to conquer predominance of the town induced the Estensi plan to build pentagonal walls with a moat, making Brescello a fortified town (the new town was defined “Herculean”, in honour of the Este duke Ercole II). In 1704 the walls and the fortress of Brescello were destroyed by the Spaniards and the town sank once more into anonymity for more than a century. The Este government continued until 1861, when Brescello, together with other towns of Reggio Emilia, became part of the Reign of Italy.

 

Brescello today

Brescello is one of those small and medium villages of the Southern Reggio Emilia province, overlooking the right side of the Po river: Boretto, Gualtieri, Guastalla e Luzzara. A 20 kilometre-long territory, characterised by an intense tourist-fluvial activity based on the tourist Port of Boretto, situated at the middle of the navigable strip of the river.

Brescello, about 20 kilometres far from Parma and 30 from Reggio Emilia, is constituted by three places: the chief town with approximately 5000 inhabitants and the hamlets of Lentigione and Sorbolo a Levante, that extend, westward, towards the province of Parma.

The economy of the town reflects that of the Southern Reggio Emilia province: one of the most prosperous agricultural sectors in Italy, whose development has been favoured by the presence of many watercourses, first of all the Po, and by some reclamations made during the centuries (by the Benedictines in the Middle Ages, by the Estensi in the Renaissance and also in the republican Italy until the middle of ‘900).
The zootechnic activity, above all linked to swine-breeding, and the whole food sector are well developed. From the cold meats and salami (the most exquisite of whom is Culatello) to the cheese (we cannot avoid mentioning Parmigiano-Reggiano), the food in the region is exquisite, especially when accompanied by a good glass of wine, (Lambrusco of course).

In the second post-war period the industrial sector, linked to the mechanical and engineering industry, developed more and more. Besides a limited number of big companies, a lot of small and medium companies have been created, some of them characterized by absolutely excellent services.

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Arms of Brescello

 

Brochure of Brescello

 

Church of Santa Maria Nascente

 

Don Camillo's Bar

 

Monument to "Ercole Benefattore" by Jacobo Tatti, called "Il Sansovino"

 

Cultural center of San Benedetto
 
Dusk at Brescello

 

Outskirts of Brescello
 

The book of the Brescello story
 
Brescello from clouds
Po river

Sluices of water of Brescello at Enza river

 

Some typical products