Wednesday May 17, 2023


We stayed last night in an apartment close to the centre. It was clean and well-provisioned, but a bit over the top in terms of velvet draperies, sheers, masses of silk flowers, knickknacks and generic prints with inspirational quotes. But, it had a washing machine. We have clean clothes for the week.

The cool wet weather continues. We came to Italy to escape the rain in France, but it seems to have now caught up with us again. We are wearing all of our layers most days. This morning, it was raining heavily.

We moved over to our hotel, where a package of information from The Natural Adventure Company was waiting for us. The self-guided tour will follow the VF route through the Apennines, but take it over more days and our bags will be transported for us. We are looking forward to this section, just wishing the weather would improve!

The primary sight we wanted to visit in Fidenza was the Cathédrale di San Donnino. A plaque outside the cathedral describes the church as a “fine example of Romanesque art”. Dating from the 12thC, it was built on the site of the martyrdom of Saint Domninus, whose relics are housed in the Cathedral’s crypt. The interior is peaceful, simple and well-proportioned, and has not been spoilt by restoration. An organist was playing as we wandered through.

The high point of the construction of the Cathedral is represented by the work of Benedetto Antelami, an Italian architect and sculptor of the Romanesque school, around the entrance to the church and the vaults, which we spent some time gazing at.

The Cicerone guide gives a description of Antelami’s incredibly detailed and remarkably well-preserved work:

“Episodes from the Old and New Testaments are depicted along the side walls. In a sculpture between the left and center portal the apostle Simon holds a parchment showing Via Francigena pilgrims the way to Rome. Another scene, above a griffin and a capricorn, shows an angel leading a rich family of pilgrims while across from it a centaur hits a deer under a family of poor pilgrims. On the right tower a bas-relief seems to show pilgrims on the road to Rome, an image that has become iconic for the Via Francigena, though scholars generally interpret it as depicting Charlemagne returning to France”.

Palazzo Comunale
Porta di San Donnino

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