Named 'pleasant place' (Placentia) by the Romans, Piacenza soon proved itself to be an important strategic location as well. Just short of the regional border with Lombardy, the contemporary city is day-trip fodder, though there are some decent hotels if you've been priced out of Parma. Its picturesque centre reveals a beautiful Gothic town hall and a couple of august churches.
Piacenza destination guides
Francigena Way: Pavia to Parma
Take the Via Emilia from Pavia to Parma, past fields of wheat and corn and cities and towns housing architectural jewels