Liberate the air

On a Sunday afternoon in Roncole in 2008, these cyclists started gathering in the square just across the street from Verdi’s birth house, in front of the Church of San Michele Arcangelo (Saint Michael the Archangel) to demonstrate in favor of cycling and clean air.

On this “ecological Sunday” several cities in this northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna closed off their streets to automobiles, and all over the region cyclists gathered to “swarm out” on their bikes to promote non-polluting forms of transportation.

The cyclists were wearing signs reading “Liberate the air. Sixth bicycle swarm 2008.”

A poster in Busseto announcing the campaign “Liberiamo l’aria”.

Cycling from Cremona to Busseto

By chance (or intuition or dumb luck or whatever), I found a very good cycling route from Cremona to Busseto, a distance of seventeen kilometers as the crow flies, but maybe twenty-five or so if you take the car-free route along the dike parallel to the River Po.

I will describe this route in more detail when I get around to writing about Cremona. Suffice it to say here that the last part of the route takes you south from a place called Ongina, where Verdi used to raise horses, straight along the Ongina stream to Villa Verdi, and from there to Busseto.

Cycling to the Verdi sites

A bicycle is the ideal form of transportation to visit all the Verdi sites, some of which are a few kilometers outside of town in one direction or another. The Busseto Municipal Council has recognized this and has put up bicycle route signs pointing to the major sites and to attractive areas in the surrounding countryside.

Bicycle route to Verdi’s birth house in Roncole.

This is my nomination for the world’s shortest bicycle and pedestrian path, about eight meters long. It cuts off a corner on the way to Roncole Verdi — perhaps to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being squashed by right-turning motor vehicles? (Or is there some other reason that I have not understood?)

Trains to Busseto

If for some reason you didn’t want to go by bicycle, you could also take a train from Cremona to Busseto along this single-track electrified line, which by the way was built during Verdi’s lifetime and was carefully planned to avoid crossing any of his land holdings north of Busseto. The journey from Cremona to Busseto takes anywhere from 18 to 27 minutes, and there are trains every hour or two during the day. After stopping at Busseto, the same train goes on to Fidenza and Parma.

Busseto railroad station

The railroad station in Busseto is located at the western edge of the town at the end of a street called Viale Pallavicino, which is the continuation of the main street Via Roma. The departure schedule lists thirty trains per day, going either north to Cremona or south to Fidenza, with a few direct connections to places further away.

The photos in this post are from my visit to Busseto in March 2008. The text was last revised in 2017.

 

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