The place where the Stallone dairy is located is referred to as Verdi’s Land, in honour of Giuseppe Verdi.
Verdi was born in the countryside of Roncole, a village close to Busseto in the province of Parma, on 10 October, 1813. Soon his musical success forced him to move away from his childhood surroundings to Milan. Nevertheless, the Maestro never forgot the countryside where he grew up and at the end of the 1840s he returned to the Bassa (Lowlands). When he was not busy composing, he was dedicated to the care of the farm of Villanova where he lived with his second wife, the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi. Within a few years the countryside became his second profession so that the Maestro was regarded as one of the most influential agricultural entrepreneurs in the area.
Verdi was particularly attached to his native region, where he lived at different stages of his life and from which he drew inspiration for the composition of his works, which are alive with his links to the countryside. The involvement of the Maestro with the traditions of these places also includes the field of gastronomy: he loved the fruits of his land, so much so that he took them with him on his travels or had them shipped to his destination, preferring the simple dishes of the Emilian cuisine to the elaborate flavours of the restaurants that he was obliged to frequent; his numerous letters (written with his wife Giuseppina) are full of suggestions, recipes and culinary anecdotes.
In his residences, Verdi often organized convivial lunches, which always included the local produce of his region. Great chefs have dedicated dishes to him: the first to do so was the French Henry-Paul Pellaprat (1869-1952), who dedicated to the Maestro a risotto with mushrooms, asparagus and ham. Among the recipes inspired by Verdi is also Spaghetti alla Traviata, a tasty recipe sporting the patriotic colours of Italy, the red of the tomatoes and the green of the fresh basil.
He was born in Roncole, in the province of Parma, but only because his grandfather had moved from the district of Piacenza to run a tavern there.
His father’s family always gravitated, from the seventeenth century onwards, between Villanova and Sant’Agata, near Piacenza.
His mother’s family, the Uttini, constantly moved between Saliceto di Cadeo and Chiavenna Landi, in the heart of the province of Piacenza.
As soon as he was able, Verdi crossed the Ongina – the river that marks the border between the provinces of Piacenza and Parma-and settled in the province of Piacenza, in Sant’Agata.
In Sant’Agata he composed the largest part of his works and, most certainly, his masterpieces.
In Piacenza he had his best friends. Among the most famous were the stationmaster, Mazzacurati, the shoemaker, Zaffignani and the lawyer, Grandi.
He was a provincial councillor of Piacenza, and he was also a town councillor of Villanova sull’Arda, in the province of Piacenza.
Verdi used Piacenza as his base (he used to stay in the Hotel San Marco) for receiving or sending goods as well as for his travels.
Verdi was honorary president of the Circolo Musicale Piacentino (Piacentine Musical Circle)
In his will he left legacies for social works to the towns of Villanova sull’Arda, Fiorenzuola d’Arda and Cortemaggiore, all in the province of Piacenza.