Milan and its surrounding area boast an array of top attractions and stunning scenery, and one daytrip you can take from the city centre is to Piacenza. The city, which is the capital of the province of the same name, is around a 50-minute drive from Milan.

I think it’s certainly worth the journey, although you’ll find it a lot more convenient to book a hire car at Milan Airport’s stands and make your own way to Piacenza, rather than using public transport or a coach transfer. This means you can take as long as you want to get there, stop whenever something piques your interest and leave when you have seen everything you want to.

If you’re unsure what Piacenza has to offer, the answer is plenty. The pretty city is home to some beautiful churches and a majestic Gothic town hall, so ensure these sights are on your itinerary. You will more than likely begin your sightseeing expedition in the Piazza dei Cavalli, the central square, where you can accustom yourself to Piacenza by watching the locals go about their daily business.

From here, you will spot the city’s town hall and churches, so will easily find your way to them. The neoclassical theatre is another place you should definitely make the effort to visit, even if just to look at the wonderful architecture from the outside. You might even decide to stop over in the city or drive back into Milan late after watching a show. From October 28th 2012 to May 3rd 2013 the new musical season will take place, with tickets for operas, ballets and concerts available.

Should there be a show you have your eye on, my advice is it’s well worth securing your seats at the same time as you book your flight and accommodation. It can also be a good idea to research different car hire quotes as early as possible so you can budget for your rental vehicle.

The Museum of Natural History is another of Piacenza’s top attractions. You can learn more about the region’s minerals, fossils and animals, as well as its diverse geography that includes mountains, hills and plains.

Indeed, the city is fantastic for culture vultures, and going outside of Milan’s boundaries does not mean your learning curve has to stop. The Ricci Oddi modern art gallery is also located in Piacenza, and you will more than likely discover the works on show here are not as crowded as those in Milan. While Milan boasts some of the most well-known masterpieces in the world, such as The Last Supper, you might find yourself battling with other tourists to get a good view. So, if you would prefer a more laidback art experience, the Ricci Oddi gallery could be for you.

Since you are making the effort to travel to Piacenza, make sure you hop out of your car at least once to see what the surrounding Po Valley has to offer. The Po Valley is simply stunning, not just because of its geological features, but also due to the towns and villages that are dotted along it.

If you want to pick up some authentic Italian souvenirs before heading back to Milan, you can buy ceramics made in Lodi Vecchia and, if you play the instrument, a high-quality violin in Cremona.

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