About 30km northwest of Parma, the small village of Le Roncole marks the start of Verdi country. By the main road on Piazza Giovannino Guareschi – named after the author of the Don Camillo books who also lived here – you can visit the humble house where the great composer was born. Some 5km up the road is Busseto, the childhood home of Verdi and the centre of the industry that has grown up around the composer, with regular opera performances during summer. It’s an appealing little battlemented town, but the main attractions are strictly for Verdi pilgrims. The Casa Barezzi, now a Verdi museum, was the home of Antonio Barezzi, a wealthy merchant who spotted the young Verdi’s talent and brought him in as a teacher for his daughter. Verdi lived here for a while and later married his pupil, Margherita. Now restored to its nineteenth-century state, the museum contains the piano that Verdi played on and memorabilia such as the baton that Toscanini used to conduct his Verdi memorial concert in 1926. The tourist office (w bussetolive.com) can give you information about the sights and about tickets for concerts in the Verdi Theatre.

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