Piacenza is a very ancient town that can be considered one of the first Roman colonies in Northern Italy. The city was built in 218 BC, as a military outpost against the Gauls, and from that moment it grew in importance for its strategic position. Unfortunately the city was subjected to real devastation following barbaric invasions; it was then occupied by the Byzantines and by the Goths, further to become a Lombard duchy. A new development stage coincided with domination by the bishops and, around the year 1000, the city became primarily important in the area's economical and social life, reaching its time of maximum splendour with the establishment as a free municipality and the adhesion to the Lombardy League. Since then Piacenza was governed by various dynasties throughout the centuries, among which the Farnese House, and for a certain time it was also once more Church territory. The happenings that took place in the past few centuries are part of the troubled situation of Italy's history, with its various dominations and wars, leading Piacenza to an exceptional economical reprise that brought the city to an extraordinary development.
The city is full of important monuments, many of which are to be found in the Piazza dei Cavalli area, such as the Palazzo Gotico from the 13th century, a Romanic base structure later re-managed in Gothic style, easily one of the most important examples of medieval architecture. In the nearby areas there are also the Palazzo del Governatore, of the 13th century, in neoclassic style, the Palazzo dei Mercanti, from 1600 and the Chiesa di San Francesco from the 12th century. Also remarkable are the Palazzo Farnese, the Museo Civico, where you can visit Botticelli's "Madonna adorante il Figlio", and the Duomo, an example of Romanic-Gothic architecture with decorations by Wiligelmo. Next to the Duomo there is a bell-tower containing the statue of an angel in golden copper, the symbol of the city. The churches of S. Savino and S. Antonino, patron of Piacenza, are also worth a visit. The latter is next to a Baptistery which in the centuries was transformed into a bell tower. There are also many noble palaces: Palazzo Chiapponi-Scotti, Palazzo Lucca Manfredi, Palazzo Marazzi Visconti, from the late 1500's, Palazzo Zanardi Landi, just to mention a few.
For lovers of opera, theatre and concerts the Municipale di Piacenza offers a wide choice of various kinds of shows, with internationally renown artists. Also interesting activities are those organised by the Teatro Gioco Vita, a drama production and research centre for children's theatre, and the Manicomics Teatro. Finally, the town hosts an interesting short film competition called Cortometraggi Location Piacenza.