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Palazzo Farnese

This large palace is one of the most important monuments of the city. In 1556, Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Castro and of Parma, also became Duke of Piacenza and initially set up his court there. The palace was commissioned by Ottavio’s wife, Margaret of Austria, daughter of Emperor Charles V. The new edifice was erected over a former fortress built by the Visconti in 1352, part of which can still be seen.
An initial design was made by Francesco Paciotto, from Urbino, and in 1558, the architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, better known as Vignola, was brought in to revise the designs. Vignola had to take Piacotto’s design into account but significantly revised it. The drawings were for a vast palace on a scale. The actual construction, however, made up only less than a half of Vignola’s original project and lacked many of the planned architectural features. The expenditure of such a large palace plus the political machinations of the Piacentine nobility may have caused Ottavio not to complete the building and instead move his court from Piacenza to Parma. The construction of this partly built palace was completed in 1602, under Duke Ranuccio I.
After the death of the last Farnese duke in 1731, the palace fell into disrepair. Restoration began only in the early 20th century and today the Palazzo Farnese at Piacenza houses an important series of museums and exhibitions.