Recent archaeological findings indicate in etruscan period the origins of Guastalla understood as the first nucleus inhabited. Fragments of decorated tableware of various shapes and uses, metal objects and other more specific grave goods are signs of an organized presence. After all the river, as a broad way to communication towards the sea, has always been an ideal place for trades, a real "sui generis" highway for trade and transport of the whole Po valley. Therefore the etruscan presence in is not surprising these territories nor the evidence of traces of roman centuriation as they appear both from findings and from reliefs photogrammetric.

Clear elements such as the same name testify to its function as a "guard post" in the Lombard period. But it is in the historical documents of 864 where Emperor Louis II gives Guastalla to his wife Angilberga who appears for the first time the name of the city. It is then from around the year one thousand, with the Canossa family, that the residential area built around the Church of Pieve, obtained the privilege of "nullius dioecesis", begins to assume importance due to the presence of large areas cultivated on fertile land a stone's throw from the Po, strategic area of ​​passage. 

To confirm the level of importance reached by Guastalla in the Middle Ages, two councils were hosted in the church of Pieve, first in 1095 with Urbano II, the pope of the Crusades, and later in 1106 with the Pontiff Pasquale II. With the advent of the Counts Torelli in 1406 began the cycle of lords that dominated and created the city as an architectural space organized with the presence of the noble palace, the castle, churches, and the square.

This new reality born on the right bank of the river Po, in a productive plain area, arouses the attention of Ferrante Gonzaga, field marshal of the Emperor of Spain Carlo V, who bought it, in 1539, from the Countess Ludovica Torelli with
the intent to make it a possession worthy of its lineage.

Under the Gonzaga dynasty, Guastalla reaches its greatest splendor; they were called architects of great renown as Giunti and Volterra, hosted artists such as Guercino and Campi, poets like the Tasso and the Guarini; became, thanks to the care of his dukes, one of the most important fortified cities on the chessboard military of Northern Italy. This warlike connotation as it was the symbol of military power was also the sign of his downfall. Indeed in 1689, attacked by the Spaniards, it was deprived of its elements of fortification like the walls and the fortress.

After that date, the city of Guastalla started a slow political and military decline; to Gonzaga took over the Bourbons of Parma who placed it in a role subordinate; later Napoleon and Maria Luigia: borderland of the duchy of Parma. Finally the Risorgimento made it one of the Municipalities Italy.

In the 1900s Guastalla passed from a typically productive agricultural reality to an industrial and artisan while maintaining those peculiarities of traditions linked to the land such as wine, the breeding and the production of Parmigiano Reggiano. A city where the size allows a particularly high quality of life, thanks to the large green spaces linked to the river, to the historic core Renaissance, to the services present and to an occupational level among the higher.


Guastalla remains a city that manages to communicate to the gaze of the visitor his magnificent past. Who enters the old town immediately perceives how much Renaissance still remains in the fabric urban of the city: from the noble palaces to the residence of the dukes, from the churches to the road network, up to the remains of the fortifications immersed in a large green area.


Su piazza Garibaldi troviamo alcuni interessanti edifici che anche se svuotati dei loro primitivi significati appartengono alla storia della città: Palazzo Frattini sede del Centro Culturale Comunale, il Monte di Pietà, la chiesa conventuale del Santissimo Crocefisso (o delle Cappuccine), in passato pertinenza della collegata scuola media, la chiesa ottagonale della Beata Vergine della Concezione.

Lasciando piazza Garibaldi e percorrendo Corso Prampolini si giunge all'incrocio con via IV Novembre, l'antica strada del Palamaglio, dove incontriamo il fulcro della cosiddetta Croce del Volterra: un crocevia urbano che ci riporta allo schema della città ideale in cui notiamo la presenza religiosa concretizzata da quattro chiese: la Cattedrale a nord, l'ex Chiesa di San Carlo a sud, la Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata a est, l'ex Chiesa del Santissimo Crocefisso a ovest.