This ancient town, about 20 km from Milan, is included in the Natural Park of the Ticino River, and is an important agricultural center producing mainly rice and maize.
Its wide territory - its the second largest commune in the province after Milan - includes a network of navigable canals, the so-called Navigli, originally excavated to connect the river with the city of Milan.
What to see
- The basilica of Santa Maria Nuova, built in 1388 for the birth in the town of Giovanni Maria son of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, and in the following century a lodge was added in the front, but left unfinished, possibly on a design by Donato Bramante.
- The Castle, a very ancient fortress, renovated and embellished in 1438 by Filippo Maria Visconti,was a strategic stronghold between the Naviglio Grande and the road Milano-Vigevano.
- The Convento dell'Annunciata, a beautiful 15th century monastery erected in 1466 to fulfil a vow by Galeazzo Maria Sforza , was entrusted to the Franciscans. Suppressed by the French in 1810, it was first a hospital, then a warehouse, and later a dwelling. Only in recent years the monument was brought back to its original architecture, and the renovation works brought to light a fresco cycle on the wall of the apse, representing Stories of the Life of the Virgin Mary, dated 1519 and signed by Nicola Mangone alias Moietta, a painter of the Caravaggio school, as well as more frescoes on the walls of the refectory.
History - Antiquity
The area was inhabited still before Roman times, as can be derived from archaeological findings of the 6th century BC with small hamlets as Ozzero founded by the Celtic populations of Lombardy. The Roman occupation that lasted from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD left a great number of traces along the Via Mercatorum that connected the villages east of the Ticino. These settlements were called cascinae, and numerous findings show that the local economy was very lively, mostly based on the production of cereals, wine and oil.
History - the Middle Ages
After the fall of the Roman Empire the area came under the Lombards, who established their center around the church of San Pietro; later on the town was under the rule of the Archbishop of Milan, who ordered a castle to be built near Santa Maria Vecchia. This early castle was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa in 1162.
The early borough was surrounded by walls with 4 gates - San Pietro to the north, Milano to the East, San Martino to the south and the Porta Nuova to the west. In 1176 the canal called Navigium (present-day Naviglio Grande) was begun, and when finished this masterly engineering project connected Milan, the Ticino and Lake Maggiore.
History - Modern times
In the following century the town was under the Visconti (1277-1450), then the Sforza (1450-1535), the Spaniards (1535-1707) - a period well described in Manzoni's "The Betrothed" and finally the Austrians (1707-1859). In the later 19th century the Industrial revolution started to change this part of Italy, and soon the population grew and new districts were built outside the medieval walls.
Altitude: 120 m a.s.l --
Population: ca. 30,000 inhabitants
-- Zip/postal code: 20081
-- Phone Area Code: 02
-- Patron Saint: Santa Rosa da Lima celebrated on 23 August
-- Frazioni & Località: Baraggetta, Bellotta, Canova di Sopra, Case Rurali, Cavallotta, Cittadina, Mendosio, Meraviglia, Nuova Bassano, San Donato, Scocca
Provinces of Lombardy: Bergamo
, Monza and Brianza
, Emilia Romagna
, Friuli Venezia Giulia
, Lombardy, Marche
, Puglia (Apulia)
, Trentino - Alto Adige
, Valle d'Aosta (Aosta Valley)