Ponte Coperto

PAVIA AND THE SURROUNDINGS: PADDY FIELDS, VILLAGES AND CASTLES 30 KM AWAY FROM MILAN

I would like to thank Erika Bonanni, the ambassador of Pavia and the Pavese. She moved here for love. Read on and you will find the same love for the places that hosted her. I can’t wait to see this area!!!

A huge thank you to Roberta Mastretta for the wonderful pics, we made each other a great gift, but yours is bigger for the trust you had in me! 

Maybe for those who don’t live here, it’s one of the many areas in Italy you know they exist but you don’t think of when organizing a journey. “Of course, there is also Pavia and the surroundings!” South of Milan, right? Is there anything interesting to see? For sure! Paddy fields, villages and castles, and of course fog and mosquitoes.

I landed here sixteen years ago. I left the backcountry of the Romagna for love and I came to live in a small village of the Lomellina I had never heard of before, so everything was brand new.

Ponte delle barche di Bereguardo
Ponte delle barche di Bereguardo

Since then I can’t do anything but be astonished by the beauty of the paddy fields: in spring the gorgeous squared sea, in summer huge green stretches hemmed with poplars placed like kind soldiers standing in perfect lines, in autumn green turns into yellow to announce the harvest, and last but not least the winter, a poetic and melancholic veil over the sleepy fields.

Nature rules here, you might not expect it only 30 km away from Milan, but after all this area is part of the Ticino Park. This is the reason why you can see herons, egrets, ibises and storks stepping out of the paddy fields with their skinny and long paws.

As a foreigner I soon started going around to browse so that I could know better the area that hosted me. I discovered that the province of Pavia can be divided into three areas: Oltrepo, Lomellina and Pavese, each with its own peculiarities that are worth being known.

The Oltrepo hills are a land of rough beauty still little known to mass tourism. It’s not per chance that right here you can find S. Albert from Budrio Hermirage. It’s an over a  thousand year old little church,  

It’a a very wide area including many valleys, spred with castles and villages, some listed among “the most beautiful villages in Italy” such as Zavattello, Oramala and Fortunago, but also Varzi, Montesegale, Stefanago. You can visit and taste the many winemakers that produce local wines such as Buttafuoco Storico and Riesling and you can also taste them.

Fortunago
Fortunago

There are places where I go to slow down: one of these is Montaldo Pavese and Virgin Mary of the Wind. You go there to watch the sunsets.

The Lomellina is the Land-in-between: among regions, among rivers and provinces. It’s a place of shabby beauty, that of the rice weeders in the films “Riso Amaro” and “Ragazzo di campagna” with Renato Pozzetto. Visiting it riding a motorbike slowly would be the best way, going by paddy fields, farmhouses, rivers, crossing bridges: In Bereguardo there’s one of the last bridges made of barges in Italy.

Ponte Coperto
Ponte Coperto

Tha castle are far more than you can imagine. Some are really well kept, such as Lomello and Sartirana, but also the more cracky ones are small jewels worth a stop. I have learnt that this is a land that can surprise.

While working for Ludovico il Moro, Leonardo da Vinci, studied a irrigation system with canals, that was already in use in these surroundings. You can find traces of the Sforza family everywhere, but above all in Vigevano, that is well known for its wonderful Piazza Ducale from the Renaissance and its beautiful castle.

Than there’s Pavia, the ancient Ticinum, the capital of the Longobards. I love strolling around its historical centre, still divided in insulae, full of palaces, medioeval towers and secret gardens. This is also how I have discovered many, really many delicious pubs and restaurants. This city is always so full of life also due to the university, I love Pavia!

Its inhabitants love taking pictures of their city and it’s clear why. The most beloved subject is for sure Ponte Coperto, over the Ticino that connects the historical centre and the Ticino Village, a pictoresque view of colorful houses around the Statue of the Laundress.

Borgo Basso
Borgo Basso

On these banks in 1525 the destiny of Europoe changed. It still exists the hut where King Frances I of France was led to have something to eat: the farmer made a soup with the ingredients she had, this is how the Pavese Soup was born.

You can’t miss the famous Certosa, the stunning building wanted by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who wanted to surprise the errand then and the visitor today. And then there is the Belgioioso Castle, elegant location for fairs of vintage, fantasy and comics.

I love this land because it doesn’t stop surprising me, I love it also because not everyone is able to see its beauty or they simply don’t know it enough otherwise they would start loving it as much as I do… fog included, because it’s part of the poetry.

Cascina Guasta - Zerbolò (PV)
Cascina Guasta – Zerbolò (PV)

Erika and Roberta persuaded me it’s high time I visited these places. Leave a comment if you agree with me!

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