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guida ufficiale della Provincia di Pavia

Castles and Rice Paddies

This itinerary will lead you through a landscape that tells the story of this territory and the labours of the people who live there. This area is known as the Lomellina, a mosaic of water and land, a smooth, flat surface where, amidst the sixty thousand hectares of rice paddies, the escape routes are the banks, the walkways that skim the water are the boundaries and the bridges. The perfectly levelled land of the Lomellina is dotted with villages (almost sixty municipalities and adjoining hamlets) and with vast cascine, the typical farmsteads. The history of the area lies in the effort of the people who, for more than one thousand years, have toiled to level the sandy dunes and the boulders smoothed by the flow of the three rivers (the Sesia, the Ticino and the Po), the basins and the valleys, guiding and channelling the streams and canals. A fertile land generous with numerous varieties of quality rice, asparagus, beans, red onions, pumpkins, frogs and salami, all gourmand agricultural products. This substantially manmade landscape is surrounded by natural habitat – such as the Ticino park – where the original ecosystem is being gradually restored, thanks to projects for the conservation of botanical and faunal biodiversity. Tradition, nature and culture (the Lomellina is a treasury of Romanesque and Renaissance art and architecture: historical towns, castles, ancient villages and churches) and history (for significant stretches the roads follow the steps of the pilgrims on the Via Francigena and its fertile fields were also the unforgotten battlefields during the Risorgimento).

Vigevano

At the turn of the 14th century, at the apex of the Renaissance lordships, the Vigevano fief - a fortified village of Lombard origin - was experiencing a golden age with the rise to power of Ludovico Sforza known as il Moro.

Castello D'agogna

In the town of Castello d’Agogna stands the ancient castle of medieval origin that in its long history has seen numerous owners: from the abbey of Santa Croce in Mortara, to rich land-owning families like the Crotti and the Isimbardi, and even the German troops who briefly occupied it in December 1944.

Robbio

In the Middle Ages Robbio was a Vercelli outpost in Pavia land on the Via Francigena. This Lomellina town's many Romanesque churches evoke its splendid past.

Palestro

The small red Torre dei Visconti is one of the symbols of Palestro, located on a small side road off Via Vodano and the last vestige of the town's 12th century castle.

Cozzo

The Celpenchio natural heritage bird nesting site is in the towns of Cozzo, Rosasco and Castelnovetto (www.parks.it/mn.garz.celpenchio).

Breme

Breme's gems encompass Abbazia di San Pietro, a crypt and baptistery, Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta and Chiesetta di Santa Maria di Pollicino. A range of NATURE TRAILS and a Romanesque route which take in Lomello and Vlezzo as well as Breme are to be found here. Breme red onions, a local product which can be tasted from June to September, are grown here.

Frascarolo

Frascarolo is located on the border with Piedmont in a historically strategic position. In the fourteenth century its Castello Visconteo, site of bloody territorial disputes, was built here.

Mede

Situated midway (perhaps the origin of its name Mede) between the Sesia and Agogna rivers, sections of 14th-15th century Sangiuliani Castle's walls are still visible in the town centre together with an elegant loggia built at a later date and a battlemented tower.

Lomello

In the 6th and 7th centuries Lomello was the occasional residence of the first Lombard kings and its royal status was confirmed in the imperial period when the Lomello counts began to extend their rule to the surrounding areas.

Valeggio

On the approach to Valeggio, historic site on the Roman road to Turin and Gaul, the austere and imposing bulk of its thirteenth century castle is already visible from afar with its generally trapezoid plan and seven towers arranged asymmetrically and in varying forms and sizes.

Scaldasole

The majestic fortified Scaldasole Castle complex whose seven medieval towers and fifteenth century fortified building stand out, is the only one of its kind in the Lomellina area.

Dorno

In the Middle Ages Dorno was an important fortified town. With the French conquest of the Duchy of Milan it was subjected to sacking and destruction.

Gropello Cairoli

Only the north and east wings of the original square plan Visconti period castle have survived. To the right of the façade, a massive tower with an airy ogival window framed by terracotta rosettes and with a sill supported by small intersecting arches, has also survived.

Garlasco

In the fourteenth and fifteenth century Garlasco Castle was important enough to merit the title propugnaculum Papiae as a Pavia bulwark playing an important role in the town's defence.

Gambolo'

In 1481 the fourteenth century castle, previously owned by the Beccaria family, passed under the control of Ludovico il Moro who lived in it for long periods. The entrance to the building is a portal which was damaged in the Baroque era but the crossbow loops of the historic drawbridge camber are still visible.

Sartirana Lomellina

The town's 14th century castle is the largest in the Lomellina area, has a wide moat around it and is dominated by an imposing circular tower. The castle now hosts painting, sculpture and craft exhibitions.

Mortara

Mortara town is famous for its many churches and basilicas of which the most historically important is the 8th century Abbazia di Sant'Albino on the Via Francigena,