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Iron bridges, man-made constructions

Discovering the fruits of human ingenuity that tell the story of the Lombardy landscape. Eight iron bridges along the rivers of Lombardy: from the Po to the Ticino, from the Oglio to the canals of Milan.

 

How often when travelling and concentrating on driving, distracted by our thoughts, are we surprised by the beauty of the places and the works of human ingenuity that we see flow by through the car window, as in a film? The iron bridges represent some of the most spectacular examples of twentieth century engineering. They tell stories, bear witness to epochs and define the landscapes of Lombardy, punctuating them with their lightweight structures and daring spans that stand out against the blue of the sky, while the river flows by below. Watch out for them from now on. In the meantime, here are eight iron bridges which are among the most beautiful in Lombardy.

 

The Paderno d’Adda Bridge: a unique example
Known as the Paderno d’Adda Bridge, it is also called the San Michele Bridge, or Bridge of Calusco (the town connected to Paderno), or the Röthlisberger Bridge, after the Swiss engineer who designed it in the late nineteenth century. A spectacular arched bridge, built over a gorge in the Adda by the Società Nazionale delle Officine Savigliano between 1887 and 1889, it is 150 metres high and 266 metres long. It is a symbol of the excellence of Lombard engineering: the 150-metre-long single span in iron girders carries two levels - road and rail - supported by seven massive pillars; the structure is riveted, without welding (over 100,000 rivets were used); it weighs a total of 2,500 tons and 7,200 m3 of stone and granite were used to construct the supports. The bridge is really worth a visit: it is not by chance that it is a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Over the longest river in Italy, the Po
The Po, which crosses four regions of northern Italy, offers many examples of iron bridges along its course, including in Lombardy. There are three, in particular, which stand out for their originality. 

The oldest, the Piacenza Railway Bridge, dates back to 1861! It connects Lombardy - in particular the Lodi region - with Emilia-Romagna. Temporarily built in wood with a truss structure, the iron version was completed in 1865, by the Parent Schanken company. Its distinctive feature, in addition to the versatility of its engineering, was the two imposing neo-Gothic portals, which are sadly no more. No longer meeting the needs of traffic, the bridge was rebuilt between 1931 and 1932 and once again after the war. 

Also constructed in iron, the eight arched spans of the Gerola Bridge (or Cornale Bridge) rise above the Po in the province of Pavia, connecting the Lomellina with the Oltrepò. An interesting fact! It's the only bridge over the Po to be paved with cubes of porphyry. What's more, it is one of the most valued for its lightweight structure and the elegance of its line, the result of a project with high technical value and skilful construction, by Officine Savigliano (1913-1916).

The Becca Bridge is located in the Oltrepò Pavese, where the river converges with the Ticino. Built between 1910 and 1912 by Larini Nathan of Milan, it has a long history: in the nineteenth century, where it now stands, there was a ferry service, then replaced by a pontoon bridge, to transport the grapes from the countryside of Pavia throughout Lombardy. It was even opened by a member of the Italian royal family, in the person of Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia. 

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