The Francigena Way in Lombardy
The Via Francigena is one of the most important cultural routes recognized by the Council of Europe, a journey of more than two thousand kilometers, from England across the continent, passing through France and Switzerland to to Italy. In Lombardy, the Way winds along 120 km from Palestro through Robbio, Mortara, Tromello, Garlasco, Gropello Cairoli, Pavia, Belgioioso, Santa Cristina e Bissone, Chignolo Po, Lambrinia, Orio Litta to Corte Sant’Andrea, the eparture point for pilgrims who want to continue the journey beyond the Po.
The Lombardy Region supports the European Association of the Via Francigena, and works closely with the provinces of Lodi and Pavia, the other Italian and European regions and the Ministry of Heritage, Culture and Tourism for the development of the areas crossed by the route in order to improve the tourism and cultural services offered.
In 2016, for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, the Lombardy Region, with the ‘’Lombardy Tourism Year,” has decided to focus on the promotion of the Via Francigena - which in terms of natural beauty and
cultural wealth equals that of other famous routes, such as Santiago de Compostela - as well as on the enhancement of the whole Lombard cultural heritage, made up of unique places that deserve to be rediscovered by the citizens of Lombardy and admired by tourists from all over the world.
The Pavese section of the Francigena is divided into three stages along 126 km from Palestro up to Chignolo Po.
From Palestro to Tromello
At Palestro, the parish church of St. Martin of Tours is an example of Romanesque architecture in Lombardy. Following the river Sesia you arrive at Robbio, renowned for the Municipality of San Valeriano church and the church of San Pietro. The first was a Cluniac priory, founded between 1068 and 1095, which became a very important stop on the Via Francigena.
Before reaching Mortara you pass Santa Maria del Campo, a church with pictorial works from different periods, including artwork attributed to the Lombard painter Giovan Battista Crespi, known as ‘Il Cerano’. Arriving in Mortara you fi nd the Basilica of San Lorenzo, designed by Bartolino da Novara at the end of 1300.
The Via Francigena then continues to the Abbey of Santa Croce and the Abbey of Sant’Albino, built in the place where Charlemagne defeated the Lombards of King Desiderio in 773. It is still a place where pilgrims find hospitality and spiritual comfort.
From Tromello to Pavia
The second stage begins in Tromello, where you can visit the churches of St. Martin and St. Rocco. Once in Garlasco you will find the sanctuary of Our Lady of Bozzola, a Christian pilgrim destination since 1465.
According to legend, a young mute regained his speech after praying at the chapel of the Enthroned Virgin and Child. The sanctuary was built as a holy place at the site of the miracle.
Continuing on we reach the shrine of the Palazzo Cairoli chapel, a manor house in the nineteenth century, now the town hall and the public library of Gropello Cairoli. The next town is Pavia where you can rediscover traces of the capital of the Lombard kingdom including: the beautiful San Michele Maggiore, where Barbarossa was crowned king of Italy in 1155, the church of Santa Maria in Bethlehem, The Ponte Vecchio over the Ticino - a symbol of the strong ties between the village and the historic centre of the city, the basilicas of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro and San Teodoro.
Going back to the times of the Visconti Castle and the Certosa di Pavia, in the Castle today are located the Civic Museums. The Certosa di Pavia, founded in 1396, is a complex structure made up of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the large court, which overlooks the Doge’s Palace and some agricultural buildings. It was the Sforzas who built the Duomo in 1488.
From Pavia to Lambrinia
The last section is a tribute to the rural roots of the province. It is testimony to the Valle Salimbene. It is here that in 1912 the Becca bridge was built; a steel structure, which has been able to withstand the flooding of the century and the devastating bombings of World War II.
Further on is Linarolo, with the church of St. Anthony and the eighteenth-century Villa Nocca. In the hamlet of Vaccarizza in contrast is the Martinoli farm, which offers a historical and artistic image, thanks to the chapel with its Christ carved in sandstone dating from 1200.
The next stop is the Romanesque church and the oratory of San Giacomo della Cerreta, important testimony to the Lombard baked tile artwork. Three kilometers away is the Castle of Belgioioso. The old manor house hosted celebrities such as Giuseppe Parini, Ugo Foscolo and Pietro Verri.
Then one reaches Santa Cristina e Bissone, where Sigeric stopped on his journey back from the Holy City, and the site of the Farming Museum of Lower Pavese, founded in 1984 by a group of citizens history buffs and traditional eateries. Finally, the imposing Castle of Chignolo Po, dating back to 1200, is where the path along the Pavia section of the Via Francigena concludes.
For more information visit: www.visitpavia.com
The Lodigiano section of the Francigena
The Francigena enters the territory of Lodi at the Mariotto Bridge which crosses the Lambro River, the border between the municipalities of Chignolo Po (Pavia) and Orio Litta (Lodi).
Once over the bridge, walk along the Lambro embankment, and continue along the Po in the Lodi countryside, arriving after 4 km at Corte S. Andrea at Transitum Padi Sigeric, in the Municipality of Senna Lodigiana.
From Orio Litta to Corte Sant'Andrea
From the Mariotto bridge, go down the Lambro to Orio Litta, where you can visit the Oratory of Our Lady of Caravaggio, and admire the Benedictine cell of Cascina San Pietro, recently renovated and today a welcome centre for pilgrims.
Walking along the streets of the historic centre you reach the eighteenth century Villa Litta Carini. Owned by Cavazzi family of Somaglia, the villa appears in the Austrian land registry in 1723. Taking the road to Cascina Cantarana you reach the river Po and, following the river downstream after the stele of the Madonna of Fishermen, you get to Sigeric Ford.
A Francigena column marks the departure point for pilgrims. The crossing of the Po takes place at Corte S. Andrea. Throughout the Middle Ages the place was the historical Transitum Padi, where pilgrims coming from Northern Europe found refreshment and continued on their journey to Rome. Even today you can take a boat along the great river and admire the beautiful natural scenery.
The circular variant of the path
Mountain bikers can enjoy a circular route, which connects Orio Litta and Corte Sant’Andrea, via Ospedaletto, and Senna Lodigiana Mirabello.
The route starts from the courtyard of the squires of Villa Litta Carini, past which the route takes cyclists towards Ospedaletto Lodigiano, an ancient pilgrim hospital. Crossing the nineteenth century Arch of Peace you reach the monumental church of Saints Peter and Paul and the abbey Gerolomini.
You then come to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Thanks, or Madonna of the Great Fountain. A climb follows to Senna Lodigiana, a town that was The Royal Court of Berengar, King of Italy. Here, on the ridge stands the fascinating church of Santa Maria of Galilee.
In the nineteenth century the cloister and the church were transformed into a hospital and military hospital as a result of a cholera epidemic. At Senna Lodigiana today’s pilgrims can count on the House of Water: a place to find drinking water, and which also serves as an information area.
From Santa Maria in Galilee you leave the village by following the sign to Mirabello. After two kilometres on a quiet, narrow street you will reach the Church of San Bernardino. Passing the church continue through the village until you reach the provincial road leading to Bellaguarda. bank After a km go up the bank and continue along the route of the Francigena until you reach Corte S. Andrea. To return to Orio Litta, follow the trail that from the Francigena column of the ford brings you back to the beginning of the path. In total about 20 km.
For more information see www.turismolodi.it