The area around Abbiategrasso and Magenta make up a very world of which most residents of Milan may be unaware.
It is a world that is very courteous, polite, respectful and often friendly. It has its Navigli (long and narrow, suitable for water transport and provided with cycle paths), its cascine (lots of them: once upon a time, they were the only houses around …) its churches (some of which are, frankly, extraordinary, others only centuries old and memorable), its museum (few: a pity), its fields (endless paddy-fields), its villas (many, but few open to visitors: another pity), its cuisine (a surprise), its outlets (another surprise: stockhings, fabrics, Italian design) and its castles (mainly of the Visconti era).
The world of Abbiategrasso and Magenta starts on the outskirts of Milan and continues as far as the woods along the Ticino, between Lombardy and Piedmont. It is between the line of infrastructures that link the site of the new Fiera with Malpensa airport (in the north) and the indiscernible rural boundary with the Pavia area (in the south). It has important friends close by, like Vigevano or Pavia itself, pleasant local populations (including herons and farm workers).
The cycle paths (increasing, though they are already common), railways (which has now made it much easier to travel with bicycles on trains) canal boats (they are starting to appear), local road signs, holiday farms that serve good meals (Agriturismo), holiday farms that provide overnight accommodation in the silence of the fields. A desire to get away from everyday troubles (rather common in the city) and a graciousness on the part of guests equaling that of the hosts.
Tip: if you happen to have a football with you and are standing in a nice meadow, please check whether it is not, in fact, a paddy-field. The consequences could be a reduction of the local agricultural output and a hasty retreat followed by infuriated farmers.
Another tip: use this website, tell your friends about it, write angry letters to the Head of Tourism, Comune di Gaggiano, if it contains any information that is incorrect or missing, keep it handy for planning weekend trips, consult local government website (www.comune.gaggiano.mi.it), keep in touch with this website for updated lists of feast days, fairs and markets.
Gaggiano awaits you. Welcome!
Practically half-way between Abbiategrasso and Milano, with a delightful historic center around the Naviglio Grande and Provincial Road 59 that runs alongside it, Gaggiano has preserved its village look, with low, historic buildings reflected in the water and amazingly, since it is so close to the spreading city, its quaint village atmosphere with its cobbled streets and ancient walls.
Besides the main seat – Gaggiano itself – the municipality also includes the smaller village of Bonirola, along the Naviglio in the direction of Milan, the two farming villages, San Vito and Fagnano, north of the canal, Barate among the fields in the south, and a short distance from Barate, Vigano Certosino, the latter being rather important and to a certain extent self-sufficient. Other Gaggiano localities along the Naviglio marked on road signs are Cascina Rosa, which stands between Bonirola and the historic centre, and Bettolina, in the direction of Abbiategrasso. Moreover, Gaggiano is quite a large municipality compared with the average in provincial areas around Milan. It has always been this important an indeed in the 12th century, the Naviglio Grande was called Navigium da Gazano. It is here that the canal makes a slight detour, a bend at an abtuse angle between the straight stretch that comes from Abbiategrasso and the one flowing toward Milan.
Next to the bridge over the Naviglio Grande – forcing the road to make a double right angle , – a large church courtyard overlooking the water creates a space in front of the baroque façade of the church of Sant’Invenzio, a charming sight on the left bank of the canal against the backdrop of the sky. The two colours of the plaster highlight the borders strips that outline the façade, the triangular tympanum that surmounts them all, and the jambs of the bell tower making the statues and stuccos stand out. All of this dates back – with the exception of minor renovations and plastering – to the series of works the building underwent around 1620. But the origin of the church is older, as records from 1100 onwards show, while a certain amount of extension work was carried out later, in 1758.
The interior boasts 19th century frescoes. Above Our Lady’s altar, to left of the entrance, the fresco of Our Lady of Grace dates back to before the 17th century alterations. Next to the bridge in Gagggiano, opposite the church, Palazzo Venini Uboldi in an impressive 18th century building with high windows and a typically neoclassic U-shaped layout. The historical homes on the left bank of the Naviglio, in certain places below water level, have been carefully restructured and repainted for reasons that certainly have to do with the trend developed by a lot of Milanese who do not necessarily want to spend their whole life in town. The line of these houses is broken to allow a view, father from the canal, of the front of Villa Marino, a late-16th century abode that belonged to Massimiliano Stampa. The name of the building is rooted in tradition: it appears it was the summer home of the Genoese financier Tomaso Marino, more famous in Milan for having built for himself what is now the Town Hall.
In Fagnano, about 3 Kilometres as the crow flies from the historic center of Gaggiano, an eye-catching feature in the imposing, square-shaped Villa Borromeo d’Adda, a 16th century residence with three small towers on the avant-corp. At a short distance from Villa Borromeo, Cascina Donato del Conte houses a Lady Chapel completed in 1482, with frescoes of the time. Pretty little San Vito, linked to nearby Fagnano by a pleasant path across the fields, is supported by the church of San Vito, of 13th century origin, decently restored in recent times.
Welcome to Gaggiano!