An industrial center of national importance, Vigevano is known for having long been one of the main shoe production centers in the world. The first industrial model shoe factory was built there in 1866, opening a season that in the following century would have led the capital of Lomellino to produce tens of millions of shoes exported all over the world, earning the nickname of "shoe capital". Even today, the International Shoe Museum, housed in the premises of the Castello Sforzesco, preserves the evidence of a crucial period in Italian industrial history. The municipality is the second in the province by number of inhabitants after the capital and first by surface, included entirely in the Lombard natural park of the Ticino Valley.
It has long enjoyed various autonomies in the course of its history, already a free municipality federated in the second Lombard League and capital of Vigevanasco, as well as a bishopric. It was also the first Lombard city to have obtained the title of city in modern times.
Vigevano is in the north-eastern Lomellina, on the right bank of the Ticino river, which separates it from the province of Milan. It is about 38 km from Pavia, 36 km from the center of Milan, 27 km from Novara, 14 km from Mortara, 12 km from Abbiategrasso. Vigevano is approximately 70 from Lodi and Alessandria, 100 from Piacenza, 130 from Turin and 140 from Brescia. The landscape, being Vigevano inside the Po Valley, is flat.
Vigevano borders with Abbiategrasso, Bereguardo, Besate, Borgo San Siro, Cassolnovo, Cilavegna, Gambolò, Gravellona Lomellina, Morimondo, Mortara, Motta Visconti and Parona.
When to go
The climate is temperate sub-continental, with humid and very cold winters (average 3.1 ° C), and very hot and equally humid summers (average 21.7 ° C). Precipitation reaches its maximum peak in October (122 mm) and the minimum peak in July (58 mm).
The town is crossed by the state road 494 Vigevanese which, passing through Vigevano, connects Milan to Alessandria.
To reach Vigevano the advice is to follow the directions below:
- from Milan take the west ring road: take the West ring road and take the SP ex SS 494 towards Abbiategrasso; or take the Milan - Genoa motorway to the Gropello Cairoli exit.
- from Turin leave the A4 motorway at Novara, exit East.
- from Genoa leave the A7 motorway in Gropello, Cairoli exit
- from Milan Linate airport follow the direction of Bologna / Tangenziale Ovest - Exit at Vigevano-Lorenteggio, direction for Vigevano.
- from Milan Malpensa airport, take the SS 336 super highway towards Magenta; then follow the signs for Abbiategrasso and Vigevano. Cross Robecco sul Naviglio and then Abbiategrasso and continue towards Vigevano.
From Milan: it can be reached from Milano P.ta Genova (MM2) or Milano San Cristoforo (MM2) direction Mortara - Alessandria.
Torre del Bramante. The origin of the tower, at the highest point of the city near the castle, dates back to 1198 and was finished by Bramante at the end of the 15th century, while in the 17th century the baroque "onion" dome was added to replace the original one. conical spire. The tower has an original shape which, in the 15th century, was the model for the Filarete tower in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan; it is made up of sections that narrow as you approach the top. From the terraces it is possible to admire an excellent view of the Piazza Ducale, the castle and the whole city. 75 m high from the level of the square (57 m from the level of the court), the Torre del Bramante is the current Civic Tower of the city of Vigevano, of which it has always been the symbol. Furthermore, with its 57 m it is the tallest structure in the city of Vigevano. it is created by overlapping three floors sloping upwards. The first terrace is enclosed by the Ghibelline battlements, the upper section houses the clock, while the last contains the 17th-century bell. At the top rises the octagonal belvedere that crowns the tower. The belfry, inaccessible to the public, houses "il campanone", a large 17th-century bell "split" out of necessity. In fact, in the 19th century there were no modern electronic systems to control the bells, and the tower clock, mechanical at the time, struck every half hour even at night. It seems that the sound of the "big bell" was so loud that the inhabitants of the houses leaning against the castle and the piazza were practically unable to fall asleep. So they presented a petition in the municipality in which they asked to "silence" the bronze disturber! In the end a compromise was reached: from the bell, with almost surgical precision, a segment was removed in order to make it split and muffle the sound. And this is how it can still be heard beating every quarter of an hour today.
Piazza Ducale. h24. The Piazza Ducale of Vigevano is a large Renaissance-style square. Its construction began in 1492 at the behest of Ludovico il Moro as an antechamber of the castle and was completed in 1494. It is a rectangular square that winds under the arcades on three sides and which sees the fourth side occupied by the Cathedral of Vigevano. It should be noted that above each arch of the arcades there are medallions depicting historical figures of the Renaissance period with some mottos that distinguish them. The beating heart of the city, it is connected by a staircase to the Vigevano Castle and the Bramante Tower which overlooks the roofs of the center and which remains, still today, the tallest building in the city. 134 m long and 48 m wide, it is built on three sides (the fourth is occupied by the Cathedral Church of Sant'Ambrogio) with homogeneous buildings with uniform façades and arcades surrounding a forum that follows the Roman model described by Vitruvius. The area had been characterised by a wide road surrounded by buildings mostly arcaded, including that of the municipality. As a the result of the fourteenth-century expansion, it developed north of the fortified promontory of the ancient village which disappeared with the Visconti and Sforza transformations that led to the construction of the current "castle". The village and the primitive adjoining castle, located in an elevated position, was accessed by means of a ramp or perhaps a staircase placed in correspondence with the current tower which serves as the entrance to the castle. The new square was built under the direction of the ducal engineer Ambrogio da Corte with the demolition of the houses located towards the escarpment on which the castle stands and the reuse of the buildings to the north and west, aligning them with the reconstruction of the facades. The Sforza construction had the south side interrupted, in correspondence with the tower, by a wide connecting ramp between the square and the castle; the west side extended up to the escarpment of the castle (some arches with the original columns are inserted in the Commercio café) and was divided into two parts joined by a triumphal arch at the entrance to via del Popolo, while on the north side, in correspondence of the connection with the west one, just in front of the ramp, there was a triumphal arch with three arches corresponding to the entrance to via Giorgio Silva. The facades were totally decorated with frescoes very similar to the contemporary paintings of Palazzo Bottigella in Pavia. The current form is the result of the intervention of 1680, carried out by bishop Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz, in which the ramp is demolished and a staircase is built, inserted in the completion of the missing section of the south side, part of the west side (towards the castle) is incorporated in the southern body. The layout of the square was definitively modified by Caramuel with the construction of the new facade of the cathedral: a concave facade, leaning against the church like a theatrical backdrop, which embraces and welcomes the enclosure of the square, overturning the Sforza square-castle relationship, transforming it into a square. church. In an unknown period, perhaps in the mid-18th century, the triumphal arches were replaced, completing the rhythm of the arches, with new columns of material and construction different from those of the 15th century. In the first half of the eighteenth century the Austrian occupiers placed a statue of St. John of Nepomuk, which still characterizes the western side of the square today. The pavement with pebbles and serizzo slabs dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, when the pavement of the arcades, originally in herringbone bricks, was also replaced with the current one. In 1911, by the architect Moretti, the design was made with white pebbles and the street lamps were inserted. Between 1905 and 1910 an extensive restoration was carried out which brought to light the fragments of the Sforza frescoes, hidden by the eighteenth-century paintings, by the Vigevanese painters Casimiro Ottone and Luigi Bocca, which integrates the fragments with a new pictorial decoration in Renaissance style; during the works the roofs are redone with the construction of the eclectic fireplaces and the current lampposts are installed. On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of its construction, between 1992 and 1996, the repainting of the decoration of the beginning of the century is carried out and the restoration of what remains of the original Sforza frescoes. The square is a meeting and meeting place, certainly the favourite of the Vigevanese people, and the main point of reference for tourists. It houses various shops and also the stop of the tourist train of the city. Gratis.
Castello Sforzesco (Sforzesco Castle). The Sforzesco Castle is a complex of buildings in the Italian city of Vigevano. The perimeter extends over an area of over two hectares, at the highest point of the city. The castle covers an area of 70,000 m² over 5 floors. It houses the Casimiro Ottone Art Gallery, the Lomellina National Archaeological Museum and the Pietro Bertolini International Shoe Museum. A bit of history : The history of the castle coincides for some centuries with that of the village of Vigevano, formerly called "Vicogebuin". In fact, until the mid-fifteenth century the area of the promontory, enclosed by the buildings that make up the current castle, was the site where the houses of the ancient village stood with the first municipal building and the primitive churches. The village originally surrounded by a rudimentary defense system in earth and wood, later replaced by a wall, had on the east side a square-shaped castle or recetto, initially consisting of a wooden structure, replaced before the 10th century by walls in bricks and separated from the town by a moat. This structure, corresponding to the current male, initially carried out the functions of shelter for fodder and animals and of extreme defense in case of danger, but with the passage of time and with the continuous adjustments and transformations it became, between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, the seat and stately home of the Visconti, who also began to take possession of the houses of the ancient village, starting their demolition. Emptying and demolition continued and completed by the Sforza in the second half of the 15th century, when the keep, further enlarged and embellished, becomes a ducal palace surrounded by stables and service buildings. village in its plan of territorial domination, deciding to make it a defensive stronghold inserted in the territorial chessboard of the castles located along the Adda and Ticino to defend the Visconti state. With this in mind, in 1341, he built a defense fortress (originally called lower, it takes the current name of old fortress as opposed to the new fortress built at the end of the 15th century), at a distance from the castle, on the east limit of the village which was now expanding out of the original perimeter. At the same time, the work of transforming the old castle into a new fortress headquarters and ducal residence begins, a building that in the new conformation has a quadrangular plan formed by crenellated walls with three buildings, towers at the corners and an entrance tower in the center of the anterior curtain. The expansion and embellishment works of the keep continue throughout the Visconti domain. In 1347 the two forts were joined by the so-called "covered road", a large fortified building 164 m long and 7.5 m wide which, standing out against the city panorama, allowed a quick connection between the castle and the surrounding countryside. In 1447, at the end of the Visconti dominion, the same population of Vigevano conquered municipal freedom and destroyed the external fortress. Freedom that ends already in 1449, when Vigevano is besieged by Bartolomeo Colleoni and Francesco I Sforza, husband of Bianca Maria daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, and new lord of Milan. After the conquest, the Sforza repaired the damage of the siege and doubled the central part of the keep towards the outside, incorporating the remains of the south-east tower destroyed during the siege. Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1466, as soon as he succeeded his father Francesco, ordered new interventions that definitively transform the keep into the ducal palace and, taking note of the defensive function of the ancient village walls, he allowed the construction of houses in the external moat, of no higher height. at the wall. In 1472 the new Duke intervened on two ancient buildings, placed along the southern wall of the ancient village and used as a stable, raising them and modifying the ground floor with the insertion of a double colonnade with cross vaults and new windows. In 1475 he created the bridge with loggia, located south of the keep, while shortly before his death he began the construction of the falconry building, later completed by Ludovico il Moro, regent the duchy in the name of his nephew Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza. With Ludovico il Moro, born in Vigevano, the Sforza project is implemented in interventions of significant proportions and qualities, completing the process of transforming the castle into a residence. The courtyard, originally occupied by the ancient village, was emptied of residual buildings, the third stable, called Ludovico's for this reason, and the kitchen building, built with the demolition of the ancient church of Sant'Ambrogio and connected to the male by a bridge building, thus closing the circuit of buildings surrounding the large courtyard.
The keep is enlarged on the east side with the creation of a hanging garden enclosed by two porticoed buildings designed by Bramante and open to the east. Of the Bramante complex today, after the collapse of the loggia leaning against the covered road and the emptying of the garden with the lowering to its current level, only the southern building called the "ladies' lodge" remains. Bramante also owes part of the pictorial decoration that adorned the complex of buildings overlooking the courtyard, of which traces remain today on the walls of Ludovico's stable and the elevation of the ancient municipal tower, which towards 1476 had already been raised with new battlements and corbels to house the bells of the demolished church of Santa Maria, built in three parts, the second with a belfry and the third with an octagonal body covered by a spire. The splendor of the Sforza dominion ends with Francesco II Sforza who completes the pictorial decorations of the ducal palace. From the first half of the nineteenth century the most significant changes were made. Before 1824 the burial of the west side of the moat and the demolition of the curtain wall of the keep with the ravelin took place, while in 1824 the door that opened towards the church of San Pietro Martire was closed and suppressed. In 1855, following a collapse of part of the central body of the keep and of the ancient staircase placed close to the left sleeve (which was no longer rebuilt), it was rebuilt by the engineer. Inverardi, the collapsed part with the modification of the part towards the courtyard which involved the reconstruction of the facade in Tudor style, the shifting of access to the cellar floors from right to left and the construction of a new staircase inside; the same engineer designs the entrance from Corso della Repubblica in neo-Gothic style with an atrium that incorporates a span of the eastern stable. In the second half of the century, the burying of the moat was completed and the excavation of the hanging garden, now called the courtyard of the Duchess, was carried out with the reconstruction of the body close to the covered road, a reconstruction that led to the disappearance of the ducal chapel of the Sforza era and the transfer of nine frescoes (eight of which attributed to Bernardino Ferrari) to the Town Hall. Other interventions are made to adapt the complex to the new military functions by equipping it with new structures. In 1836, in the southern part of the old fortress, a large building was built for indoor riding, today called "cavalry", a second horsewoman (demolished following a collapse in 1979) of smaller dimensions was built in the northern part of the fortress at the end of 'Nineteenth century. During the second half of the century the premises of the “prestino” (ancient municipal oven located east of the tower and purchased by the military administration in 1837) and those of the ducal kitchens were renovated, raised by one floor and used as an officers' club; the remaining parts of the moat are buried; the bridge towards the former kitchens was totally transformed into a terraced portico, while the one towards the falconer was remodeled with the construction of three arches in place of the masonry; the roof garden, already partially unpaved at the beginning of the century, emptied up to its present level; rebuilt the body leaning against the covered road and remodelled the interiors of the stables. In 1980, after a decade of abandonment following the cessation of use by the military, the restoration and recovery work of the large complex of buildings called the castle began.The National Archaeological Museum of Lomellina, inaugurated in 1998 and enlarged in 2018, collects the archaeological evidence from the Lomellino area. In 2009, the Pietro Bertolini International Footwear Museum was transferred to the rooms located above the second stable, consisting of the donation made in 1948 by the industrialist Pietro Bertolini to the Municipality of Vigevano of his rich personal collection.
Leonardiana. Leonardiana is the place, unique in the world, where the visitor can admire all the large and heterogeneous work of one of the greatest geniuses of humanity. The Museum offers an unprecedented itinerary through the life and work of Leonardo who stayed in Vigevano as superintendent of the waters on behalf of Ludovico il Moro, but also as a member of the court of Ludovico and Beatrice who always appreciated his exquisite artistic skills, the worldly attitude and the scientific and mathematical genius. The Museum exhibits all the work that Loenardo was able to conceive and create in the course of his life: the drawings, now preserved in dozens of museums and libraries around the world, the notebooks that accompanied his days, full of his thoughts and brilliant intuitions, the codes that after his death were assembled by his friends and heirs and which today are kept in the largest libraries and institutions in the world. The exhibition itinerary is completed by the "impossible art gallery", in which all 26 paintings recognized to his hand are exhibited, reproduced in full scale with special high-resolution techniques, which allow the visitor to immerse himself in the totality of the work, a unique experience that will allow a close and in-depth analysis of his artistic language. Full admission €8.00; reduced entrance €7.00 (over 65, under 26, disabled, holders of Card Musei Lombardia, Police not in service, authorized tourist guides, Card Touring Club Members, FAI Members, Cral Vigevano Ducale, Card Giunti holder; reduced groups €6.50 + €1 presale rights • Groups of people min 15-max 25 (reservations required); reduced schools €4.00 + €1 presale fee • School groups min 15-max 25 (reservations required - 2 free admissions per class); reduced family 2 adults and 1 child (6-14 years) €20.00 and 2 adults and 2 children (6-14 years) €22.00.
Throughout history, Vigevano has always been famous for the manufacture of high quality shoes. Even today, the internationally renowned Moreschi company has its headquarters in the city, in via Cararola 69, with an outlet with much more affordable prices. But a tour in the center and under the arcades of Piazza Ducale will make you realize that there is no shortage of clothing and perfumery shops and jewelers also in the rest of the city center. For lovers of shopping centers, a little further on the outskirts, there is the "Il Ducale" shopping center, of the Ipercoop chain, with the traditional supermarket and a shopping arcade.
Eating in Vigevano is a pleasure for your palate as you can taste the typical dishes of Lombard cuisine and, above all, the typical dishes of Lomellina which are of "poor" and "country" origin.
All the restaurants in Vigevano offer excellent meat dishes and land dishes (including fish dishes) that are cooked only and exclusively with products and raw materials from the countryside and local farms.
The main source of income of Vigevano is, without question, the footwear sector but also tourism is very developed thanks to the historical and artistic beauties of the city so the prices of the restaurants are not really cheap but they are not excessive or prohibitive either.
What to eat in Vigevano
The gastronomic tradition of Vigevano is very ancient and has always been influenced by peasant civilization, and it is no coincidence that one of the main "ingredients" of this sublime cuisine is rice which is present in all courses, from appetizers to desserts.
Let's see what are some of the best typical dishes of Vigevano that you absolutely must not give up:
- Fried or stewed frogs
- Sautéed snails
- Chickpea Soup and Tripe in Broth
- All rice-based dishes
- Stewed wild boar with polenta
- Stewed donkey
- All dishes based on river and sea fish (spaghetti allo scoglio)
- All dishes based on pork, sheep and game (jugged hare and pheasant alla cacciatora)
- Rice biscuits, Dolce del Moro and Bramantini biscuits
- Local cured meats and cheeses (figadei and salami della Duja)
The typical dishes of Vigevano are those of Lomellina, based on the peasant civilization of the paddy field, with poor but genuine ingredients. The most famous is probably the goose salami, which goes with pork "salam d’la duja". Among the appetizers still the bath, the omelettes, the salad of nerves, the soaked fish, the borlotti bean salad. Among the first courses, rice is naturally the absolute dominator, for example with yellow risotto, risotto with barlande or meadow herbs, risotto with green beans, risotto with frogs and roasted risotto. There is no shortage of ravioli, tagliolini with asparagus, lasagna with giblets. Also popular are the chickpea soup, tripe in broth and dishes with asparagus, another typical product of Lomellina. The more traditional second courses are those based on snails and frogs, which are found less frequently today, otherwise pork, beef, the inevitable goose and Ticino fish such as eels and "bottine". Polenta is also a typical peasant dish. The boiled meat is also very popular. Finally, among the desserts, even if it is a little out of the area in Vigevano, you can easily find the famous offelle di Parona, while as regards homemade desserts, the virulà cake, white and black, is very common. As a tribute to the famous Bramante tower, Bramantini biscuits are also a typical souvenir in Vigevano.