The Battle of Pavia

March 25, 2015 / Local Interest
Pavia, Lombardia

On February the 24th, 1525, exactly 490 years ago now, the decisive battle that determined the supremacy over Northern Italy was fought in the large Visconti Park, just north of the city of Pavia in Lombardy. This battle is renowned for being the first example of “modern” warfare and also as being the first one in which hand-held firearms played a decisive role.

After years of struggle for the possession of Lombardy and a long siege of Pavia the French army suffered a devastating blow (comparable to the one at Agincourt) in which many high ranking commanders were killed and the French king, Francois I was caught. The emperor Charles V won and confirmed the Spanish possession of Lombardy for a long time to come. There are many artworks in museums all over the world that depict scenes of this battle.


Legend has it that after being caught Francois was led away from the battlefield to a cascina, farmhouse, in order to eat some food. Unfortunately the farmer’s wife only had a few edible things available and so she had to improvise a meal from the broth, the eggs and the stale bread she could provide.

Francois, being very hungry, appreciated the resulting soup so much that once freed and back in Paris he ordered his court chef to prepare it often. The improvised dish subsequently became known as the now famous Zuppa Pavese and is still served in restaurants of the region today.


The battle is reenacted every two years in September at the small town of San Genesio ed Uniti, between Pavia and Milan.

Stef Smulders

by Stef Smulders

Stef is a Dutch expat now living the dolce vita in the Oltrepò Pavese wine region, an undiscovered Tuscany 50 km south of Milan. 

With husband Nico & dog Joia he runs a B&B Villa I Due Padroni (

Stef has just completed his first book about his experiences in Italy during the first few years (in Dutch).
An English translation will appear later in 2016. Interested? Send me a mail and have a look at my Facebook page.

5 Responses to “The Battle of Pavia”

  1. Roseann

    I don’t quite understand that picture – are the eggs raw in the broth? Or have you removed the yolks from the whites and cooked the yolks in the hearty broth? Or is that a picture of raw eggs in broth and they will then be put in the oven and baked so the egg whites cook and turn white? I’m so confused.

    • Gale in CT

      Roseann – I thought the same thing when looking at the photo. So, I Googled the recipe. It says to crack two eggs over toasted bread. Slowly pour boiling stock over the eggs. Evidently the traditional way is only the boiling stock is used to cook the eggs, but they only get partially cooked. If you want more well done, pass the bowl under a broiler. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. I think I’d want my eggs soft boiled in texture and would use the broiler method. Buon appetite!


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