The Landmark

January 23, 2013 / Places
Cigognola, Lombardia
cigognola1Travelling on a day trip south from Milan, you first pass Pavia (worth a visit) and then cross the rickety, century old Ponte della Becca that spans the Po and the Ticino river in one go in over a kilometer of rusty steel. Now you enter the Oltrepò Pavese and still have no idea of the hills ahead, as this northern part of the region is still flatland. But driving south you will soon discern the first hills and also notice its major landmark, the Castello di Cigognola.

This ancient castle is high up in one of the most northern hills and dominates the plain with its magnificent tower. It’s history goes back to the Middle Ages, when this was an important stronghold for the counts and dukes of Pavia, Milan and other feuds. The Beccaria, Visconti, the guelfs and the ghibelines fought for it and the castle changed hands frequently. For the last time in 1982 when the rich oil baron Gian Marco Moratti (brother of the owner of Inter Milan) got it out of the inheritance of his wife, Letizia, former major of Milan. The castle was virtually destroyed by fire that year and Moratti spent a significant amount of his riches to restore it to its former glory.

IMG_3354Unfortunately the castle is hardly ever open to the public, so its mostly to be admired from the outside. Driving up to the Cigognola village around it is worth the small detour however, as the town square is directly below the castle and there is a magnificent view from the little park with the  war monument nearby. For an excellent pizza or fish food pasta, visit the Del Castello restaurant with its small terrace at the back overlooking the plain. Great sunset!


Castello Cigognola


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.

7 Responses to “The Landmark”

  1. I like the 5th picture, it looks like those that are on the movies. I’ve never seen a castle before. But, if ever I planned to travel in Italy I’ll put it on my list. The beaches, castles and historical places. I also wanna ride on the Gondola, while being serenade :) Lovely Italy! See you soon!

  2. Joanne De Cecchis

    My grandmother was born in Broni however I have not been able to get any information about the village and its main church. Would you be able to help me? Thank you. Joanne De Cecchis

  3. Joanne De Cecchis

    My grandmother was born in Broni however I have not be able to get any information about the village and its main church. Would you be able to help me. Thank you. Joanne De Cecchis

  4. Kathy Weeks

    I studied for a year at the University of Pavia in the late 60s as part of a group from the U.S. and it was such a life highlight…never to be forgotten. My three best friends and I hung out every day with our new-found Italian student friends, who took us out into the countryside, but I don’t remember ever being in this small town or castle you describe. It is a wonderful part of Italy, for sure.

    I have been back to Italy numerous times, bringing small groups to savor and enjoy all the loveliness and zest that Italy offers… and back to Pavia twice to visit my old sweetheart from those long ago days. (:

    Enjoyed your post. Would love to visit your B&B some day.

    grazie e ciao~
    Kathy (Tesoro Travel~my home-based business)

  5. What a dream, thank you for taking me there!

    I hope to visit your B&B, that would be another dream!
    We will visit Milano in Settembre but won’t be seeing any sights (only visiting friends this time)…..However, if we happen to go on a day trip- I am going to beg for a ‘stop-in-and-say Salve! @ your B&B.



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