Travelling 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 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 Oltrepò Pavese .
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.
Unfortunately 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 with its small terrace at the back overlooking the plain. Great sunset! Del Castello restaurant
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 ( www.duepadroni.it).
Stef has just completed
about his experiences in Italy during the first few years (in Dutch). his first book An English translation will appear later in 2016. Interested? Send me a mail and have a look at my Facebook page.