The town of Vigevano is situated to the west of Pavia in Lombardy between the Rivers Ticinor, Sesia and Po. The town is the most important town in the fertile Italian rice producing region called Lomellina (also called the Holland of Lombardy), an immense plain containing many paddy fields and crossed by numerous watercourses.
Although we suggest you start your visit in Vigevano, to fully appreciate the arts and architecture of the Lomellina region it is necessary to leave Vigevano and explore other towns nearby.
Your tourist route in Vigevano and the Lomellina should start from the majestic Piazza Ducale in Vigevano, with its frescoed arcades and which contains the 17th century Cathedral, the famous Tower by Bramante, and also the Royal Palace of the Sforza.
Vigevano Cathedral was built by Francesco II Sforza following a plan by Antonio da Lonate (1456 c.-1541 c.), a lengthy job that was only finished around 1612. Enter the Cathedral, paying attention to the scenes depicted in the doorway of the façade.
Inside, the cathedral is best known for the Treasure, donated to the Cathedral by Francesco II Sforza in 1534. The treasury includes more than 100 precious objects, among which are various tapestries and precious manuscripts.
Back outside on the palazzo you can also see the castle tower and the castello. The Palazzo delle Dame and the Loggias are decoratively painted and finished by Bramante whose art works are visible - although unfortunately many of the original paintings are now lost.
Climb to the top of the tower for views down across Vigevano. Also to see in Vigevano there are some 17th and 18th century churches such as the Church of St. Bernard (1672) and Church of San Dionysius (1750). Among the palaces, the most notable are the Saporiti Palace (1828) and the Cagnoni Theatre (1873), in the neoclassic style.
Next head to Lomello, the town which gave its name to the region. In Lomello there are some important historic and architectural artefacts such as the 7th century baptistry of San Giovanni ad Fontes, erected in Longobard times - the church has an octagonal structure, a beautiful dome and it is surrounded by rectangular and circular chapels of Romanesque style.
The same architectural style is seen in the 11th century Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, with its extraordinary rectangular bell tower in the sides of which four large Roman archs are visible.
Mortara: art in the cathedral
Painting is well represented in the Cathedral of Mortara, where you can see a Crucifixion by Giovan Battista Crespi (aka Cerano) dating from 1610, and also important works by Giulio Cesare Procaccino and Genovesino.
There is also an interesting Virgin Mary of the Rosary (1578) by local painter Bernardino Lanino, while other interesting paintings here are by Girolamo Giovenone, with an altar piece of Virgin Mary and Child in the Church of San Lorenzo.
Close to Mortara you can visit the 5th century Abbey of St. Albino which, according to tradition, was rebuilt by Charles the Great.
Eating well in Lomellina: frogs!
Being a Land of channels, rivers and paddy fields, the local cuisine of Lomellina has many dishes arising from the local peasant tradition, based on frogs in particular, which thrive in the marsh environment.
One local dish born from the abundance of frogs is 'minestra in brodo di rane' (Soup with frogs). We also suggest tasting the "Guazzetto" (frogs, butter, oil and tomato), which is a popular local tit-bit.