Lodi - Panorama
In the heart of the Po Valley, the Province of Lodi is agricultural land dotted with a fascinating array castles and shrines. The plain is gentle and even, interrupted here and there with stretches of water. The land was formed by the floodwaters of the river Adda. The Lodi plain is fertile with sub stratum of clay, used for the production of the artisan ceramics of the area. The territory boasts various protected areas and natural parks, notably the Park of South Adda, straddling Lodi and Cremona. The characteristic vegetation is the poplar tree, and the distinguishing features of the landscape are wetlands and swamps inhabited by many animal and bird species. The regional reserve of Monticchie is marshy but dotted with old mills and farmhouses. Other verdant areas are the Boscone estate and the Paradiso fish reserve.
Castles and churches are a distinctive trait of this area, dating from the era when the river Adda was an important defensive line of the Empire. Those who wish to tread the old Via Fracigena, which once connected ancient Rome to Gaul, should walk from Orio Litta to Corte Sant’Andrea, where there used to be an ancient ford used by pilgrims. Several museums tell the story of the ancient farming tradition such as Cavacurta, Cavenago d’Adda, Livraga, Mairago, Montanaso Lombardo and Sant’Angelo Lodigiano. The tour of historical centres and villas should take in the villages of Borghetto Lodigiano, Sant’Angelo Lodigiano with its Visconti Castle which is one of the best preserved in Lombardy, Camairago and Castiglione d’Adda, while in Codogno 16th century paintings in the Collegiata di San Biagio and the Santuario della Madonna di Caravaggio.
In Lodi Vecchio, the Romanesque Basilica of San Bassiano, dating from the fourth century A.D., should not be missed with its remarkable frescos from the first half of fourteenth century in an evocative setting.
Lodi retains its mostly medieval layout, starting from the remains of the Visconti Castle, which was built in 1370 alongside the city walls; moving on through Piazza della Vittoria, ringed with characteristic colonnades overlooked by the Cathedral and the Palazzo Comunale, the visitor arrives at the churches of San Francesco and Sant’Agnese which retain their austere, medieval appearance, and the thirteenth century church of San Lorenzo. Lodi is also the guardian of one of the most important relics of the Lombard Renaissance, the Santuario dell’ Incoronata, centrally planned in the Bramante style and embellished with stucco and frescos of rare beauty, created by the most important artists of Lodi and Lombardy. In addition, there are the Cistercian Abbey of Santi Pietro e Paolo and the twelfth century Cerreto Abbey, Villa Biancardi a Casalpusterlengo (Zorelsco district), the Villa Litta Carini at Orio Litta, the former convents of San Cristoforo and San Domenico at Lodi, now the headquarters of the Lodi provincial authorities.
The peaceful countryside, the scenic stretches of water and the excellent cuisine are an invitation to relaxation, but for those who like outdoor activities there are bike routes. sometimes alongside the stretches of water, sometimes exploring the artistic beauty of the towns. Sports like canoeing are available on the river Adda, located to the east of Lodi.
An interesting way of discovering the territory is to visit the Lodi farmsteads, such as that of Grazzanello, which has been converted into a fascinating agricultural museum. For those who appreciate craftsmanship, Lodi has a fine tradition of ceramics going back to the 16th century that is regarded as the jewel in Lodi’s cultural and economic crown, having obtained the DOC classification under the brand, “Vecchia Lodi,” the only DOC for handmade products in Lombardy. Lodi is listed by the Italian Association of Cities of Ceramics and the town centre contains many old workshops where traditional techniques are still employed.
In addition, there are a number of interesting museums to visit: the birthplace of S.Francesca Cabrini (Patron Saint of Emigrants) at Sant'Angelo Lodigiano and the Museo Cabriniano at Codogno, the Lamberti Art Collection at Codogno, the Paolo Gorini Anatomical Collection at Lodi, the Museo della Stampa e della Stampa d'Arte, the private collection, "The world of the nativity scene" at Salerano sul Lambro.
Many gastronomy festivals that take place during the year are devoted to local produce, drawing a great many tourists. A land so concerned with agriculture cannot fail to delight the palate.
The pride of local produce include cheeses, the most famous being Mascarpone, but also Pennerone, Lodi Granone, cheeses with flavours that these days are becoming hard to find. and the Raspadura, a grana-like fresh cheese traditionally served in thin slices cut with a special knife which makes the cheese curl in on itself. Gongorzola and Stracchino are also produced here. Typical dishes are: rice with sausage, fried polenta, hare stew and wild pigeon. Among the delicious recipes are the Uselin De Scapada, mouthfuls of bacon, liver and loin, frogs either fried or in a stew.
Among the starters are omelettes cooked in many way, including “Cun le urtis” (tips of very thin asparagus that grows wild) and “Rugnusa” (with sausage). Among the cheeses are the “Pannerone” (the name comes from the expression in the Lombard dialect “panera” which means cream. It is a soft, fatty cheese, and contrary to almost all cheese, does not undergo and salting which gives it a very characteristic taste).
For the festival of the city patron saint, San Bassiano on January 19th, it is the tradition to eat Buseca, boiled tripe with beans and filson (strings of boiled chestnuts).
Polenta is served with many dishes. One noteworthy dish is the “Pulenta pastissada,” made with sauce, ground beef, butter and raspadüra layered on the polenta. Vegetarians will appreciate the ratatuille, a pie served with polenta.
Finally, the desserts. The most typical Lodi cake is Tortionata, an almond cake with ancient origins. Let’s not forget the Easter lamb in pastry filled with cream, Lodi cannoli, which are eclairs filled with mascarpone, Codogno biscuits, Casale cake and amaretti.
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