- To spend a wonderful day on the Naviglio Grande
- To admire, from the outside, Villa Clerici and its splendid staircase over the river
- To see a historic bridge over the Naviglio Grande
- To admire a medieval wash house
- To take a pleasant summer walk
Castelletto, a hamlet of Cuggiono, in the province of Milan, is a small town between the Lombard countryside, the Naviglio Grande and the Ticino river, a destination for pleasant walks along the towpath of the canal dating back to 1200, but also a place that hides priceless treasures historical value and a legend linked to Leonardo da Vinci.
Castelletto di Cuggiono is also worth a visit simply to admire Villa Annoni and its wonderful park or the city museum , which preserves important historical artifacts, but first let’s take a pleasant walk along the Naviglio.
The starting point
The starting point is the stone bridge, from here , we notice two turrets between the trees, those of Villa Clerici which originally must have been a small castle or a medieval fortress, born as an outpost for the control of the Ticino river, which over time an important villa as explained by the cultural guide of Cuggiono, Enrico Rainoldi : “Actually we call the castle of Castelletto, in reality it is the villa of 1680. This was a villa of delight of the Clerici family, when it was built, at least in 1680 there was another house belonging to another important family, the Crivelli. Most famous person was Urban III, Pope Urban III. “
In 1700 the Clerici family (wealthy bankers) by incorporating some buildings, expanding the square footage, transformed it into an imposing building to the point that to flaunt the wealth they inserted 365 windows in the Villa, one for each day of the year and twelve balconies, one for every month of the year. But there is more. “Inside there are frescoes from the Tiepolo school” , Enrico Rainoldi tells us. The famous painter, on the other hand, was employed by the Clerici family in the decoration of their palace in Milan. Villa Clerici was also enriched with a terraced garden sloping down towards the river , avenues and statues and above all a majestic Baroque staircase that reached the waters of the Naviglio.
When the Clerici family fell into ruin, the villa was sold. Before its final abandonment it was also used as a spinning mill. Villa Clerici is currently privately owned. In the past it was immortalized by the director Ermanno Olmi in the film: “The tree of the hooves”.
The stone bridge
Let’s go back to the starting point or the humpback bridge that connects the two banks of the Naviglio. A construction born in the area where the port stood around 1544 and which over time has undergone several renovations. Let’s hear from Enrico Rainoldi: “The bridge has always been there since the Naviglio Grande was built in 1200. In 1544 the landowners decided to rebuild the bridge, which in the meantime had collapsed and was made of wood. In 1574 the same owners gave a mandate to the engineer Lonati for the construction of a stone bridge, which was raised in 1630. It had too low arches and did not allow the crossing of bulky loads, such as wood that was brought to Milan ” .
The legend of Leonardo
Legend has it that the bridge was designed by Leonardo da Vinci. But it is so? “The legend that Leonardo had the idea and in any case the project of this bridge clearly cannot be, as the dates do not coincide, because Leonardo arrived in Milan in 1492 and left in 1500, so in good times other than the construction of the bridge itself “ . So tells us the cultural guide of Cuggiono, Enrico Rainoldi.
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN Cuggiono
Not far from the bridge , but its opposite bank, there is the splendid washhouse of medieval origin , while proceeding on the towpath in the direction of Bernate Ticino, you will notice a tower rising up among the trees. It belongs to the Rubone Village , an archaeological area now closed to the public.
How do I get to Castelletto di Cuggiono
Castelletto di Cuggiono can be reached from the A4 motorway, Marcallo-Mesero exit, then expressway to Malpensa, Cuggiono Sud exit, then Sp 117. In the village, follow via Annoni until you reach the stone bridge.