Suggested as a road trip to wonder in the Lomellina rice fields. For those with bicycles and who have the time, it might be pleasant to ride around the countryside roads in the best seasons – spring and autumn are recommended.
ABBIATEGRASSO: THE JEWISH MONEY-LENDER AT COURT
About 20 kilometres from Milan and 5 kilometres from the river Ticino, in the 1500s Abbiategrasso was home to Emanuele Bassano, whose Jewish bank was located in Porta San Martino. Bassano, financially supported the Sforza family, who used to live in the citadel Castle. We recommend a visit to the Visconteo Castle, with the renowned Duchesses’ nursery above the present Council room, the church of Santa Maria Nuova and, next to it, the great arches built in 1497, Bramante’s last work in Lombardy.
THE STAR OF DAVID IN VIGEVANO’S NOT TO BE MISSED PIAZZA DUCALE
35 kilometres from Milan, in Lomellina, Vigevano was home to the French Jewish bankers in 1400, who loaned money to the Visconti and Sforza families. We highly recommend visiting the splendid Piazza Ducale, commissioned by Ludovico il Moro (1494), one of the most harmonious squares of the Renaissance. Perfectly rectangular, the square is surrounded on three sides by small buildings with porches and decorated façades. On the cobblestones, an ornamental Maghen David (six-pointed star); on one side, Bramante’s tower built in 1198 and finished in the 15th century thanks to the contribution of the Jewish bankers Galli, already in the town since 1435. They also provided for Bianca Maria Sforza’s dowry. Not far from the square, via Roncalli is also known as “the ghetto”. Factual note: today, Vigevani is a Jewish surname.
MORTARA’S SALAME D’OCA, JUST LIKE THE JEWISH SALAME
40 kilometres from Milan, Mortara, a town in Lomellina, is renowned for its markets and festivals. A famous festival is dedicated to the “salame d’oca”, the recipe of which is of Jewish origin. Already a business centre, Mortara was home to many Jews from 1467 to 1600, as witnessed by an illuminated manuscript kept in Milan’s Ambrosiana and dedicated to Baruch Ben Shmuel from Mortara in 1483, which reveals how educated his family environment was. The gothic Basilica of San Lorenzo (1375) and the neoclassical building of the Town Hall are worth a visit. Factual note: today, Mortara is a Jewish surname.