On Sundays in the Springtime, families, cyclists and sports enthusiasts in training populate the Naviglio della Martesana, the long navigable canal that connects Milan with the Adda river and which, since the Nineties, has been flanked by a bike path. The canal was designed by none other than Leonardo da Vinci, with the aim of connecting the city with Lake Como. Inaugurated by Ludovico il Moro in 1496, the strip of water of Martesana runs 30 kilometres from Cassina de’ Pomm, in Via Melchiorre Gioia, to Cassano d’Adda, passing parks, farms and historic villas. As early as the XVII Century, in fact, Milan’s nobility began to colonise the left bank of the canal, building their out-of-town residences. The first is in Concesa - the large Neo-Renaissance construction which, today, hosts Parco Adda Nord. Moving ahead, there is Villa Aitelli which can be seen from a distance with its octagonal tower, while Villa Borromeo is striking for its beautiful gardens and its Neo-Classical harmony with touches of the Baroque. Waving at the coypus, the cute rodents that inhabit the canal, we head South towards Gorgonzola to admire the old docks, the wash basins and the house-bridge. In Groppello d’Adda, finally, an old wooden watermill brings us back in time to its construction in 1618.
The Vittoriale degli Italiani - the Extraordinary Dwelling of Gabriele D’Annunzio
Just a handful of kilometres from Milan stands one of the most eccentric and extraordinary homes in Italy. The original furnishings, the charming atmosphere and suffused light, the library, the spectacular park, all celebrate the genius of an eclectic and truly original man.