Taking advantage of a Easter Monday, although not exceptional, we took the opportunity to visit the small village of Pizzighettone located in the Cremona plain on the banks of the Adda River. A small village that embodies a parenthesis of rich and extensive history, completely to be discovered.
The origins of Pizzighettone
Its origin dates back to the Etruscan era with the name of Acerra, a small village that stood on the right bank of the river about a kilometer from the current town. The same was subsequently conquered first by the Gauls and then by the Romans, but with the end of the Roman Empire it decays and the traces are lost.
The population therefore moves to a peninsula that enters the river and makes it easy to look at the same: Pizzighettone is born.
The origin of the name can be traced back, probably, to Germanic-Celtic words such as: Pizz (peninsula) and Ghe Ton (road and/or fenced place). This is due to the fact that the continuous passage of goods and men, due to the ford next to which the city rises, raises the need to control these flows with the birth of a castle on its banks in 1133 by the Cremonese who built first a circle of walls of wooden palisades which is subsequently transformed into a more solid in dairy.
At the beginning, as already mentioned, the river was waded, but later the ferries were set up which will remain in operation even when the Austrians build bridges.
Pizzighettone is one of the few fortified villages both on the right bank of the river and on the left as normally similar villages have fortifications only on one side, also due to a question of costs, but the need to protect the village from attacks by both sides forced the Visconti into such an investment one from which they absolutely had to return. For this reason, the al Rivellino institute was set up to protect the front door of the city, a checkpoint where it was necessary to pay for the passage of goods and people.
The Visconti immediately understand the importance of Pizzighettone and confirm the town as a free village, already declared as such by Barbarossa, proclaiming it a land separated from the Cremona area by responding directly to the Dukes of Milan.
Pizzighettone and history
In 1524 Pizzighettone saw his “guest” the French King Francesco I taken prisoner following his army’s defeat in Pavia and therefore forced to stay under surveillance in the Torre del Guado. Far from being a prisoner dictated by barbarous tortures, the monarch maintained a certain standard of living having, for example, free access to the fortress and the fact that it was treated with all the regards that his class and position deserved.
The detention of the King ended in May 1525 and once back in France he donated some gifts to the small village to thank him for the hospitality and respect towards him.
Among the other historical figures of which Pizzighettone was the protagonist there were Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered the fortress of the city, and the Habsburg King Joseph II of Habsburg-Lorraine who transformed the walls into life sentences. This was due to the surplus of prisoners that Milan found itself facing due to the decadence of Venice to which it sold them to embark them on the galleys.
Pizzighettone preserves one of the most beautiful city walls in Europe with its 2 kilometers long, 12 high and 15 wide. But it’s not just its size that makes it so unique if not all of its complex internal structure articulated in environments with barrel vaults, casemates, shooting positions and stores for a total of 93 rooms. 800 meters inside the curtain wall that represent a unique experience of its kind. A real total immersion in history.
The guided tour, lasting about 1 hour and a half, takes place in Italian only by the volunteers of the walls at a cost of € 5.
For information on initiatives, schedules and dates, you can visit THIS site.