On the recommendation of a friend, one of our last fun trips with Mom on this “Mother-Daughter Trip of 2019” was a day trip to Vigevano from Milan, known as the “Ideal Town”; home of a modern-day “Museum of Shoes” and boasting a beautiful piazza and castle.
Piazza Ducale was built in the 1490’s following the wishes of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. This was Sforza’s preferred residence outside of Milan. Donato Bramante is said to have contributed to the 15th century Lombard architectural design, with a fortress and the Viscontean-Sforzesco castle adjacent to the piazza.
Vigevano is conntected to the fashion world because it was the premier manufacturing hub for shoes at one time. In fact, the stiletto heel was invented here in 1953 and there is a “Museum of Footwear” that traces the history of shoes and Vigevano’s place in this history. At its manufacturing height, Vigevano produced 20 million pairs of shoes in a year!
We were impressed with the Civic Picture Gallery as well as the Museum of Footwear. The Saint Ambrose’s Cathedral was not open during our visit. We decided to enjoy a leisurely lunch rather than tour the Ducal Palace- maybe next time. There are beautiful stables commissioned by Ludovico and designed along the lines of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings found in the Codex Atlanticus.
The town has many signs and posters celebrating its connection with Leonard da Vinci due to 2019 being the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death. Leonardo worked as an engineer and artist in residence for the Duke, Lodovico Sforza, known as “Il Moro,” for over 20 years.
The Castle and the Piazza Ducale evoke da Vinci’s designs for the “Ideal Town,” as does the Sforzesca, with its network of canals, mills and the Colombarone, the first example of a Lombard farm. There are so many towns like this throughout Italy. Scratch the surface and you will find history come alive.
We returned home, safe and sound, and spent the last few days with Mom around Milan visiting museums and watching a big parade of ‘Alpini’s’- they are military reserve people from the mountain regions who are called upon for rescues and, in the past, during wartime, to defend Italy from outside aggression.
Over 500,000 of the Alpini and their families were in town. It was great fun seeing them everywhere!
We enjoyed dinner at home and birthday parties with friends. Having Mom in Europe for several weeks was terrific- now who is next?