Beginning our tour from the northern area of the town we visit the romanesque church of Saint Peter in Golden Ceiling, founded in the 8th century and rebuilt in the 12th century - the basilica was consecrated in 1132. Inside the church, in the presbytery, we can admire the magnificent Saint Augustine’s Ark, a masterpiece dating back to the second half of the 14th century. Saint Augustine’s remains are preserved under the altar, inside a crystal urn contained in a silver box of the Longobard epoch. In the 8th century the sacred relics were transferred by the Longobard king Liutprando from Sardinia to Pavia.
Let’s visit the crypt. Here the bones of the Roman philosopher Severino Boezio are preserved in a modern urn, on the altar. The adviser of the king Teodorico was accused of treason, imprisoned and beheaded by the king in 525. Boezio and the church of Saint Peter in Golden Ceiling are mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy (Paradiso, Canto X 127-129). The triplet has been carver on a marble tablet fixed on the façade of the church.
Now let's go to the Castle. The impressive building was begun by Galeazzo II Visconti in 1360 and finished in 1365 (only five years!). The ancient residence of the Visconti and Sforza was characterized by four corner towers, an inside courtyard and a deep moat. Today only two towers survive. At present the castle houses the Civic Museums.
Walking down Corso Strada Nuova, the ancient Roman Cardo, on the left we find the Univerity (it is one of the oldest in Europe). The Studium Generale was founded by Galeazzo II Visconti in 1361. The northern courtyards, the most ancient part of the building, go back to the 15th century. The complex was enlarged and renewed in successive stages from the 17th to the 19th century. The main entrance is marked by two marble medallions portraying the profiles of Galeazzo II Visconti and the king Lotario. There are a lot of famous university teacher who taught here, among them we can list: Ugo Foscolo, Alessandro Volta, Vincenzo Monti, Lazzaro Spallanzani, Camillo Golgi.
Piazza della Vittoria, the main square of Pavia, is the heart of the town. Its present conformation goes back to the 14th century. The southern side of the square is delimited by the Broletto , the ancient Town Hall. Walking along the Broletto we get to piazza del Duomo where we can see the remains of the Civic Tower(11th century) which fell in 1989.
The Cathedral preserves the mortal remains of Saint Siro, the first bishop of Pavia and its patron saint. The building was begun in 1488 and finished in 1933. Really the façade (1895) has been left unfinished: the marble cover is absent. Among the architects who projected the cathedral we are proud to mention Donato Bramante. The dome (1885), projected by the architect Carlo Maciachini, is the third largest in Italy.
Now let’s go to corso Garibaldi to get to the renowned basilica of Saint Michael. The romanesque church, where Frederick I Barbarossa was crowned (1155), was rebuilt in the 12th century making use of the local sandstone. The façade shows seven horizontal strips sculpted with bas reliefs representing hunting scenes, animals, birds, double-tailed mermaids, dragons and plant volute cornices. All the lunettes over the portals show a sculpted archangel Michael.
Inside, the church has the shape of the latin cross. It is divided into a nave and two aisles; there are the women galleries and a suggestive crypt. The north part of the transept contains Teodote’s crucifix (10th century), made of embossed silver.
We end our tour on the banks of the river Ticino, where we can have a rest looking at the Covered Bridge. The present bridge was rebuilt after the bombings of the II World War and it was inaugurated in 1951. The quarter Borgo Ticino is settled on the right bank of the river.
The Piazza Ducale - Ducal Square, Renaissance heart of Vigevano, is a rectangle measuring 134 metres by 48 metres. It's surrounded, on three sides, by low and even buildings, with arched porticoes, supported by granite columns; the fouth side is delimited by the concave, baroque façade of the cathedral.
In 1492, Ludovico Maria Sforza, nicknamed "il Moro", commissioned the square in order to create a prestigious forecourt to the castle. The architect who planned it was probably Donato Bramante, whose presence in Vigevano is testified during Ludovico's rule, just as Leonardo da Vinci.
The Tower of the Castle or Bramante's Tower , dominates the squadre; it was built in several phases and it is make up of stepped parts with a double battlement.
The Castle is situated at the town's highest point; it was built by order of Luchino Visconti, duke of Milano, in 1345. Two years later, Luchino commissioned the building of the strada coperta, a raised and covered way of 164 metres of lenght, which joined the castle to a fortress: the Rocca di Belreguardo afterwards called Rocca Vecchia. During the Sforza's rule, the castle was enlarged and its rooms were decorated and frescoed. It became a magnificent residence, suitable for lodging the Sforza court. The stables and the Loggia delle Dame were built; open galleries were added to the Falconiera - the building used to breed falcons - and to the bridge connecting it to the castle.
The Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Ambrogio, was started in 1532, by order of Francesco II Sforza, Ludovico's son; it was designed by Antonio da Lonate. The present baroque façade, planned by the Spanish bishop Juan Caramuel y Lobkovitz, was erected towards the year 1680. The transformation undertaken by the bishop, involved also the demolition of the 15th century ramp which rose up from the centre of the square to the castle
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