Azzone Visconti in his decade as lord of Milan, made the city of Lecco a very important military stronghold. We can dare to say that he was the founder of the current Lecco.
Thanks to his works, the village progressed and assumed the form we know today. He fortified the village, built a castle by the lake and built a wall that enclosed it, that is the current historic center. Before the Visconti domination, the current historic center was unlivable and unhealthy due to the high level of the lake and resided in the high districts, Laorca, S. Giovanni, Rancio, Castello, each independent with its own church and its own cemetery.
A defensive system
In the village was placed one of the two castles of the garrison that guarded Lecco surrounded by triangular-shaped walls. It was accessed through three gates: Porta Milano, the current vicolo Torre, which today remains the Viscontea Tower, which dominated the whole village, the Vianova gate, the current beginning of Via Bovara and the Porta Santo Stefano, with a tower on which at the end of the nineteenth century the bell tower of the Basilica of San Nicolò was erected.
The most effective representation of the village is the fresco found in the Castle of Melegnano dating back to the first half of the century XVI.
A very complex and articulated defensive system: each door was in fact equipped with a rivellino and in the same years the so-called battery, a crescent-shaped defensive bulwark, was added to the Porta Nuova. In addition to this, defensive towers were built which, together with that of the castle and the Torrione, served to guard the walls, which were embattled and surrounded by a moat filled with a stream.
Ponte Azzone Visconti
To complete the defensive system, the port was also fortified and some underground tunnels connected the strategically most important areas within the fortification walls of Lecco. Parts of the walls can still be seen in the Vallo delle mura and near the churchyard of the Provost church of San Nicolò, which at the base of the bell tower, preserves the seventeenth-century tower from which long stretches of the original underground walkways still branch off.
Then he built a stone bridge over the Adda, the point where the lake ceases, and the Adda starts again, with a very excellent tower, for each head, adding a castle in the margin of the lake. The construction of the bridge over the river Adda was significant both from a strategic and symbolic point of view. Originally it had eight round arches, to which another 3 were added to avoid the flooding of the city of Como; the excavated material then served to build the island of Viscontea or the island of Pescarenico. The appearance of the bridge as it appeared at the beginning of the sixteenth century is recorded by a painting dated 1529 exhibited in the castle of Melegnano. The bridge offers a beautiful view during the evening when it is illuminated by powerful lighthouses that enhance the beautiful stone arches.
Print of an ancient copper engraving dating back to 1760-1771.
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