Brivio, located in a strategic point, has played a decisive role since Roman times. It was from here that it was possible to cross the road that connected Bergamo with Brianza and the Como area.
This is demonstrated by some marble slabs dated around the 3rd and 4th centuries. A document attesting to Brivio‘s existence is a notarial deed dated 960, concerning a donation by Alcherius, lord of Airuno, to the plebeian church of Sant’Alessandro.
Brivio has assumed considerable importance over the centuries, especially in the Middle Ages. The remains of the ancient imposing Castle bear witness to this. Nestled in a beautiful natural setting, it still retains a truly extraordinary charm. In the 10th century, the small village played an important role in defending against Hungarian invasions. It is in this period that the Castello di Brivio rises. It belonged gradually to the counts of Lecco, to the bishops of Bergamo, to the Milanese Visconti and in the ‘400 to the Serenissima. In the mighty towers are Roman altars and the remains of a medieval church. It should be remembered that in ancient times the Adda river served as a state border between the Most Serene Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Milan.
In the Promessi Sposi we read that Renzo, to escape from Milan, crossed the Adda. He was saved by a relative who lived in the Bergamo area. The town of Brivio owes its charm and its beauty to the river that enhances its appearance. In this area it forms a loop that delimits a marshy area, rich in biologically interesting animal and vegetable species such as water lilies, marsh reeds and a protected species of iris. The local economy was also based on professional fishing, which used beds and woodsheds to promote the reproduction and breeding of fish species.
Brivio’s particular position was studied by Leonardo da Vinci, who stayed there to study a project that would make the Adda completely navigable; it is thought that the landscape of the Virgin of the Rocks refers to this stretch of river. Certainly the Virgin of Grace is Leonardo‘s, located inside the Oratory of San Leonardo. Brivio was the birthplace, among others, of Cesare Cantù and Ignazio Cantù. Also Teresa Borri, second wife of Alessandro Manzoni, was born in Brivio. The hamlet of Beverate gave birth to San Simpliciano, Archbishop of Milan from 397 to 401.
Beautiful walks or bike rides along the North Adda Park with all its colors, different in every season. Shades of green next to the warm touches of brown, and the cheerful bustle of swans and mallards that together with the coots represent the fauna that populates the area. It is one of the most significant areas from an environmental point of view. It is an incredibly suggestive and uncontaminated territory rich in biodiversity.
An alternative route is in fact the navigation of the river with the Addarella boat or by canoe. Along the river there is also the Antica Filanda Carozzi. It was built in the early 1800s in a neoclassical style. It has a series of large windows showing the importance of the silk industry in Brianza. Along the towpath we reach the birthplace of Cesare Cantù (1804-1895), a small museum where works and memories of the famous Italian historian, writer and politician are collected.
Villages and buildings
Brivio has a fascinating history. It is possible to retrace it through its villages and palaces. To name a few Villa Piccinini of Marsciano, which preserves a seventeenth-century fresco depicting the deposition of Jesus Christ from the cross. Villa Gerosa, a nineteenth-century building with a garden and walls on which the icon of Sant’Antonio Abate is placed. Another example of sober Baroque is the Oratorio Madonna della Neve. The Bastille Bastion, built in 1409 on a pre-existing bastia, built by Francesco Sforza and placed on a hill in view of the Adda. Today it is a fascinating cultural destination.
From the Bastille it is possible to proceed to the Adda Park towards the towpath on the river. Then, continuing on the cycle path, you can reach the workers’ village of Crespi d’Adda. You can also go in the opposite direction, towards Lake Olginate and then continue towards Lecco.