Valmadrera is located on the shores of Lake Como, in the Lecco branch, which is overlooked by the marina. From the lake there is a small plain that reaches Lake Annone. It is surrounded by the Moregallo and the horns of Canzo on one side and Mount Barro on the other.
The cultivation of the fields, the breeding of livestock and the exploitation of the forest constituted the main occupation of the population. The historical settlement for Valmadrera is ascertained in Roman times, evidenced by the discovery of a tomb containing furnishings and found in the historic center of the town.
In the Middle Ages it was at the center of the discord between Milan and Como, which resulted in a ten-year war ended with the conquest of the Castle of San Dionigi. Towards the end of the thirteenth century it is possible to see the first delineation of the country. There were small groups of houses in San Dionigi, Caserta, the Ceppo and San Tomaso, gravitating around their respective churches.
In the events of Valmadrera, some families took on great importance, giving prestige to the town and leaving a significant mark. The decadence of one family determined the rise of another. In the early sixteenth century, the most important families were the Mandelli family around Caserta and the Bonacina family around the church of San Antonio. Then it was the turn of the Fatebenefratelli.
In the eighteenth century
The eighteenth century was a century full of initiatives. Agriculture and livestock were flourishing, the surrounding lands were very fertile, with large plowed areas towards the south and vineyards perched on the hills. Everyone brought the grapes to the great Fatebenefratelli press at the Church.
Towards the second half of the eighteenth century, an important agricultural development began. Silkworm became a normal practice for all peasant families in the eighteenth century. Three silk mills are also dated around the eighteenth century, located on the canals of the Rio Torto. At the end of the eighteenth century the Gavazzi family began to rise. Enterprising and farsighted, over a period of twenty years they became one of the most important silk industries in Lombardy and with them Valmadrera went from an artisan-type economy to an industrial one.
Church San Antonio Abate
In the early decades of the nineteenth century, the rich country wanted its new immense church, since the existing one was no longer sufficient for the increased population. And the new parish was so impressive that the writer Antonio Ghislanzoni described Valmadrera in an article of 1869:
“Valmadrera, for those who saw it in the distance, is an immense temple overlooking a group of small houses. The houses considered closely are not more petty nor more unadorned than in other rural villages. On the contrary, all of them, even the less showy, reveal the comfort, the good taste, the love of cleanliness and order, they have only one wrong: that of submit to a gigantic mass from which they are humiliated.”
The parish church, dedicated to San Antonio Abate, stands on a pre-existing building of which the sixteenth-century bell tower is preserved. Clemente Isacchi, Giuseppe Pollack, Simone Cantoni and above all Giuseppe Bovara took part in the project. The external aspect is due to the Cantoni, the internal aspect to the Bovara. The altar, designed by Bovara, is dominated by a small temple. Today there is the statue of the Risen Christ created by the sculptor Benedetto Cacciatori. On the sides of the high altar there are two frescoes by Raffaele Casnedi. The vault was frescoed between 1836 and 1845 by Luigi Sabatelli with a vision of the apocalypse and the representation, in the side plumes, of the four theological virtues.
At the altar of the Crucifix in the chapel that opens along the left aisle it is possible to admire the Dying Christ, one of the best works of the Monza painter Mosè Bianchi. Other works in the church are the picture of the Assumption of Giuseppe Bertini, the painting on panel representing the Crucifix with the Virgin and Saint John, attributed to Paolo Lomazzo.
The town of San Tomaso is located at 580 m above sea level, on a natural terrace, from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Como and the city of Lecco. From here you can admire the Grignetta, the San Martino and Due Mani, the Resegone and the Mount Barro, as well as the lakes of Annone and Pusiano, the course of the Adda and the lower Brianza. To ensure that San Tomaso remained the green lung of Valmadrera, the municipal administration has placed the town under the constraint since the 1970s. In October 2000 the Agriculture Museum was inaugurated, set up by the mountain community, where utensils, equipment and machinery used in farming activities are exhibited. The bedroom and kitchen of the nineteenth-century peasant have also been faithfully set up.
In this area you can still see many casotte. These structures were essential to take refuge in case of bad weather, to shelter the hay, to leave the tools of the peasant jobs and to season the cheese.
Sanctuary of San Martino or of the Madonna of the milk
The Sanctuary of San Martino rises above a promontory on the right of the Inferno stream in a dominant position with respect to the surrounding area. The first medieval settlement probably had military sighting functions, since it allowed control of the road that led from Bergamo to Como. It is likely that it was turned into a place of worship at the end of the 13th century. Dedicated from the beginning to San Martino, the church preserves a late-gothic image of the Madonna of the milk, much venerated by the local population. The image of the Madonna del Latte was a widespread iconography throughout the Upper Brianza area as early as the 1500s.
The architectural structure is very simple and sober. A single nave covered with a barrel vault, to which two side chapels are added. The triumphal arch, which houses the annunciation to the Virgin, separated the presbytery from the area of the faithful. The frescoes in the chapel with a Crucifixion with Mary, Saint Barbara, Saint Sebastian and Saint Roch date back to the end of the 14th century and are attributed to Tommaso Malacrida.
The territory of Valmadrera is rich in erratic boulders, that is to say large rocks transported to the valley floor by a glacier during the Quaternary era, which greatly fascinated Antonio Stoppani, a Lecco geologist. But it is Parè, the true jewel of Valmadrera. A small bay with its characteristic harbor that is slowly turning into a tourist pole overlooking Lake Como. The redevelopment of the entire lakefront, the pedestrian area and the enhancement of the large lawn allows you to fully experience this green-blue lung. Its coastline, already so loved by sailors and surfers, now also offers boat mooring. The possible cruises to the most famous villages of Lake Como are now a reality also in Valmadrera.
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