You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Up to the Grand St-Bernard and through the newly reopened tunnel
Our traditional stop in the B+B L'Ospitalità del Castello in Settimo Vittone near Ivrea, at the foot of the Aosta Valley, 19 February 2018. In the background is the 9th century pieve, or rural church with a baptistery.
The next morning, 20 February, we're off via the Milan western ring-road or tangenziale for our first visit to Lodi, between Milan and Piacenza.
This is an Airbnb flat in the Renaissance-ish Palazzo Mozzanica in central Lodi, built in the late 15th century by Count Lorenzo Mozzanica over a small Gothic castle from the preceding century that was probably owned by the Count of Lodi and lord of Piacenza, Giovanni Vignati, from 1403 to 1416 (when he lost out to the Visconti of Milan and killed himself in prison).
The kitchen above, a bit of an afterthought, but fine for reasonably short persons.
The dining room, if that's what it is, from the kitchen
Melvin the Doge and some of the very old decoration remaining along the base of the dining room walls
Upstairs, a combination salon and bedroom under the eaves
A kind of salon leading to the bathroom. As mentioned in the listing, there is meant to be no Wifi here, but in fact we could pick some basics, like email headers, out the bathroom window from our host's office on the ground floor. So that's good.
Our stairway -- like most Italian urban ex-palaces, it seems mostly populated by law 'studios' or offices, but our host on the ground floor is an architect.
The central courtyard -- part of the lore of the palace is that in July 1509 King Francis I of France slept here, though that's doubtful given the date. Possibly the French King Louis XII is meant, as evidently he did stop in at Lodi in 1509 in pursuing the War of the League of Cambrai.
In the courtyard, and the front gate
Lodi is a particularly good choice for our visit to the region because, in addition to its own many touristic virtues, it's only 30km south of the Brera Art Gallery and the Castello Sforzesco in central Milan, not to mention only 15km southwest of Crema. (We visited Cremona a few years ago, the perennial enemy of Crema in the Middle Ages, and we want to make up the set with a visit to Crema as well.)
Portraits of leading Visconti and Sforzas are said to be among the decorations above the door.
Specifically, the figures in the medallions are said to represent Giangaleazzo Visconti, Isabella of Aragon (who was married to Giangaleazzo Sforza), Francesco and Bianca Maria Sforza, but it's hard to see too many likenesses there.
The Palazzo Mozzanica on the Via XX Settembre and the Via Volturno predestrian cross road
Now we're off to scope out the sights of Lodi, Italy.
(There is a Lodi in New Jersey, USA, exactly 13.77km south of where I grew up -- one of its main streets is even called Garibaldi Ave.)
At the head of 20 September Street, that's the Chiesa di San Francesco.
And farther along our side street, the Via Volturno, that's the Chiesa San Filippo Neri.
Off the Via Volturno, this is the Piazza Mercato or market square, and the back of the cathedral.
It's time for a very good piadina, in a diner named 'Bonsai' without explanation.
The apse of the Duomo di Lodi
Present day Lodi is a city of about 45,000 citizens on the river Adda, the capital of the province of Lodi in the Lombardy region.
We're strolling from the Piazza Mercato through to the Piazza Broletto, the courtyard of the city hall. Lodi began life as a Celtic settlement, known in Roman times as Laus Pompeia, well-positioned near a convenient crossing of the river Adda. It evidently had become the seat of a Christian diocese by the late 3rd century, and Saint Bassianus, patron saint of the city, became the Bishop of Lodi in about 378.
The present City Hall, appropriately enough, is in the medieval 'broletto', or assembly space for the voting population during the period of the communes, usually an open arcade with administrative offices above, as here.
Apparently already an early republican commune of some sort by the early 11th century, Lodi resisted the territorial ambitions of Milan, and in AD 1111 the Milanese destroyed Lodi entirely. A generation or two later, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, hoping to ring Milan with states sympathetic to himself, helped to build and charter a new Lodi in its present location in 1158. The original site still exists as Old Lodi, Lodi Vecchio, 8km to the west.
Entering the Piazza della Vittoria in front of the Duomo, from the Broletto.
This central piazza is one of the most beautiful main squares anywhere, surrounded by porticoes on all four sides, and dominated by the Duomo, the Basilica Cattedrale della Vergine Assunta, its tower on the right and the Broletto on the left.
Construction of the Romanesque cathedral began in 1158, with support from Barbarossa and materials (including Roman inscriptions) brought over from the Old Lodi. The first phase was completed in 1163 and in November 1163 the relics of St Bassianus were formally translated to the new crypt, at which Barbarossa is said to have been present.
The Gothic portal and portico. The second building phase had ended by 1180, though the façade was not completed until 1284. In 1958-1965 some unwelcome updatings made in the 18th century were removed to restore the original look.
One of us collects photos, from all round Italy, of the rest of our party with a hand in the lion's mouth.
The Broletto on the right and the Dall'Oro house straight ahead, restored in the 1920s.
The Duomo is closed for midday, of course, so we'll come back later.
The Corso Roma, the principal shopping street and one of the anchors of the medieval city-planning grid. The centro storico part of the city was laid out strategically on a hill or terrace bounded on one side by the Adda river and on two sides by swamps -- main streets begin as wide boulevards but narrow significantly as they approach this central piazza, for defensive purposes.
We're standing in the middle of the Piazza della Vittoria and waving the tiny Sony camera around the four sides. The rubbish trucks are clearing up after today's street market in the square. On the far side, to the right of the truck on the left, is the Palazzo Vistarini, home of the Caffé Vistarini, which became our favorite dining establishment during our visit.
Swinging our tiny Sony camera all round the piazza
Still swinging our tiny Sony camera all round the piazza
This is the Corso Umberto I alongside the Broletto; we're looking for the grocery store said to be along here.
The 14th century fountain in the Piazza Broletto
We're just killing time at the moment.
A quick stop back at our digs in the Palazzo Mozzanica on the Via XX Settembre
The Franciscan-looking 13th century Church of St Francis at the head of XX Settembre Street -- also closed for midday.
We're back at the Duomo in a timely manner.
A nave with two aisles, with huge pillars of brick
The main altar on a raised presbytery, with a raised crypt behind
The two entrances to the crypt behind the choir stalls
Interesting though faded frescoes behind the altar
A 15th century group of the dead Christ
The bas-relief above the frescoes is said to be from the 12th century.
Down into the crypt
The crypt is the oldest part of the cathedral.
The crypt is the oldest part, but its altar dates from the 19th century, built to hold the relics of St Bassianus (either the first or an early Bishop of Lodi), the city's patron saint.
We also collect photos of St Roch, or Rocco, proudly showing off his plague buboes. The cult of the 14th century St Rocco was super-trending through northern Italy around the time of the plague years of the late 15th century.
The altar above the crypt
A Last Judgment fresco from the 15th century
That was refreshing.
Back to our palace. Now for a nap.
Next: Some more sightseeing in Lodi.