Day Trips from Milan: Vigevano
Vigevano is a gorgeous town not far from Milan that I have been lucky to have spent several glorious sunny days exploring.
The first visit was in 2013 with some new friends from the international school where my kids attend. I loved it so much that I took Chris back one late summer weekend last year and we wandered and enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the piazza in the sun.
This spring I returned with my mom and loved sharing this beauty with her. We had a caffé and brioche in Piazza Ducale, walked the center of town and did some shopping, then had a great lunch before heading home- in time to pick up the kids from school.
So lovely. So easy.
I’m sure there is much more than meets the eye in Vigevano- but each time I go I am drawn like a magnet to this gorgeous renaissance Piazza, named one of the most beautiful in Italy. (Who decides that I wonder? Doesn’t that sound like a fun job?)
The Piazza is lined with arched porticos and red rooftops covered in tiny chimneys which are fascinating. They are all different shapes, reportedly shaped like the towers from each city the Visconti family conquered.
Piazza Ducale is the heart of Vigevano and the city’s “drawing room”. It definitely is the place to stop and experience some magical la dolce vita. There are many cafés and restaurants bordering the piazza, most with a large terrace to sit and soak up the sun, year around.
Other things to see are the Footwear Museum, The Sforzesco Castle, Bramante’s tower (which you can climb and have a birds eye view of those beautiful rooftops + chimneys) and the Baroque Duomo, built in the 16th century.
The thing that’s different about Vigevano, compared to a few other other northern Italian towns I have visited- is that you feel like you’ve entered another place and time. It is not touristy at all. As you walk the cobblestone streets, you will see locals going about their daily errands, stopping for a caffé and catching up on the latest with their friends. But the backdrop is so perfect you almost feel like you are in a movie. It’s a gorgeous slice of Italy that many visiting Milan never experience.
If you are lucky enough to be in the area, Hop a train or jump in your car and enjoy a few hours in Vigevano. You won’t regret it!
Eat + Drink:
L’Oca Ciuca | Via XX Settembre 35, Vigevano, Italy
Risotto is the specialty of this town- and a great place to try it is at L’Oca Ciuca. (Thank you Jenny for the recommendation!) They also have lunch specials here, including homemade gourmet sandwiches or the pasta of the day if you don’t have a lot of time. When we went, the place was packed with locals and we were lucky to grab a table. I would definitely return to this lovely restaurant, just around the corner from Piazza Ducale. Apparently Frogs are another specialty of the area (close to the river) but I much prefer Risotto…
Osteria d’la Scua | Corso Della Repubblica, 11, Vigevano
A lovely family owned restaurant still in the center, but just a little bit further away from Piazza Ducale. This restaurant has local specialties but also foods from Sicily, since the owner is Sicilian. What a treat! The locals love this place, so reservations are highly recommended!
Pasticceria Colombo | Piazza Ducale, 40, Vigevano, Italy
Great place to get a coffee and pastry or cocktail and watch the world go by. Directly on Piazza Ducale, they have a large patio with seats in the sunshine, as well as seating and nice bathrooms inside.
See + Do:
The Visconteo-Sforzesco Castle
Built by the Visconti + later the Sforza families to keep watch over the road to Milan, it is one of the largest fortified buildings in Europe. It continues to undergo extensive renovation, but there are sections you can visit.
The Bramante Tower (Torre del Bramante)
Closed Mondays, see this website for opening times.
Finished by Bramante in the late 15th century, the tower is the town’s symbol and highest point with a view over the whole city and on a clear day- all the way to the Alps.
Leonardo’s Stables (the Scuderi Ducale) Castello Sforzesco | Palazzo Ducale
Home to several museums, and often holding art exhibitions, this space is beautiful to visit. Designed by Leonardo Da Vinci for Ludovico Sforza the stables originally held over 1000 horses.
Museo Internazionale della Calzatura “Pietro Bertolini” (Footwear Museum)
Castello Sforzesco, I Scuderia
Palazzo Ducale, Vigevano
Located on the first floor of Castello Sforzesco, this museum showcases the history of footwear with a wide array of design, shoes of historic value, relics and documents. Our favorite was the tall boot designed to look like Italy with all the regions individually stitched.
Cathedral of St. Ambrose | Piazza Ducale, Vigevano
The Duomo sits at one end of the stately Piazza Ducale. It is Baroque in architecture and design. As most churches do in Italy, this one is closed after lunch for part of the afternoon, so I suggest you check the opening hours upon your arrival to town if you’d like to visit.
Museum of Cathedral Treasures | Piazza Sant’Ambrogio 14 | Vigevano
Many of the treasures in this museum were donated by the Sforza family in the early 16th century. It is only open on the weekend, so time your visit accordingly if you wish to see the museum. (Hours listed on website: Saturday 3p-6.30 p, Sunday 9.30a-12.30p and 3p-6.30p)
Chiesa Saint Francesco + Piazza Saint Francesco
I adore this little red brick church and even more the sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi in the Piazza right outside the front doors. Worth a little detour from Piazza Ducale to see.
Location: 30 km southwest of Milan, along the Ticino River, and not far from the border of Piedmont.
Train: There are trains hourly from Porta Genova, the ride is 30 minutes and costs 3.60 eu.
Parking: I have always parked near Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, where there are usually plenty of metered parking spaces.
Happy exploring! (Read about more favorite day trips from Milan here)
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