Adda river

The Adda River is the main tributary of Lake Como and the fourth longest river in Italy; as it exits the Lario, it forms the small lakes of Olginate and Garlate (Lecco) and then continues its southward flow towards the eastern part of Brianza, marking the boundary between the two provinces of Lecco and Bergamo. The Martesana canal starts at Trezzo sull'Adda and runs for 30 km until it reaches Milan. The entire stretch is covered by a bike path where cyclists can ride from Lake Como to Milan in total safety. Along the way, typical "industrial archaeological" landscapes alternate with glimpses of totally uncontaminated nature. The memory of Leonardo da Vinci, with his wondrous works of water engineering, remains alive here in the Navigli district. His famous painting The Virgin of the Rocks was set in the most suggestive stretch of the Adda River.

The peaceful river life south of Lecco. The landscape here is framed by the mountains that surround Lake Como.

Dream or reality?...

The hamlet of Brivio near the bridge situated along the ancient border between the Duchy of Milan and the Serenissima Republic of Venice (Bergamo). Worth of note is the medieval castle that once belonged
to a noble family from Brivio.

Near Brivio, with ancient country houses. Right: a few miles further south, hills and small gorges characterize
the landscape that surrounds Imbersago.

The characteristic "Leonardo Da Vinci" ferry boats link Imbersago and Villa d’Adda. These vessels, rebuilt according to the designs of the Tuscan Genius, can only be operated by hand. In Imbersago you can find bike renting points and the boarding pier for boat cruises.

Navigation on the Adda river (photo Ingrid Anghileri).

The amazing bridge of St. Michael between Paderno and Calusco. At the time it was built (1887-89, the same period when the Eiffel Tower was built) it was the biggest arch bridge in the world. A real masterpiece of
19th century technology, it is still perfectly functional and operative today.

Left: the Adda River flanked for a long stretch by the Paderno canal. This canal was built in the 1700s to bypass non-navigable stretches of the river and connected to the Martesana canal to enable navigation
between Milan and Lake Como.

A small world, damp and shady, made of water and woods and scattered with ancient water works.
The symbiosis between the river and the canals form an extraordinary outdoor museum:
the Adda di Leonardo EcoMuseum.

Further downstream after Paderno, the Adda River becomes narrower and its depth decreases by 27 m. after less than 2 km. Turbulent rapids rush through an actual canyon, while the river bed is scattered with large rocks of bizarre shapes. Leonardo crossed this fairy tale region by foot; this is the place where he drew inspiration for his painting The Virgin of the Rocks (1483-86). Other drawings of these rapids by the Genius
are comprised in the Atlantic Codex.

Trezzo sull'Adda. At this point the river becomes a large meandering stream dominated by the Visconteo Castle. Right: view of the castle and the Taccani power station, one of the historical power plants
built in the Liberty style along the river banks.

The Martesana canal originates in Trezzo (see photo) exactly where the monumental complex of
Villa Gina and the Concesa Sanctuary are sited.

The Adda River at the confluence with the Brembo River. A perfect stopover for cyclists,
especially at lunchtime...

Left: the castle in Crespi d’Adda, residence of the Crespi family, built in mock-Medieval style. Nearby is the village designed by Cristoforo Crespi at the end of the 1800s, the best example at worldwide level of a
Workers’ Village, inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List. Right: Vaprio d'Adda in the vicinity.

Vaprio: the bridge that connects the provinces of Milan and Bergamo, flanked by the ancient Villa Melzi.

Villa Melzi of Vaprio is much older than its twin located in Bellagio. It was erected in 1482 along the banks of the Adda River as a political-strategic emblem, on the border between the Duchy of Milan and the Republic of Venice (Bergamo). Leonardo sojourned here in 1511. Just like its twin in Bellagio, Villa Melzi is still privately owned by the descendants of the Melzi family.

Vaprio: A glimpse of the Martesana canal and Villa Melzi. The bike path starts off from here and runs for 28 kms until it reaches via Melchiorre Gioia, near the central station.