The Ca ‘Granda Heritage Foundation brings to life and acquaint the public with a Lombard territory with a unique history: that of the ancient lands of the Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico di Milano. A heritage of all, ranging from Ticino to Adda, the result of six centuries of donations, to be discovered thanks to still little-known rural itineraries, food and wine experiences, shopping in the farmhouse and a rich and varied calendar of outdoor events. To enhance this treasure of nature and culture, the Oasi Ca ‘Granda has recently been created ) Its origins take us far. The name derives in fact from that of the ancient Ospedale Maggiore in Milan, the current Policlinico, founded in 1456 and affectionately called “Ca ‘Granda” because it welcomed and cared for everyone, especially the most needy. Over the centuries, popes, nobles and bourgeois donated land and farmsteads to the hospital, to be rented to support free care and to be cultivated to feed patients, the poor and orphans.
A unique heritage in the world, with 8,500 hectares of land, 100 farmhouses and various religious buildings, defended over the centuries by building speculation and now also enhanced from a tourist point of view. Three abbeys inside the oasis. In that of Mirasole, a 1200 jewel donated to Ca ‘Granda by Napoleon after the hospital had treated the French soldiers, you can visit the cloister, the ancient orchard, the frescoed church, the permanent exhibition with the relics of San Carlo Borromeo and Sant’Ambrogio and the solidarity shop with products from Italian monastic experiences. Equally fascinating is the abbey of Chiaravalle, founded in 1135 by San Bernardo, with the beautiful bell tower – known as Ciribiciaccola – and the complex of frescoes created between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries by Bernardino Luini and the Fiammenghini brothers. The abbey of Morimondo is original, built on several levels in typical Lombard red brick in 1134 by 12 Cistercian friars who arrived from France who, taking advantage of a depression, gave life to a rare example of a vertically developed cloistered building. Then there are the small peasant villages, such as Zelata, in the Pavia area, with a farmhouse and old mill described by the Milanese poet Antonia Pozzi, who spent many summers here in the 1930s as a guest in her grandparents’ house. Also worth seeing is the enchanting village of Fallavecchia, near Morimondo, and the small agricultural center Ronchetto delle Rane, just outside Milan, once inhabited exclusively by the workers of the farmhouse. In the Oasi Ca ‘Granda there are not even farmhouses, in some of which it is still possible to buy agricultural products. Among the most interesting is the large and still active Fornace farmhouse, whose name derives from having been a furnace for the production of tiles and bricks to be used for the construction or expansion of the properties of the Ca ‘Granda.
The nearby Cascina Morona was donated in 1681 by Giulio Cesare Secco d’Aragona to Ca ‘Granda, while the three Cerine farmhouses, dating back to the end of the 15th century, are located on the remains of an ancient Roman road, at the time known as “Street of the merchants”. The curious Fosson Morto is instead a moat dug near Morimondo to protect Milan from the Barbarossa raids, unlike the nearby Rabica canal created by Cistercian monks to irrigate the countryside. Four itineraries on foot or by bicycle offered by the Oasi Ca ‘Granda for those who want to immerse themselves in nature and discover the unspoiled beauties of this rural corner of Lombardy. Along the way there are 13 farmhouses where you can shop and, in some cases, as in the case of the Caremma, Lasso, Selva and Orsine farms, stop and eat. Finally, in the locality of Gerre, in Castiglione d’Adda, there is an Environmental Station of the White Storks, which is carrying out an important project for the reintegration into nature of this majestic bird that was in danger of disappearing from the Po Valley.