Stage 1 – From the church of S. Eufemia to the Quarter of Villincino
The route starts from the small and secluded Piazza Sant’Eufemia in Erba, a square – mostly paved with stone slabs – overlooked by the church of the same name (church of S. Eufemia). It is one of the oldest parish churches of the entire diocese of Milan, and it is thought to have been founded as far back as the 5th century. The square is dominated by its imposing Romanesque bell tower: built in the 11th century, probably in order to act, too, as a watchtower to help defend the entire Parish, it has now become the symbol of the city. In the portion of the square in front of the church, a variation of the paving (stone cubes surrounded by a cobbled strip) highlights the area once occupied by the Early Medieval Baptistery dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
By taking a small deviation, border the right side of the church, and, having left the robust buttress behind you, cross an iron gate to enter the area behind the sacred building (please pay attention, because in the space of a few dozen metres the paving changes from the stone slabs of the square to cobbles, then to gravel, and once again to a stone slab strip). Turn left, and, by following the cobbled pathway, you will be able to reach and admire the beautiful semicircular stone apse, enlivened by brick inserts that emphasize an infilled single-lancet window and an oculus, in addition to outlining a herringbone ornamental motif at the base of the construction. In front of the apse of the church stands a building which at present appears to be of no artistic interest, the internal façade of which, however, is embellished by three beautiful 14th century mullioned windows, similar to those of the Tower of Villincino. This building was once part of the old Rectory of S. Eufemia, which is thought to have consisted of a ring-like structure around the church, clearly devised to enable protection and defence.
Walk back to Piazza S. Eufemia and cross the square. By keeping to the centre you will be able to leave the square from the side opposite to the church (through the openings between the chains supported by pillars which enclose it), and reach the concrete tiled sidewalk. Turn right, continue for a few metres, and then cross Via Licinio on the pedestrian crossing. Climb on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street and turn right, leaving the phone booth to your right. Cross the zebra crossing and join the concrete tiled sidewalk which borders Piazza Vittorio Veneto, which is therefore in a slightly raised position with respect to the adjacent streets. The square is more commonly known by its old name of Incino “Market Square”, as it is here that the market was held since at least the 15th century. A large nine-arch porticoed building constructed in 1827-28 according to a plan by engineer Piero Corti of Pomerio – which resumed the design of the typical old porticoes of the Brianza area under which sellers could exhibit their goods out of the rain and tether animals to the rings which are still visible on the columns – still testifies this use of the square.
Continue straight across the square, which is paved with porphyry slabs and stone paved strips, bordering the longer side of the porticoed building of the market. Once you have reached the corner of the building, turn left, and continue parallel to the limit of the square for about thirty metres, then take Via Diaz (please mind the stone post protruding from the edge of the house on the corner) and join the asphalted sidewalk. Continue on the sidewalk along Via Diaz: from here, when looking north, towards the mountains, you will enjoy a fine view of the valley rift known as the Bova Valley – at the embouchure of which lies the city of Erba -, which in 2007 the Lombardy Region declared a “Partial Nature Reserve of Geological, Hydro-geological and Landscape Interest”, entrusting its management to the Municipality of Erba. This valley is famous for the Buco del Piombo, one of the best-known caves in the whole of Lombardy, and a true outdoor natural museum, of great speleological, palaeontological, and archaeological interest.
Continue along the sidewalk which runs on the left side of Via Diaz. About halfway down the street, on the opposite side, in front of the “Giovanni and Maria Tagliabue” State Nursery School, there is a “ASF C99 Erba Circular Route” bus stop. After about 200 metres, at number 4, there is a big three-storey pink plastered building, with the inscription «1909 Società anonima cooperativa edilizia del Piano d’Erba (1909 Cooperative Building Company of the Erba Plain» written in very large letters, well visible from a distance, which brings us back to the years of the booming of cooperative building. After another 40 metres please mind the signage post placed right in the middle of the sidewalk; a further 10 metres along the way there is another one in the same position. After about 4 metres from the last post, leave the sidewalk, turn right, cross Via Diaz at the pedestrian crossing and climb onto the sidewalk on the opposite side, just beyond the entrance of the Excelsior Cinema, bordering the modern building of the “Casa della Gioventù Don Aldo Pozzi”, i.e. the House of Youth dedicated to Fr. Aldo Pozzi.
After approx. 30 metres from where you crossed the street, turn right, continue for about ten metres and cross Via Cesare Battisti at the pedestrian crossing, leaving Piazza San Giovanni Bosco – which took its name in memory of a visit that the Saint paid to Villincino, as a guest of the Guenzati-Rivolta house – to your left. Once on the opposite side of the street, turn slightly to the left, taking the other section of Via Diaz. It is advisable not to climb onto the sidewalk on the right side of the street, because it ends after a few metres: one should rather keep to the left of the road, which narrows gradually (after about thirty metres please mind the approx. 1m high metal post standing in the middle of the roadway). Immediately before the post, on the right, from behind a gate you may spot an old typical country cottage, now restored, which has kept the characteristic barrel-arch loggia.
At the bottom of Via Diaz you will reach Piazza Giuseppina Prina, dominated by the silhouette of a modern and functional building, the “Ca’ Prina”, which provides the following services: Nursing Home for the Elderly, Alzheimer Special Care Unit, Day Care Centre, Home Care, Hospice-Palliative Care. The property is managed by the Foundation named after “Giuseppina Prina”, the benefactress who in 1925, at her death, left to the town of Erba-Incino a bequest worth about three-hundred thousand Italian Lira of the time «with the binding obligation to use the entire aforementioned substance and yield for the establishment of a hospital to be named Prina Hospital… for the exclusive benefit and aid of any needy land worker living in the hamlets of the town of Incino».
Always keeping to the left, border the building at number 5 of Piazza Prina (please mind the series of posts – approx. one metre high – which mark the limits of the private property), a mansion formerly belonging to the noble family of the Carpanis, and which in the 18th century was owned by Orazio Busti Carpani. The house is now evidence of its transformation from a stately home into a “farmer’s house”, adapted to the needs of agricultural life. It has 14th century terracotta windows which open onto the street and square, and onto the courtyard, too. Inside, a number of small painted panels are wedged into the coffered ceiling of the porch facing the farmyard. The panels, which are now in a very bad condition, were used to cover the trabeation, and portray members of the Carpani family. They are attributed to a master connected to the court of Ludovico il Moro, and possibly close – judging by the style of the paintings – to the “Master of the Sforza Altarpiece” (an unknown painter who worked at the Court of Milan in the 15th century and was strongly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, who worked there in the same period). This building had a special area to accommodate horses and mules (the “stallazzo”, i.e. stabling in local dialect).
The Carpanis initially supported the Guelph family of the Torrianis, then changed sides and faithfully served the Viscontis, the Sforzas, the Spaniards, and the Austrians of Maria Theresa, and became patriots during the period known as the Risorgimento. «Having become Counts and then Marquises, the Carpanis were the feudal lords of Albese, Carella, Carpesino, Corneno, Penzano, Arcellasco, and Casletto; they enjoyed fishing rights on Lake Pusiano, owned Cypress Island and the villa of Pusiano which was later acquired by the Viceroy Eugenio Beauharnais during the Kingdom of Italy. Moreover, Leone and Galdo Carpani were the founders of the friaries of San Salvatore above Crevenna and Santa Maria degli Angeli (now Villa Amalia) in Upper Erba, which were erected thanks to their generous donations of funds and substances».
Point of departure Erba, Piazza Sant’Eufemia
Point of arrival Erba, Piazza Prina
Path type urban route
Environment urban area
Total length approx. 680 m
Travel time on foot 15 min
Maximum height 275 m
Paving stone slabs, cobbles, gravel, concrete tiles, asphalt
Public transport to the point of departure ASF bus service (see bus company website); Trenord railway station in Piazza Padania
Public transport from the point of arrival ASF bus service in the surroundings
Parking at the point of departure yes