Stage 4 – From Upper Erba to Villa Ceriani
Past the palace once owned by the Counts Archinto, nowadays turned into the “Christ the King” House, run by the Sisters of Charity, turn left into Via Cavour, where you will see in front of you an ancient fresco of the Madonna above a stone portal. After walking slightly downhill for about 100 metres while bordering a retaining wall on your right, keep to the right and climb the stairs of Via Chiesa Molinari, consisting of a cobbled step with stone rise, followed by a concrete landing, another 13 cobbled steps, a second cobbled landing, and a further set of 13 steps. At the top of the stairs you will find a small cobbled clearing to your left (please note: it’s a private property!) facing a large wrought iron gate at number 18. It is the entrance of the villa formerly called Valaperta-Giussani, nowadays the Villa “Le Due Torrette”, a Bed and Breakfast and event venue, and is preceded by two small stone pillars, approx. 50 cm high. Surrounded by a large park, the mansion was commissioned by the Marquis Bernardo Colombo, feudal lord of Segrate, who used it as his country residence; it was later purchased by the Valapertas, a Milanese family of silk merchants and patriots, who, during the Risorgimento, hosted the writer Camillo Boito and Baron Bettino Ricasoli. At the beginning of the 20th century the property was transferred to the Crespi family and, subsequently, to the Giussanis, important Milanese managers. In the 70s of the last century it was purchased by the current owners. In the section of the park that overlooks the valley called “Pravalle” stand the two circular towers commissioned by the Valapertas in the 19th century, as a way to remember the ancient castle of Erba, of which no trace has remained.
By turning right and walking for about thirty metres along Via Chiesa Molinari, which is cobbled in this section, you may see to your right the majestic portal of the villa at number 13, which was the country residence of the great artist Francesco Hayez (1791-1882), arguably one of the major exponents of Italian romantic painting.
Almost opposite the portal of Villa Hayez take the short asphalted alley on your left which leads to the paved Piazza Castello; please mind a series of small iron posts – approx. 1 metre high – which hold a chain that limits an approx. 1 metre wide strip of private property on the right side of the road. The square has been named castello (the Italian term for castle) to remember the area where, before the year 1500, the castle of Erba once stood, in a position which dominated Upper Brianza. Enter the square from the opening between the first set of posts with chain which is parallel to the street and the second which delimits the square. At the bottom of the square, in front of this access, there is an old stone wash-house with two basins (which can be accessed by descending two steps).
Border the building known as “Condominio (Condominium)” for about ten metres, then take the short alley on the right (please mind the two 1 m high posts with chain that are located right in the middle of the entrance of the road), which after about fifteen metres takes you back to Via Chiesa Molinari, just opposite the portal of the house at number 11, the former Chiesa Molinari palace. This mansion was commissioned by the noble Chiesa family, later Chiesa Molinari, whose last descendent, Antonio, was a great patron of the arts, and hosted artists and writers who were active in Milan during the first half of the 19th century. The front of the building facing the road has an austere appearance, while the interior is embellished with frescoes and Romanesque style decorations. The villa has a nice porch with a double row of columns that connects the small court of honour with another minor courtyard, where you can spot, albeit with some difficulty, an apse wall of the attached oratory, designed by architect Simone Cantoni according to a circular plan. The oratory used to house the remains of Saint Verecunda Martyr – greatly worshipped by the people of Erba and invoked against drought – which are now preserved in the church of S. Maria Nascente. Turn left and continue along Via Chiesa Molinari, which is asphalted in this section; you may admire two beautiful painted sundials on the wall of the building at number 1. After about 70 metres from the Chiesa Molinari palace, enter Via Giuseppe Parini, and, after a further 40 metres, you will reach Piazza Giulio Carcano, a secluded square formerly called Piazza Fontana. On the left, at number 4, you will see the old Casa Motta, now radically altered, while on the right, slightly to the back, at number 9, the beautiful entrance of the mansion known in the past as Villa Repossi with its iron gate, and, at number 3, Villa Comolli.
Leaving the portal of Villa Comolli to your right, continue along the asphalted Via Cavour (or «Via alla Vill’Amalia (Road to Villa Amalia)», as indicated by the writing on the wall) for about 110 metres, keeping to the left. Climb on the concrete tiled sidewalk that, after another 10 metres, leads to the crossroads with Via Angelo Bassi. A couple of metres after turning the corner to the left, cross via Bassi at the concrete tiled pedestrian crossing, climb on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, turn right and walk for a few metres, then take the cobblestone pathway – preceded by a paved strip – leading to Piazza San Giovanni Battista De La Salle. After a few metres the pathway forks: by turning right and walking straight on for 30 metres, you will reach the main entrance of the park of Villa Amalia, enclosed by a beautiful wrought iron gate, while, if you turn left, after 40 metres you will be in front of the adjoining church of S. Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels). Here stood the great Franciscan friary (of the order of the Observant friars at first, and, from 1594 onwards, of the “Riformati”), which was erected between 1480 and 1489 on land donated by Galdo and Leone Carpani.
After its suppression in 1798, it was bought by Milanese lawyer Rocco Marliani, converted into a neoclassical villa by architect Leopoldo Pollack in the years 1798-1801, and dedicated by Marliani to his wife Amalia.
The church of S. Maria degli Angeli is the only part of the friary that has remained almost intact; it is also known as the church of S. Antonio (St. Anthony), because every January 17 a great feast dedicated to the saint, protector of animals, is celebrated on its churchyard; since 1963 it has been owned by the Province of Como and is the home to the “Carlo Porta” State High School (specializing in languages and human sciences).
Next to the park gate of the villa, to the left side of the church, a sign board, part of the “The stars of Lake Como” project promoted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Province of Como, informs the reader that some scenes of the 1974 movie “Allonsanfan” by brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, and starring Marcello Mastroianni and Lea Massari, were shot at Villa Amalia.
Walk back to Via Bassi (opposite there is a “ASF C99 Erba Circular Route” bus stop); turn left, continue on the concrete tiled sidewalk for about 10 metres, then cross via Balbor at the pedestrian crossing, and continue on the sidewalk along Via Angelo Bassi (which merges into Via Ugo Foscolo, the poet who repeatedly stayed at Villa Amalia). The sidewalk becomes paved after approx. ten metres, as it heads towards the hamlet of Crevenna. From this section of the road, looking ahead of you, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the mountains of Lake Como. From right to left: the Cornizzolo, the Horns of Canzo, the Grigna mountain range in the background, and Mount Barzaghino. After a further 270 metres, before reaching a small car park on the roadside, you will find a “ASF C99 Erba Circular Route” bus stop. After another 30 metres, at the other end of the car park, we advise you to be very careful, as you’ll have to walk a forty metre section along the edge of the road with no sidewalk, with a wall and a ten cm deep ditch to your left.
Border the buildings at number 17-19, i.e. the house with a characteristic classical style façade owned from 1450 to 1861 by the De Fontana family, and later by the Genolinis, where guest Milanese poet Giulio Carcano composed many of his poems and novels set in Brianza. Climb back on the sidewalk which connects to the cobbled strip leading, after another twenty metres or so, to the entrance of Villa Ceriani, also known as Villa San Giuseppe, Villa Comunale di Crevenna, Villa Ceriani Bressi. At the height of the portal which gives access to the villa, the ground is paved with cobbles and two lines of stone slabs. The two-storey building was designed by the architect Gianluca Gavazzi of Somaglia at the end of the 18th century for the Ceriani family on the area where the old mansion of the noble Galimberti family once stood. The villa has a classic “U-shaped pan”; the façade overlooks Via Foscolo, which separates it from a projecting part in classical style that had the function of elegantly camouflaging the adjoining farmhouses and create a perspective view on the fields below. The imposing portal, emphasized by ashlar blocks, opens into the main body of the façade, surmounted by a gable roof; one central and two angular balconies add a gentle touch to the building. A panoramic “turret” was added at a later stage, raising the right wing of the villa. The interior features a large entrance staircase, decorated rooms with coffered ceilings, and a beautiful typically romantic English landscape park. Nowadays the villa is owned by the Municipality and hosts exhibitions, concerts, conferences and cultural events; since 1977 it has been hosting the Erba Civic Museum. In front of it there is a ASF C99 (Erba Circular Route) bus stop.
Point of departure Erba, Via Crotto Rosa
Point of arrival Erba, Villa Ceriani
Path type urban route
Environment urban area
Total length approx. 1150 m
Travel time on foot 35 min
Rise approx. 15 m
Maximum height 340 m
Paving: asphalt, cobbles, concrete, concrete tiles, stone slabs
Public transport to the point of departure –
Public transport from the point of arrival ASF bus service (see bus company website)
Parking at the point of departure yes
See the Gallery of this stage:
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