The Naviglio di Paderno is an artificial canal that runs parallel to the River Adda, in the municipality of Paderno d’Adda, north-east of Milan. It is the shortest of the Navigli canals but also the most complex: it took Leonardo's genius to design the construction of the six locks in order to overcome the steep 27.5 m change in level. The Paderno Naviglio was originally intended to enable navigation between Milan and Lake Como, which would then have been perfectly linked to the inner canal ring via the Martesana canal. The work was started by the French King Francis I in 1516 but was not completed until almost three centuries later, under Marie Therese of Austria, and was inaugurated in 1777. Aside from the final destination the route is interesting from different three perspectives: for the splendid landscape of the rapids of the Adda, for the presence of the historical hydraulic structures designed by Leonardo da Vinci and for the hydroelectric power plants of architectural interest set out along the route. The cycle path begins on the northern outskirts of the town of Trezzo. Turn left in via Risorgimento, before the Trezzo sull'Adda bridge, and follow the signs for the river, for the Castello Visconteo or for the Taccani Hydroelectrical Power Station. As you cycle alongside the river you’ll come across the old power plants that first brought electricity to Milan (Centrale Edison Esterle - a beautiful edifice with geometric and floral motifs, interspersed with Gothic style windows and wrought iron eaves - and the impressive Edison Bertini plant).You’ll then arrive near the torrents of the Adda and the rocks known as the “tre corni della Vergine” (three horns of the Virgin) that emerge from the rapids. The final destination is the small Madonna della Rocchetta Sanctuary located on the top of a rocky peak that divides the River Adda from the Paderno Naviglio where you can admire a truly suggestive panorama.
It is said that "three horns of the Virgin" of the Adda inspired Leonardo da Vinci for the natural rocky landscape of his famous ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ composition.
NOT TO BE MISSED
The Sanctuary is part of the Way of St. Augustine. The church and the rooms beneath it, once the home to the Augustine friars, can be visited upon request. It was built in 1386, the same year in which work began on the Duomo of Milan, upon the initiative of the wealthy Milanese doctor Bertrando da Cornate (who also made a generous donation to the Fabbrica del Duomo). Just three years later, the Sanctuary and the surrounding land were bequeathed by its owner to the Hermits of Saint Augustine of the convent of San Marco in Milan.