One of the routes, consisting almost entirely of paved cycle paths and a restricted-access track amongst the greenery, connects the central location of Porta Romana with the outlying Abbey of Chiaravalle.
Just over five kilometers of paths link the historic centre with one of Italy’s most important monastic complexes, starting off from the city streets to pedal out to open countryside paths.
From Porta Romana to Nocetum
The cycle route starts from the Porta Romana metro stop (MM3) and runs directly along Corso Lodi up to Piazzale Corvetto. It then continues out of the city, bearing to the right.
After passing Piazzale Gabrio Rosa - with the church of San Michele Arcangelo and Santa Rita on our right - we continue along the pleasant paved and tree-lined Viale Omero. At the far end of the avenue, we reach the Nocetum Social Cooperative in Via San Dionigi (on the left), whose name is attributed to the presence of an ancient walnut forest. It is a spiritual setting that opens its arms to community and education. The renovated farmhouse was once an ancient grangia, a farm linked to the nearby Abbey of Chiaravalle which, alongside integration and social cohesion, also offers a catering service using ecologically-sourced authentic produce.
From Parco della Vettabbia to the Abbey of Chiaravalle
Keeping to the right we cycle straight into the bucolic Parco della Vettabbia which was named after the canal that originally crisscrossed it, the previously navigable Naviglio Vettabbia.
Historically, the grassland area was reclaimed and cultivated by the monks of the Abbey of Clairvaux, founded by S. Bernard of Clairvaux in 1135. Hence, the entrance part of park area is called the Valle dei Monaci (Valley of the Monks). For centuries, the nutrient-rich waters of the Vettabbia river were used for irrigation and, more specifically, for the controlled flooding of water-meadows which, in addition to guaranteeing increased agricultural productivity, constituted an efficient natural filtration system, maintaining the balance in the urban and agricultural systems.
We pedal along a tree-lined avenue in the middle of the verdant park until we reach Cascina San Bernardo, a training farmstead that aims to educate children and young people on the principles of agricultural life through the creation of a lovely ‘garden of ancient fruits’ with over 300 trees of varieties that are no longer used in current agricultural production. To book a visit to the Parco della Vettabbia please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaving the park behind us, we continue for a few metres of non-cyclable road to reach the Abbey of Chiaravalle and the adjacent village of Chiaravalle. If you wish to book a guided tour please go to the monastery website.
The ‘Bottega dei Monaci’, monastery store, open from Tuesday to Sunday, sells products from the Abbey of Chiaravalle and other Cistercian abbeys: wines and beers, fresh eggs, chickens, flavoursome rabbits, Grana Padano and local salami along with seasonal fruits and vegetables from the abbey kitchen garden, plus, natural perfumes, soaps and cosmetics with gift boxes on request. Numerous books, CDs and religious artefacts for all ages are also on sale.
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FROM THE FONDAZIONE PRADA TO CHIARAVALLE
By bike or by bus, a trip back in time and a return to the future