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In the province of Monza e Brianza, the history of Cornate d'Adda goes back a long way and starts with water.
The name Cornate d'Adda, the main town in the Monza stretch of the Adda River, appeared for the first time in the Lombard era, mentioned in the Historia Langobardorum by the historian Paolo Diacono.
Archaeological excavations in the Villa Paradiso district, along the local access road called Costiera D'Adda brought to light an ancient Roman settlement with a Villa Rustica (countryside villa), a cistern, a necropolis, a waste pit and seventeen Lombard tombs. Other “surprises” emerged along the Adda River, above the rocky spur of the Rocchetta: a 14th century well, other Lombard tombs, a cistern, an oven and the rocky foundations of community residences from the late Roman period.
Cornate d’Adda was given a new lease on life in the early 1900s, when the Bertini Hydroelectric Plant was constructed on the river, in Porto d’Adda. Built in 1898 to electrify the tramways in Milan, it was once Europe’s largest and most powerful plant, and second in the world only to the hydroelectric plant of Niagara Falls in the United States.
Despite the amount of energy produced, the Bertini plant wasn’t enough to meet demand. So, in 1914, the elegant neo-Renaissance style Esterle Hydroelectric Plant was built 500 metres downstream. Both these plants are still operational. The Bertini Plant has a museum that is open to visitors, who can also book a guided tour of the plant (info).
If you are fond of art and history, we strongly recommend visiting the Church of S. Giuseppe, in piazza Don Giulio Ambrosiani 3. The frescoes are by Bergamo artist Vanni Rossi, who painted the interiors of the Church during the Second World War, portraying the residents of the town with whom he shared those dramatic years. The most significant work is the Last Judgement, on the wall opposite the altar, where, amongst the damned, Dante-inspired figures such as Count Ugolino, he also depicted his contemporaries, Mussolini and Hitler.
Lastly, a tip for a day in the green outdoors: the event in Spring called FiorirAnno, a festival of flowers stemming from the desire to bring everyone closer to the practice of you-pick, an opportunity for families, groups of friends and nature lovers to spend time outdoors, picking their favourite flowers! Keep up with the latest news and events here.