The Manzonian places of the Promessi Sposi

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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The great writers are those capable of merging the reality of the environments that surround them with their imagination, of give life to characters so real that with a little imagination we can see them walking alongside us in those places where the poet has decided to make them live.

Our peninsula is dotted with large cities, villages and lakes which, in addition to telling Italian history, are home to tales and love stories that you can relive by visiting these places. So let's go to Lombardy, to retrace the most famous italian love story: I Promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni.
The novel tells of Renzo and Lucia, two lovers whose dream of love is broken by Don Rodrigo, a gentleman of the country who bets with his cousin Attilio to be able to exercise the ius primae noctis, that is, the right to spend the first wedding night with his bride, Lucia. From here the adventures of the two boyfriends begin ...


  1. Pescarenico, the town of Renzo and Lucia, and the "Addio ai Monti"
  2. Olate: the chapel of Don Abbondio and the house of Don Rodrigo
  3. Valle di Somasca: the Fortress of the Unnamed and the House of the Tailor
  4. The Monza of the Nun
  5. User questions and comments

Pescarenico, the town of Renzo and Lucia, and the "Addio ai Monti"

Goodbye, mountains rising from the water and elevated to the sky The journey begins in Pescarenico, a district of Lecco where Renzo, Lucia and Agnese, his mother, meet Fra 'Cristoforo to plan the escape. The village is located on the left bank of the Adda river, which has always been inhabited by fishermen whose life took place between fishing and the sale of fish at the market. Today it is a very typical neighborhood, which still preserves the small alleys and the old houses leaning against each other interspersed with ancient rustic courtyards.
In piazza Padre Cristoforo there is the church of SS. Lucia and Materno and the remains of some cells and the courtyard of the ancient convent which, according to the novel, housed the three fugitives.
From this small neighborhood, one would see that landscape that inspired the famous "Farewell to the Mountains", an intimate thought of Lucia, saddened by the fear of not being able to see those places again, a memory of her childhood. Today that romantic view, modified by buildings and condominiums built in modern times, has not completely lost its charm.

Olate: the chapel of Don Abbondio and the house of Don Rodrigo

In Olate, another district of Lecco, stands the church of Saints Vitale and Valeria; tradition has it that this is there chapel of Don Abbondio, in which the marriage between Renzo and Lucia was to be celebrated. The church dates back to the fifteenth century, but of this first construction only the bell tower remains; the nave was remodeled in 1765 and lengthened in 1934, the year in which the "baroque" style facade was restored.
No more than 50 meters from the square in front of the church there is a group of houses among which the alleged one would be found abode of the betrothed. Still in the streets of this district there is a building that inspired Manzoni to create the "antagonist" character of the story: Don Rodrigo.

The alleged Don Rodrigo's house it rises on the "sugar" of Olate, that is on the top of a relief; the palace was built in 1570 by the powerful Arrigoni family, even if there is no proven documentation, and it would have been designed by a famous architect, Pellegrino Tibaldi. It was owned by several noble families, until in 1937 it was bought by Ulisse Guzzi, son of the founder of the homonymous motorcycle factory, who despite the discontent of the people of the town, decided to demolish it and rebuild it, keeping only vaguely the original forms.
Since the s the building has been owned by the municipality of Lecco.

Valle di Somasca: the Fortress of the Unnamed and the House of the Tailor

Let's move to the province now, in the Somasca Valley where, on a natural hill, you can admire the ruins of a fortress which according to historians inspired one of the most emblematic characters of the novel: the Unnamed, a man shaken by a profound spiritual crisis, at first an accomplice of Don Rodrigo, who, following his acquaintance with Lucia, sees in her "the sign" that leads him to conversion.
The building stands on a natural hill, the first historical records date back to the sixteenth century, a period in which the castle was owned by the Visconti, although more likely the original structure dates back to the Carolingian era. Today, by taking a walk, you can reach the hill and observe what remains of it Fortress of the Unnamed: the perimeter wall, some towers and part of the defensive bastions. The chapel, which is located where the central tower originally stood, was built in 1902 and is dedicated to San Girolamo.
Another stage in the daring story of Renzo and Lucia is the House of the Tailor which is located in the district of Chiuso, just below the Rocca dell'Innominato. The tailor and his wife hosted Lucia and her mother after the liberation by the Unnamed, their house was expressly mentioned in the first draft of the novel, the small block described still maintains its original characteristics.

The Monza of the Nun

Let's change province now and go visit the church of San Maurizio in Monza... you have already understood that we are talking about the convent of the Nun of Monza. The current building stands on the ancient monastery of Santa Margherita founded by the Umiliati in the 1881th century. Over time, the church has been renovated several times, deconsecrated and the monastery was suppressed; since it belongs to Monza Cathedral, which takes over the cult and gives it the current name of San Maurizio. In recent decades, palaces and condominiums have been built on the surfaces subject to demolition, so today the Baroque facade is "wedged" between modern structures. Inside it is possible to admire a bellows organ dating back to the th century and several frescoes from the ancient convent of Santa Margherita.

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