Exploring the Valley of the Monks

The Monks’ Trail

  • Persorso pedonale o ciclabile

The Vettabbia is a drainage channel that runs underground from the Basilica of San Lorenzo alle Colonne in the heart of Milan to the southern suburbs of the city until it merges with the River Lambro. Its course forms the Vettabia Valley, also known as the Valley of the Monks. Cistercian monks settled there in Mediaeval times and reclaimed these lands until then considered insalubrious to make them productive. Small but lively settlements sprung up and thrived thanks to the presence of the Abbeys of Chiaravalle, Viboldone and, a mere stone’s throw away, Mirasole.

The present-day Valley of the Monks has become an integrated landscape to explore, where town and country mingle. Mediaeval frescoes and contemporary art installations, examples of monastic and peasant architecture, archaeological artefacts, and sustainable technology can all be found on the outskirts of the big city.  Some farmhouses (called cascine) provide stopovers to buy locally grown agricultural products while others have been converted into community centres.

The entire trail, which can be hiked or cycled will be accessible to you from the columns of San Lorenzo as far as Melegnano. You could have a stroll in the recently enlarged Vettabia Park  and look into the impressive South Milan Agricultural Park. Enjoy your visit!