The river Lambro Valley

Parco regionale della Valle del Lambro

The valley of the River Lambro stretches north of Monza, draining the first foothills of the Alps. There are small towns and villages to be found along the river terraces, together with verdant areas occupied by the many villas of the aristocracy set in extensive grounds. The latter bear witness to the fact that the region’s beautiful landscape and pleasant climate have long been appreciated. Centuries ago, the valley floor already hosted activities that exploited the power of the Lambro’s waters to drive their machinery. The Lambro has also long been a victim of a lack of environmental awareness, with negative consequences for its flora and the river fauna. Projects designed to reclaim the river have involved significant work along its course, including, the total reconstruction of parts of the riverbed as long ago as the late-1980s. The reclamation work has not yet been completed and will continue for some time. In recent years, however, these efforts have started to be amply repaid, with the reappearance of some types of fish, the completion of the water purification system and, in particular, the institution on 16th September 1983 by the Lombardy regional authorities of the ‘Parco regionale della Valle del Lambro’ (Lambro Valley Park).

The park covers about 80 square kilometres (30 square miles) and touches 35 local authorities. To the north, it reaches Lakes Pusiano and Alsèrio, and to the south by the Park of Monza. The valley has, over the centuries, seen the birth of a range of industrial activities, which began with the use of simple hydraulic power (mills, presses) and then used the same power to generate electrical energy able to move the complex machinery of the textile trade. Inside the Park, there are the nature reserves of Lakes Pusiano and Alsèrio, marshy woodland, the ‘Grotta di Realdino’ (Realdino’s cave) at Agliate and an erratic rock, the ‘Sasso di Guidino’. The nature here is of real public value and park activities focus on the preservation and reclamation of the environment.

For walkers

There is a fine riverside walk from Canònica to Albiate, following the course of the Lambro upstream. The walk takes about an hour: although it is not signposted, the walk is not difficult since it follows the banks of the river itself. The walk starts from the bridge at Canonica – which can be reached from Macherio railway station on the Monza-Molteno-Oggiono line – and follows the left bank of the river. The vegetation is typical of river habitats, with clearings in which can be seen old mills and other buildings whose activities depended on the power of water to drive their machinery. These include the Molino Bassi mill and the former Galeazzo Viganò factory, which opened in 1880. The walk ends at Ponte Albiate, where walkers can get back on the train at the nearby station.

The olg railway line along the Lambro river

During the 1960s, the historic Monza-Molteno-Lecco line that runs along the Lambro repeatedly ran the risk of abandonment: 30 kilometres (nearly 19 miles) of track, stations and rolling stock into which the Italian state railways felt it was no longer worth investing. Today, however, after nearly 100 years of existence, the line is experiencing a revival. Since the year 2000, the ‘Treno dei Tre Parchi’ (Train of the Three Parks), has been running again. Inaugurated in 1911, the line had, for decades, connected central Brianza to Monza and Milan with diesel trains that eventually became obsolete. At weekends during the summer, trains leave Milan’s Porta Garibaldi station for the parks of Monza, Valle del Lambro and Monte Barro (near Lecco); after getting off the train, trippers can continue their environmentally-friendly outing on foot or by bicycle to discover areas of great beauty.

For drivers

Anyone visiting the Valley of the Lambro by car can take a round trip which, starting from Monza, takes in:

Biassono (2.5 km), Machèrio (1 km), Sovico (1.2 km), Albiate (1 km), Carate Brianza (1.8 km), Veduggio con Colzano (11 km), then passing through Giussano and Briosco, Besana in Brianza (4.2 km), Montesiro, Tregàsio and Triùggio (5.6 km), reaching Canònica (1.6 km), Gerno (1.2 km) and then Correzzana and Camparada, driving past the Park of Monza to Villasanta (2.4 km) and returning to Monza (5 km).