The name Pieve indicates a district administrated in the Early Middle Ages by a main church possessing a baptistery, which other minor churches and chaplaincies depended on. The base of the primitive christian basilica were uncovered in very recent times. The baptistery was probably square-shaped, contrary to the circular shape of Velezzo and the octagonal shape of Lomello. Cairo, now a hamlet of Pieve, takes its name from the latin quadrum, “panel” and it was the first to be inhabited, as testified by numerous findings in gallo-roman tombs.
Pieve was built in the christian era on the outskirts of the first gallo-roman town. The property of the counts of Lomello, one of the many in Lomellina, was severely damaged by the passage of Barbarossa in the XII century. We can find mentions of the destruction of the first fortress of Cairo in the cronicles describing the terrible passage of the Emperor.
The Beccaria were landowners from Pieve starting from the XIII century, a time when Old Cairo and New Cairo were still separated. The Beccaria were succeeded by the Isimbardi who kept the property until the end of the XVIII century. The imposing castle built in the XII century by the Beccaria became a noble dwelling in the following centuries. Situated very close to the Po river, it became a very important line of defense of the Duchy of Milan, as demonstrated by the still visible towers, but also a fundamental commercial port.
Pieve del Cairo is nowadays known for its perpetual Jubilee, a privilege bestowed upon the parish due to an extraordinary fact that happened in 1512. The Cardinal Giovanni de’Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, captured by the French during the battle of Ravenna against the Pope’s troupes, was freed by the citizens of Pieve del Cairo after the battle of Cambiò between Pieve and the French. The Cardinal de’Medici was elected Pope the following year as Leone X. The new pope remembered the brave action of the people from Pieve. He awarded Pieve del Cairo through the papal edict of 1516 with two annual and perpetual Jubilees, the first one on the first Sunday on June (day of his liberation) and the second one on the solemnity of patron’s day dedicated to the Nativity of Mary on the September 8.
At the entrance of Pieve del Cairo there is an imposing triumph arch built in 1599 to celebrate properly the passage of princess Margaret of Austria, on her way to Spain where she would go on to marry king Philip III.
Churches and noble residences of Pieve and its hamlets, among which the XVII century Isimbardi palace, are proof of the territory’s extraordinary history which is still very much alive in its citizen’s hearts.
The association Vigevano Promotions organizes half-day or full day customized itineraries to guide the groups of visitors in the discovery of the stories and legends inside of them.
For information about the guided tours:
tel: +39 351 8782734