Photographer's Note

Park Authority: Provincia di Milano - Parco Agricolo Sud Milano
Headquarters: Via Vivaio, 1 - 20121 Milano MI
Area: 46.300 ha or 463.000.000 of square meters
Altimetry: h min 135 m above sea level - h max 155 m above sea level
Established in: 1990

Parco agricolo Sud Milano forms a half-circle around Milan. It borders with Parco del Ticino in the west and Parco dell'Adda in the east. The Park aims at safeguarding agricultural activities, cultivated fields, and woodlands, protecting natural places, enhancing the historical and architectural heritage, recovering the environment and landscape in degraded areas, inform and lead visitors to a respectful use of the environmental resources. The Park is characterized by its thick agricultural network with its rich net of natural watercourses and artificial ditches, and by the rural road network. Corn fields alternate with water meadows; tree rows mark the borders of the fields and run along the watercourses. Ancient farmsteads and precious rural towns are scattered throughout the territory.

Parco Agricolo Sud Milano represents the recognition of the important role that has been acquired by agriculture in Milan, a role that it is still playing, even if in different ways. Visiting this Park is like entering a great monument whose creators, beside nature, are dozens of generations of farmers, the monks of the abbeys, and the lords of castles and palaces, buildings which can be still admired today in all the Park Municipalities.
Irrigation ditches, canals, navigli, mills, country roads and tree rows, a myriad of springs, big farmsteads: works set in the territory extending from Valle del Ticino to Valle dell'Adda, chiselled by wise men in two millennia. The countryside of Milan has always supplied the town markets and today, in a deeply changed agricultural economy, continues to offer its services: you can enjoy its rural landscape, perfumes and tastes coming from the past, a green embrace around a metropolis suffocated by smog.
Parco Agricolo Sud has been established thanks to an important movement of associations and groups of volunteers - which today are still united under Associazione Parco Sud - but also thanks to intellectuals, administrators and, with a growing consent, over 1,400 cropping farms working in it. Despite the several difficult moments characterizing its brief history, the Park remains the essential instrument to limit the advance of concrete and to enhance a great landscape and cultural heritage which has been wrongly neglected in the past.

Green belts exist in many European towns: Paris, London, Randstad-Holland, Frankfurt, Milan are surrounded by protected areas.
However, these areas are characterized by different features: the green belt around Milan is characterized by a larger extension of agricultural areas rather than woodlands.
In the beginning, a thick forest mainly consisting of oak woods mixed with Pedunculate Oaks, Hornbeams, Lime trees, Elms, Ash trees, Field Maples, and Wild Cherries covered the area; afterwards, it was replaced by the current rural uniformity of the landscape.
The naturalistic features of the Park are not the main features of the territory, but the process of conservation and renaturalization of the most precious places represents a good starting point to reconquer a natural area next to the town.

The history of the "fat" (meaning "fertile" in rural slang) agricultural plain in the south of Milan is intertwined with the slow, systemic, and constant process of adaptation carried out by man to satisfy his own needs. Rich in water and very flat, the plain in the south of Milan had an almost certain fate: becoming large cultivated fields crossed by drain ditches, canals, and agricultural machines.

In the Park, the wildlife is present above all in the areas of greater naturalistic value (woodlands, wetland, etc.), as well as in the cultivated areas, even if less. Among the animals living in the Park there are dormice, badgers, beech martens, foxes, wild rabbits, weasels, hares, and many others. Several birds live in the countryside: the Grey Heron, the Woodpecker, the Little Egret, the Cuckoo, the Great Tit, the Reed Bunting, and many others.

The woodlands of Parco agricolo sud Milano cover smaller areas than the existing cultivated fields. However, there are areas rich in vegetation along the banks of the rivers, canals, and watercourses, where the animals find shelter. The vegetation is dominated by autochthonous essences like White and Black Poplars, Willows, Elms, Hornbeams, some Mulberrytrees witnessing the ancient rural economy and growing together with Common Oaks and Field Maples. There are also several bushes of Hawthorn, Bloodtwig dogwood, Blackthorn, and many others.

The richness in water is the most significant environmental resource of the area. There are historical rivers and watercourses (Vettabia, Ticinello, Addetta, Muzza), navigli Grande and Pavese, several springs which create ecosystems of particular value.
The natural environment is characterized by the presence of woodlands (Cusago, Riazzolo, Corbetta, Carengione, and the woodlands along the rivers and surrounding the springs) and by protected areas like nature reserves (Fontanile Nuovo di Bareggio and Sorgenti della Muzzetta di Rodano e Settala), parks (dell'Addetta, dell'Idroscalo, di Trenno, di Trenzanesio), and nature sanctuaries (Lacchiarella).
The large rural land favors the conservation of soil free from buildings, essential to maintain the ecological balance of the metropolitan area. In order to carry out the agricultural activity, men have also built interesting structures in the Park territory. Among the others, the abbeys, witnessing the reclamation activity carried out by the monastic orders of Chiaravalle (Cistercian), Mirasole and Viboldone (Humiliati).
Of great value the Visconti Castles of Binasco, Cusago, and Melegnano, as well as the castles of Cassino Scanasio (14th century), Locate and Peschiera (15th century), Buccinasco and Macconago (16th century), Rocca Brivio (17th century).
Among the farmsteads, there are the fortified rural complexes of Carpiano, Fagnano, Gudo Visconti, Tolcinasco, Settala, Coazzano and the rural nuclei of Cascina, Resenterio, Selvanesco, Conigo, Cassinetta, Bagnolo, Sarmazzano. Moreover, there are the ancient farmsteads with mills like C.na Bazzanella, C.na Vione, C.na di Gudo Gambaredo, the ancient rural structures with towered portals like in Dresano, Locate, Zivido, farmsteads presenting evident structures recalling their monastic origin like in Colturano, Gaggiano-Vigano, Mediglia, Tribiano, interesting examples of 19th century farmsteads in neo-Gothic style in Cisliano, Rozzano, and Zibido. Finally, we should mention the country villas of Bareggino, Corbetta, Gaggiano, Trenzanesio, Vittuone.
Several the architectural elements which, even if not precious, represent interesting evidences of rural archaeology and popular culture, which should be maintained and enhanced as historical evidences of the past production system.


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Additional Photos by Paolo Motta (Paolo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3739 W: 144 N: 8840] (41258)
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