Keep Calm, You’re in Saronno

Saronno is a little town in the province of Varese. It received the honorary title of city with a presidential decree in 1960. It is 20 minutes by frequent trains from the center of Milan, and is surrounded by motorways that lead to Milan, Varese and Switzerland.
If i remember it right, my mom’s first job in Italy was here in Saronno. One lazy Sunday, i told my husband, “we can go somewhere, a place not distant from Milan that we haven’t visited yet.” He suggested Saronno. Anyway, the train station from our home is just a walking distance. So we prepared quickly, with only iPad, Nikon and video camera in our bags.
Downtown of Saronno

The town is actually small. Heading towards the center from the train station, i felt a quieter and calmer life than it is in Milan.  The Saronnesi are friendly people. Since there are few people roaming around, and only the four of us were “strangers” that day, they manage to show a welcoming smile.
The name “Saronno” has its long history. The first historical signs with regard to the existence of the city go back to 796, with the vicus that it called “Solomnum”, replaced in the course of the years by “Solonnum” (until 1189), then “Solognum” and “Sorognum” that has then become “Seronium” and therefore “Seronum” and “Serono”.
Only after the 17th century its denomination began to approach the present day one, transforming itself in “Sarono” and, in the successive century, “Saronno”.

Saronno is well known for its almond kernel biscuits (amaretti) and is also a manufacturing town.The name amaretti comes from the word amaro = bitter, hence: ‘little bitters’.Legends come in very handy, of course, when the true origins of a something are obscure. It’s very likely in fact that amaretti originally came from the Arabic countries, being introduced into Italy via Sicily, and eventually becoming diffused throughout the peninsula. What we do know is that the Lazzaroni family moved from Teglio to Saronno at the beginning of the 1800’s, where they set up a workshop to produce their now famous biscuits under the company name D. Lazzaroni & C. which they founded in 1888. Lazzaroni were soon exporting their pastries all over the world, hence the depiction of a steamboat which you can see incorporated in their distinctive logo.

Chiesa di Santi Pietro e Paolo

There are three main churches in Saronno, which we’ve visited. The Church of Saint Peter and Paul (pix above) which is located near downtown. There’s that big square in front of the church, enough space for the people to just sit back, relax on the bench, eat gelato and enjoy the nice weather. There are business establishments sorrounding the square. I shopped some clothes at the OVS store when we were there. They’re on sale!

Chiesa di San Franscesco D’Assisi

Another church that can be found while walking downtown is the church of Saint Francis D’ Assisi. This is the oldest church in Saronno, with medieval origins. In 1154 it was taken over by the friars of the Franciscan order, and in 1297 the Archbishop of Milan, Francesco Fontana da Siena, invited the parishioners to contribute to the building of a bigger church as the existing one was not sufficient for the needs of the friars. There are no traces of this church today because in the 15th century radical changes and restoration were carried out.

It was during these changes that the lavish decorations that we see today were added. The church has a central nave with side aisles. The chancel and high altar is at one end of the nave, facing the main doors that are at the other end. There are two niches on the facade containing statues, one of St. Anthony and the other of St. Francis. These statues are copies but the originals can be seen in one of the chapels inside the church.

Sanctuario della Beata Vergine dei Miracoli

This is the biggest church in Saronno. The pilgrimage church of the Madonna dei Miracoli, begun in 1498 by Vincenzo Dell’Orto, has a dome with very fine architecture on the outside. The bell tower dates from 1516, the rest of the church is of a later date. Internally it is decorated with fine frescoes by Gaudenzio Ferrari, representing The Concert of Angels, while those in the choir are by Bernardino Luini and are among his finest works. These include the Adoration of the Magi, The Presentation, The Marriage of the Virgin and Jesus Discussing with the Doctors in the Temple. Most likely Luini started these frescoes in the spring of 1524.

Fabulous ceiling inside the church
The main entrance to the church. They only use this one for special occasions
That’s it. We just conquered another new town. One thing i love about this adventure, there are no tourists around on that very day. It’s a stress-free and cheap trip! Better than just lazying at home.
Watch our travel video:
– – – Until our next adventure – – – >

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