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Historical Characters

Historical Characters - LA VESCOGNA

             

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519)

Leonardo da Vinci was asked to come to Milan by Bartolomeo Calco who, at the time, was the First Ducal Secretary at the court of Lodovico il Moro.
Between spring and summer of 1482, he arrived in Milan with aim of coming up with projects in engineering, plumbing systems, deployments of troops and architecture but also in paintings and sculptures and he remained until 1499.
During this time he was attending the Calchi's feud and was spending his spare time in one of the different villas that the family owned on the hill of Vescogna, among which the most important one was called "Il Castellaccio". Inside the letter, we find a wide room with vaults and a fresco painting cheracterized by a delicate motive resembling that of Castello Sforzesco in Milan located in the "Sala della Assi".
During his time in Milan, between 1506 and 1513, under the government of Luis XII (who was his first patron, having Lodovico il Moro already resigned from his public office), he wsa often going to the area near the Adda river. Yet in 1509, Leonardo was in Lecco to conduct his researches about the navigability of the river: we can find evidence of this in the "Atlantic Code", in which he assumed a linking channel between lake Como and Lambro river that goes through theb lafes of Oggiono and Pusiano, although it turned out to be unnfeasible project.
Leonardo would also develop a system made of dams between Brivio and Pusiano. It is acknowledged by some experts that there are references of the Lecco surrounding area in some of his works, especially of the mount Grigna, Resegone and San Martino, Valassina valley, Mandello and Altolario. A massive project described in a drawing of "Sheets of Windsor" (1478-1518), most probably developed by Leonardo da Vinci, was the Ferry of Imbersago, whose working system is based on a towline that exploits the energy created by the current flowing.
(ref."Lecco e la sua provincia-K.Sala";"Adda, anima lombarda-V.Buratti, G.Fumagalli, F.Mavero")
(ill."Port of Canonica di Vaprio-Sheets of Windsor-Royal Collection)
  
FRANCESCO SFORZA (1401-1466)
  
Francesco Sforza was born in San Miniato in 1401 and spent his childhood in Florence at the ferrarese Estensi court. Following his father's step, he acquired fame as a vailant leader and in 1425 he began to serve Filippo Maria Visconti, Lord of Milan. He married Visconti's daugther Bianca, in 1441. Despite the marriage, the relation between the two men with strong personalities was always difficult, so much that in May of 1446, an edict of Duke made known that Sforza was his public enemy. On the 3th of August 1447, the Duke Filippo died and Milan became the scene of violence and looting; even the peasants of Brianza took the opportunity to loot. On the 14 August, the Visconti dynasty was replaced by the Aurea Ambrosian Republic that had struck an alliance with the historic Venetian enemies to fight Francesco Sforza who by then had claimed possession of the Duchy.
After continuous change of scenarios and covenants, at the end of 1449 the troops from Sforza occupied the high grounds near the river Adda, feud of the faithful Calchi allies. From Milan arrived orders that the soldiers should meet in Monza and from there attack the Venetian troops that were building a bridge at Brivio, through which the supplies for the city were delivered.
Francesco Sforza decided to face the enemy, preventing those on the mount San Genesio to descended to Calco and the Venetians who were still beyond the river, to cross it with the barge. Summoning his commanders he showed the danger of being caught between two fires. With a fast and steady march in perfect silence, which took place in a very cold night, he headed towards the valley of Rovagnate and Sirtori surprising the enemy; few men were left at Calco to control the moves of the Venetians who used the opportunity to assault the hill of Vescogna, that was bravely and fiercely defended by Giovanni Calco until the victorious return of Sforza. Without hope, the garrison of San Genesio descended the hill and the Venetians crossed the river on 1th of January 1450.
The Milanese, now exhausted, surrendered to Francesco who, on the 25 March 1450, along with his wife and his son Galeazzo Maria solemny entered in Milan to be proclaimed Duke.
In the years of his rule he proved to be a good leader. He modernized the city and created an efficient tax system; his court became an important artistic and cultural centre, in wich representatives of the family Calchi held important and prestigious positions.
(rif."Brivio al di quà e al di là dell'Adda-G.Medolago";"Storia di Monza e della Brianza-A.Bosisio,G.Vismara")
  
BARTOLOMEO CALCO (1434-1508)
  
Bartolomeo Calco was born in 1434 most likely in Milan. He was the attorney of the ducal court at the time when Galeazzo Maria was killed in 1476 and his wife Bona di Savoia took office in the name of her son Gian Galeazzo, who was only 7 years old.
Bona di Savoia wanted to be supported from the Castle's secret Council, a government organization whose newly appointed secretary was Bartolomeo. She helped Lodovico Maria Sforza, know as "Il Moro", to return to Milan but she was ousted together with her son by the latter. As Prime ducal Secretary of Lodovico,  was responsible for international affairs: he was managing the corrispondence with foreign princes and european ministers and regarding the most important issues, he was dealing with the duke who was aften resting and going hunting on the hill of Vescogna to recover from his stressful public life.
Lodovico Il Moro's cultural project mirrors that of a typical and perfect renaissance figure and Bartolomeo, who was a man of letters beside being a politician, was his natural executor. He reorganized public school, he patronized culture and arts, by inviting both Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci to come the court of Milan and offering protection to many artists."He was a refined intellectual praised by the greatest people of his time . .".  He died in 1508 and his tomb is kept in the Calchi family's sepulcher in the church of Santa Maria della Passione in Milan.
(ref."Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani-Edizioni Treccani; Calchi.it)
  
TRISTANO CALCO (born?-1515?)
  
Tristano Calchi was probably born shortly before the first half of the XV century from Andrea and Maddalena Caimi. He enjoyed the protectionism of the clerk Bartolomeo Calco and was employed in the secret council of the Castle. His first historical essay dates to 1489 but he would write other compositions to celebrate the weddings at the court.
After historiographer Merula's death, he got commissioned by his lord Lodovico Sforza to write the Visconti's story. Once he undertook this job, he decided he would rather write about the entire State  than just the family. He essay "Mediolanensis Historiae Patriae"  goes from Milan's origin through the year 1322 and it reconstructs the story of the family with impartiality and coherence, therefore differentiating from his predecessor's work; his latin is simple but elegant, effective in its conciseness. For his historical research, he collaborated with autorities and he used reference letters by Lodovico il Moro in order to have access to archives and pubblic libraries both in the dukedom and outside. He is reported to have come to family's property of Vescogna to recover from his writing efforts. His essay was however published in Milan only in 1627.
(ref."Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani-Edizioni Treccani)
  
GIUSEPPE GHISLANZONI (1896-1918)
  
Giuseppe Maria Emilio Carlo Alessandro, born in Vescogna on december 22nd 1896, he was the son of Carlo and Alessandra Serassi. At the outbreak of the World War I, he joined the "Regia Aereonautica" with the enrollment to the aviation school of Pisa and Busto Arsizio.
In January 1916 he was battling at front and after recovering from an airplane accident, he was assigned an airplane Nieuport-Macchi Ni10. During the morning of February 26th 1918, he landed on the plateau of Asiago with is special hunting team, but following a blowout to the engine, he was forced to return to the base to change aircraft. While he was trying to reunite with his team again, he was intercepted by Austrian aviation and he was involved in an aerial combat. He died shortly thereafter by crashing with his aircraft near Melago.
Giuseppe was later rewarded with a silver medal as recognition for his military service and he would be later remembered as a valuable pilot who carried out many air patrols, demonstrating high sense of duty and no fear for threats.
The "Areo Club" in Como, Italy was named after Giuseppe Ghislanzoni in 1930.
  (ref."Decorati al Valore Militare della Provincia di Como-Editrice Historia)

G.Ghislanzoni

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Leonardo in Vescogna

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