National territories have no borders and clearly have neither entrances nor exits, but when we talk about Oltrepò Pavese, we not only discover that it has a "capital", as it is called, being the largest, most populous and economically stronger town in the area, but above all it has a door: Voghera, "The door of Oltrepò Pavese".
Where is it Voghera
Voghera, with almost 40,000 citizens, is located in the Province of Pavia, in the Oltrepò Pavese.
As we said in the post about Oltrepò Pavese, it has always been a strategic point and today a crossroads of motorways and railway lines, and this makes it easily accessible from all over Italy and beyond, its proximity to Milan and its airports, but also from Turin, Genoa, and Bologna.
For this reason, thanks to the Milan-Genoa and Turin-Piacenza motorways, the same routes also for the railway line, Voghera for its geographical and strategic position can be considered an excellent "base camp" surrounded by nature between the plains and hills. , to visit the great cities of the North and then return to peace and tranquility, tasting the flavors that the Vogherese area is rich in!
A bit of history
This delightful town south of the imposing River Pò, has its first "appearance" already in Roman times with the name of Iria, a small settlement on the banks of the Staffora River, became a "Vicus", a Vicus Iriae village, until the Middle Ages when it was called Viqueria, which was a thriving village thanks, at that times to intense commercial exchanges, markets and fairs and a passageway for pilgrimages to and from the Holy Land and Rome.
In fact, it was in 896 that on the way back to France, San Bovo, the current Patron Saint of the city, died in one of the numerous shelters and hospitals for travelers who passed through Voghera, also for the busy commercial route that connected the Po valley. to the Ligurian sea: The Via del Sale.
Voghera, a thriving commercial center and located on a fundamental road intersection, a passage between north and south (and since 1858 also by rail), since the Middle Ages, was often attacked and sometimes even destroyed, as well as during the Second World War. When the city was rebuilt over the years it has experienced a demographic, architectural and road development.
The flavors and typical products of Voghera
When we talk about Voghera we are talking about Oltrepò, a very fertile territory that includes not only the products of nature, such as vegetables and fruit, but also locals specialities as cold cuts, wines, and desserts, which we will talk about in the next episodes of this journey to discover the Oltrepò Pavese.
But if we have to talk about "Di Voghera", let's count first
The Voghera Pepper, which from 1920 to 1950 was exported all over the world, now production has decreased, but the cubic-shaped and light green Peperone di Voghera has a delicate, crunchy and unobtrusive flavor, moreover it is very digestible and here it is also used raw but above all for the famous Risotto alla Vogherese.
The golden onion of Voghera has a diameter of 6 centimeters and is very fragrant and savory, used in omelettes and in oven cooking.
Mostarda di Voghera from the French "moût ardent", "burning must": because it involved the use of cooked grape must mixed with mustard grains to obtain a spicy sauce that went well with roasts and meats. It seems that it was already produced in the 14th century. https://www.mostardadivoghera.it/ita/mostarda-di-voghera
Later, and until today we can find it of Cherries, pears, apricots, peaches, figs, melon, white pumpkin, mandarins, lemons, oranges, cedar, chestnuts. A tasty bouquet with the warm colors of summer and autumn, in which the spicy note of mustard grains, which invades the nostrils, is immediately softened by the sweetness of the candied fruit. A goodness on cheeses and even on a toast.
The Vogherese Cake: the orizginal name is Zuppa di Voghera is a cake prepared using two layers, then conveyed into one, of sponge cake, which are then filled with cream, cream and coffee, then covered with custard and decorated with chocolate. It must be consumed fresh and is suitable for any palate, also because it is free of spirits.
Stracchino from Voghera It is a sweet semifreddo that presents itself with the right balance of softness and consistency, offering the palate a pleasant alternation of sweet given by zabaglione and bitter given by cocoa.
The "agnolotti alla vogherese": This is a first course that is still present on the tables of the Vogheresi: "rolls" of fresh, thin, soft pasta, prepared with care and delicacy that hide a delicious meat filling. They are cooked to be served "dry".
The "agnolotti della festa" in Voghera are prepared with a beef stew filling, they must always be seasoned with stew sauce after being cooked in a mixed meat broth and must be more or less square in shape. A goodness!
Italy is also the homeland of bread, it has hundreds of different types. In Voghera the bread is the Micca. Crunchy crust and compact and soft crumb, it invariably accompanies an aperitif, or even a snack with the famous salame of Varzi and the Pinot Noir or the Bonarda wine the classic Wines from Oltrepò.
And finally we close with a kiss: Voghera's kiss of dame
"Give me a hundred kisses, a thousand kisses and more kisses and more kisses" said the poet Catullus to his beloved in the 1st century BC.
This is how the famous Baci di Dama di Voghera are born; made up of two crumbly biscuits with cocoa, hazelnuts and almond, which are combined with a chocolate filling like two lips close to a kiss.
What to see and what to do in Voghera
Arriving in Voghera, its large dome can already be seen from afar, that of the Duomo
The road will lead directly to the magnificent square, where the Cathedral of Voghera has stood majestically since the 17th century. In a Renaissance variant, and with three naves it is truly the symbol of Voghera. Its bell tower accompanies the passing of the hours in the city with its tolls.
The homonymous, Piazza Duomo, large, spacious, all made in pebbles, is the beating heart of this city, especially on Tuesdays and Fridays when it becomes the city market square.
A romantic portico embraces the square, where you can walk, shop, meet and have an aperitif.
Through side streets, you reach the Via Emilia, the pedestrian street famous for the "tubs" and where we also find the Theater Social since 1845, in neoclassical style, called La Piccola Scala.
Continuing on the Via Emilia, we arrive at the former Military Barracks of the Cavalry of Vittorio Emanuele II, a monumental complex of military origin from 1748 and which housed over 400 horses and 4 infantry battalions.
Here, in May, the famous Ascension Fair has been held in Voghera since the XIV century, with the unmissable fireworks
Crossing trought the tree-lined, as well as most of the streets of Voghera, via Carlo Marx, where until a few years ago there was an Ancient Steam Locomotive, monuments to testify the importance of the Railway Workshops and also to the important intersection Vogherese railway, you arrive at Castello Visconteo, an imposing brick structure from the mid-1300s, where there are also some frescoes by Bramantino.
The Red Church, so renamed because of the red bricks with which it was built in Lombard Romanesque style in the 12th century, is the most important church in the city, the Shrine of the Cavalry Temple preserves all the arms of the arms.
There is also to visit the Historical Museum (from Napoleon to the twentieth century) and the Museum of Natural Sciences with exhibitions of Zoology, Paleontology, Mineralogy, Botanic.
And much more...
In 1890 in Voghera there was also a Thermal Station, in fact thanks to two artesian wells the Salso-Bromo-Iodica water was conveyed from nearby Salice Terme.
The Green Way cycle path also begins here, replacing the old and abandoned Voghera-Varzi railway.
The green way, which in its long journey through the nature of the Oltrepo and troughts the villages that go from Voghera to Varzi, is also used for walks and for sports. You can find benches and tables for a picnic.
In a few years, the inclusion of the Green Way at VEN.TO. is expected. , the largest Italian cycle path that will connect Turin to Venice.
It is worth mentioning that this town was the birthplace of the world-famous stylist Valentino who, thanks to his Rosso Valentino, brought Made in Italy fashion to the world, and the famous writer of dozens of books, journalist and television science communicator at an international level. Massimo Polidoro, national secretary of CICAP (Italian committee for controlling pseudoscience claims) and one of the greatest experts of Leonardo da Vinci. In addition, the Gold Medal at the Archery Olympics Mauro Nespoli and the World Boxing Champion Giovanni Parisi.
In Voghera there is so much to do and so much to see, really recommended for a long weekend, you can visit it comfortably on foot or by bicycle, and being easily accessible, you can leave your car at home; but given its strategic position it could be a very strategic base to visit the nearby Turin, Genoa, Milan in a day or make a full immersion in the beautiful ancient villages of this territory to be discovered which is called Oltrepò Pavese.