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Home » Itineraries » Trip to the Panperduto Dam: an architectural, cultural and environmental jewel

Spring has finally returned: what better opportunity to take a weekend trip into nature and among the many cultural assets nestled in Lombardy? Like the Panperduto Dam, a jewel of industrial hydraulics inaugurated in 1884, whose name has a curious and still uncertain origin.

Let's start with a bit of geography: the Panperduto Dam is located in Somma Lombardo, a municipality of almost 15.000 inhabitants in the province of Varese. It has a great history that starts from the Ancient Romans (it was an important junction of the Roman consular road called via Mediolanum-Verbannus by historians) and which saw it as a protagonist in the Visconti age in Lombardy: in fact, the Visconti Castle of San Vito can still be visited today, fortress built in the XNUMXth century to protect Milan.

Panperduto Dam: origins and curiosities

The Panperduto Dam represents the third artificial barrier on the Ticino river, downstream from Lake Maggiore, and was built by the engineers Villoresi and Meraviglia at the end of the 1800th century to irrigate the agricultural plots north of Milan using the waters of the pre-Alpine lakes.

The intake building, 70 meters long, is a monument of hydraulic engineering from the XNUMXth century, the result of a project that involved both the Canton of Ticino and Lombardy, and still represents the key element of the entire hydraulic system of the 'East Ticino.

The origin of the name "Panperduto" is still uncertain: there are those who attribute it to the exorbitant costs for the construction of the work which were then not recovered; those who refer to the very low-cost labor used, who could barely get their daily bread with their miserable wages; those who believe instead that the name is to be linked to the risk of capsizing that the boats transporting goods, especially food, faced on that stretch of the Ticino river, sometimes losing the load and the day's earnings, i.e. the "bread".

Panperduto Dam: museum and water games

Thanks also to the recent renovations in recent years, the Dam has become a real tourist site: through the Municipality of Somma Lombardo, in fact, it is possible to book guided tours (by boat or on foot) of the entire Panperduto complex. The visit itinerary lasts approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes; the route, easy and also suitable for families with children, is along the canal towpath and the paths of Confurto Island.
A simple relaxing walk in the open air in the Ticino park along the Panperduto is also possible: this itinerary is certainly recommended especially for photo enthusiasts thanks to its enchanting and diverse views: from nature to industrial archaeology, passing through the variety of flora and fauna, there is also no shortage of opportunities to try 0 km products in the nearby farmhouse.

Inside the complex there is the "Water Games Garden": a play space, especially for the little ones, to understand and experience the movement and power of water. Archimedes' screws, mills, channels, gates and pumps will teach children the basic notions of the hydrodynamic and kinetic force of water.

There is also the Italian-Swiss Water Museum: an artistic-cultural asset open to the public since 2016. The museum was born from the recovery of a building used as a warehouse for maintenance tools, in the center of the island of Confurto: today has the task of showing the origins, history and structure of the Ticino hydraulic basin. Inside the museum, water is presented as an essential good for agriculture, food and the production of electricity.

Naturalistic context and recent renovation

As already mentioned, the Panperduto Dam in Somma Lombardo is a hydraulic junction immersed in nature where water, obviously, is the absolute protagonist.

It represents a great historical and environmental heritage that can be enjoyed by everyone: it is in fact a suitable route for a trip with the whole family, for sports enthusiasts who can run and cycle (path E1) and it is also a river itinerary.

In recent years the Panperduto Dam has been the subject of redevelopment interventions and has become a tourist attraction. In 2015, the renovation of the hydraulic guard gate was completed, a valuable historic building, transformed into a hostel and café bar, to accommodate the flow of tourists along the river and cycle/pedestrian itinerary.

How to get there: car sharing as an intelligent ally

Along the banks of the Ticino and on the border with Piedmont, the Panperduto Dam is approximately 55km from Milan, 50km from Como and 25km from Varese, the three closest capitals.

So how can you plan a pleasant trip out of town while saving on petrol and polluting as little as possible?
Our advice is to try car sharing E-VAI: thanks to its electric cars, CO2 emissions are zero and you can also save on rentals of at least 3 hours thanks to the promotions active every month. Furthermore, thanks to its approximately 300 stations E-VAI throughout Lombardy, you can reach this wonderful destination practically from wherever you are: just find theE-VAI nearest point and book the car in just a few clicks.

On the other hand, to preserve the natural beauty and biodiversity of these unique places in Lombardy, each of us must do our part: using electric car sharing undoubtedly represents an intelligent solution.

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