The 4th stage of the Via Francisca is a succession of “pearls” to discover: artistic beauties, historical monuments, religious testimonies, natural oases and breathtaking views.
The departure is from Castiglione Olona, a historic village of ancient origins located on the course of the Olona River. The trail on which we walk passes through the RTO park and follows the old railroad track that from Castiglione Olona follows the river to Cairate. The trail is easy, while being inside nature we pass population centers where services, pharmacies and stores are available.
The trail soon takes us to the Monastery of Torba, a UNESCO property nestled in the woods and managed by Fai (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) and a symbol of the province of Varese. It stands at the base of the archaeological park of Castelseprio, which began as a military outpost in the late Roman Empire and became a place of prayer and work for Benedictine nuns later. Castelseprio is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It includes a fortified area and a walled village. There is another monastery along this stage, that of Cairate: the monastery of St. Mary of the Assumption. It was one of the first monastic settlements in Lombardy, linked to Castelseprio and the monastery of Torba.
From Cairate we continue for a short distance to Castellanza. We have the opportunity to discover two poor reception points, choosing between the green RTO Park or the city. Continuing our journey from Cairate we arrive after a few kilometers at Fagnano Olona. Here we have the opportunity to take advantage of a nice refreshment point nestled in the park, equipped with every comfort from electrical outlets to fresh running water.
Here stands the headquarters of the Calimali Landing. A nonprofit organization run by volunteers. The Calimali Association, which has been present in Fagnano Olona since 1981, was officially established in 1993 and deals with Environment and Culture. Deviating just 2 km, we find ourselves in front of another pilgrim reception point: the Stoà Youth Center, in Busto Arsizio. Stoà Youth Center is a space for openness and confrontation, which through cultural, social and artistic initiatives aims to offer new looks and insights into everyday life and the world: literature, music, photography, painting, street art, design, cooking, in dialogue with established artists and professionals or with young people who “have something to say.”