The territory of Parco Lombardo della Valle del Ticino can be divided into four areas:
The so-called river valley is the part which has been dug by the river in the sediments of the Lombard plain. It represents the 40% of the total surface of the Park and, from a naturalistic point of view, it is the richest and most interesting area. The agriculture covering the 60% of the Park territory, is favored by the richness in water: the fields creep into the woods, above all in the lower part of the river, where the terraces are gentler. Here you can find wonderful wetlands characterized by the presence of oxbow lakes and "mortizze" (a sort of water-meadows) where the water flows slowly or stagnates and where a luxuriant hygrophilous vegetation grows.
The irrigated plain is crossed by artificial and irrigation canals and it is situated in the south-central part of the Park, in the south of the Villoresi canal. Agriculture is one of the most intense activities carried out in the area. The main cultivations are rice and corn alternating with poplar fields. Growings which resisted to intensive methods. Among these, the water meadows have a great historical importance.
The dry plateau is situated in the north and it is covered by heathland which have been partially transformed by industrialization. It is characterized by several settlements. The towns have risen in a chaotic manner forming a nebula of piedmont centers which is connected to the metropolis of Milan along the way of the Sempione.
The pre-alpine hills are situated in the most northern part of the Park, in the province of Varese. It is a pleasant area for its mild climate and for its richness in pinewoods facing on the southern shores of Lago Maggiore.
The river Ticino has always represented a natural border between civilizations, nations, people, and sovereigns that have fortified this strategic area with watchtowers and castles.
Abbiategrasso Castle, Vigevano Castle, Villa Visconti in Cassindetta di Lugagnano, Bereguardo Castle, Somma Lombardo Castle, Villa Gaia and Borgo Archinto in Robecco sul Naviglio, Morimondo Abbey... are just a few of the artistic treasures situated in the Park territory.
Among the several castles situated in the Park's territory, there are the fortresses of Vigevano, Pavia, Somma Lombardo, Bereguardo tower; of others only a few rests remain: it is the case of Ozzero, Besate or Vergiate; some of them have been so rearranged during the centuries that they are almost unrecognizable: Garlasco, Arsago Seprio and Bernate Ticino.
The most important religious centers, provided with imposing buildings, have been the monasteries and the abbeys. In Arsago Seprio there is one of the most important religious buildings of the northern part of the Park. The baptistry, built in the 12th century in front of the wonderful church of San Vittore, has an octagonal plant with a semicircular or trapezoidal-shaped niche obtained from the thickness of the walls.
The whole area, from Lago Maggiore to the river Po, has provided the researchers a considerable quantity of finds, to the extent that the cultural periods characterizing the area over the centuries have been accurately reconstructed. Despite the segmentation in periods and sub-periods, useful for the researchers, it has been demonstrated that the area has been constantly populated and that several cultures developed here also at the same time, overlapping and partially blending above all in the pre- and proto-historic periods.
It might be surprising today to discover that, until the 19th century, the most important Italian port for goods tonnage was the port of Milan.
Until the mid-19th century, in the "Darsena" (dockyard) of Milan, a great quantity of building material, timber and fuel, agricultural products, fabrics, cattle, and cereals arrived here on big barges... goods of all genres, transported along a complex channel network: the so-called "navigli".
Parco Lombardo della Valle del Ticino covers an area of 91,140 hectares. A territory where the natural element (22 thousand hectares) and the agricultural element (47 thousand hectares) meet, a urbanized territory on the management of which the Park must give compatibility indications in the town planning instruments, respecting and enhancing the environmental heritage. On the 22 thousand hectares of territory, 47 Municipalities interact: they are situated in the provinces of Milano, Pavia, and Varese. This complex, for its historical features and landscape, offers to the visitor a network of "museums in the open air".