Artificial canal

Detail of the canal bed of the old acequia of Visconti (ISAL Photo Archive, photograph by Giulia Bombelli)
Detail of the canal bed of the old acequia of Visconti (ISAL Photo Archive, photograph by Giulia Bombelli)

On the eastern side of the Villa, it is still possible today to make out a narrow channel contained by two small walls, and which is now dry. It is the old artificial canal of the Visconti era that determined the agricultural wealth of Desio and was staunchly defended by owners of these lands. Visconti had this canal built in 1383 to bring water from the River Seveso to his lands. With the decline of the fortunes of Bernabò Visconti the canal slowly disappeared, but in the 16th century, the lands surrounding Desio began to attract investments from the nobles and the bourgeoisie who repopulated the area and brought with them the socio-economic recovery of the territory.

It was, therefore, at this time that the acequia began to function again, transporting water for the irrigation of agricultural lands and making it possible to substitute traditional cereal crops with high quality products for the markets of the area.
The Rho family, owner of the complex until 1625, decisively declared their rights on the course of the canal, turning it into a source of income from the exploitation of the Mills. In 1817, when the Villa passed to the Traversi family, the course of the canal was strictly controlled by armed, salaried men because its water fed small proto-industrial activities and served the dense water network to beautify the park including the lake, now gone, in other words involving an area of about 6,000 square meters. Strongly determined to assert its privileges, the Traversi family was particularly active in denouncing and bringing to court anyone, individuals or entities, drawing water from the canal without explicit permission. The controversy continued until 1922, when the water sources that fed the canal were added to the list of public waters of the Province of Milan. Thus the Traversi family lost all rights and the dominance over the waters of the canal.
Today the government is committed to the recovery of its banks and small passages, involving also the local voluntary sector interested in enhancing this particular aspect of the process of agricultural production of Desio and perhaps giving a different consideration today to the social conflicts that were created.