Adda river is the natural protagonist of The Betrothed. Unforgettable in the heart rending ” farewell mountains source of waters” while Lucia leaves her beloved Lecco.
Adda river is a natural major player in the Betrothed, in fact Manzoni mentions it several times and we can experience it firstly together with Lucia, while leaving Lecco to Monza and then with Renzo.
Renzo is in Milan during the riots for bread and is aware to be on police’s list, so decides to escape and reaches Adda to put him in a safe place in the countryside of Bergamo, where his cousin Bortolo lives. At the time Bergamo was a Venetian possession, “land of St. Mark”, in fact the Peace of Lodi (1454) ratified the status quo in Lombardy and Adda river becomes the natural border between the Duchy of Milan and the Republic of Venice.
Manzoni describes Adda river in all its beauty: a natureframework in which the player is directly involved, as if he was on the boat together with Renzo and Lucia. Adda offers several slices of landscape: many nature paths imbued with culture, industrial archaeological sites and historic buildings, without forgetting the importance of Leonardo da Vinci and his projects about the river.
Cover image: illustration darft for the edition of The Betrothed dated 1840 Library Braidense
As he stopped for a moment, before putting his design in execution, the wind brought a new sound to his ear—the murmur of running water. Intently listening, to ascertain if his senses did not deceive him, he cried out, “It is the Adda!” His fatigue vanished, his pulse returned, his blood flowed freely through his veins, his fears disappeared; and guided by the friendly sound, he went forward. He soon reached the extremity of the plain, and found himself on the edge of a steep precipice, whence looking downward, he discovered, through the bushes, the long-desired river, and, on the other side of it, villages scattered here and there, with hills in the distance; and on the summit of one of these a whitish spot, which in the dimness he took to be a city; Bergamo certainly!
(…)Renzo; now that the Adda was almost passed, he began to fear that it might not, at this place, serve for the boundary between the states, and that, this obstacle surmounted, there would yet be others remaining. He spoke to the fisherman, and pointing to the white spot he had noticed the night before, and which was now much more distinct, “Is that Bergamo?” said he.
“The city of Bergamo,” replied the fisherman.
“And the other shore, does it belong to Bergamo?”
“It is the territory of St. Mark.”
“Long live St. Mark!” cried Renzo. The fisherman made no reply.