At the confluence of the rivers Ticino and Po, Pavia constituted a natural fortress surrounded by swamps in which armies plunged (the bad job made it fevers and dysentery ...)
In the spring of 1155 Federico di Svevia known as 'Barbarossa' crowned himself king of Italy in the newly completed Basilica of San Michele Maggiore.
Before him, however, all the Lombard kings had been crowned in San Michele and even Charlemagne had not been able to resist the lust of being crowned king in San Michele.
The Longobard basilica had been destroyed by a fire in 1004, but it is just completed when Federico wears the iron crown.
The 'iron crown' is conserved in Monza.
The basilica is built in sandstone, a relatively soft stone (but still better than terracotta).
This stone contributes to the fascination that the artefact of a thousand years ago exerts on visitors.
In the decorations of the portals could not miss the two-tailed siren, next to other themes dear to the stonecutters that decorated the cathedrals between around the twelfth century.
The crypt preserves capitals probably dating back to before 1004.
The church of San Pietro in ciel d'oro is also splendid: founded in the 8th century and rebuilt in the 12th, it houses the remains of Sant'Agostino and San Severino Boezio.
It was the place where Paolo Diacono, the historian of the Lombards, was formed.
The ceiling had a precious decoration in gold leaf (the name derives from it) which did not resist Napoleon's desires.