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The villages of Tremezzina


Isola Comacina is the only island of lake Como. Starting at least from the late Roman Empire the island has been a fortified stronghold. Later it became a military place for the Goths first and for the Byzantines afterwards who surrendered to the Longbards in 588. During the ten years' war (1118 - 1127) Isola Comacina was allied with Milan against Como and because of that, in 1169 the people of Como attacked and destroyed the settlement setting the island on fire. Since then the island has been uninhabited, but the event is still remembered every year with a religious and folkloristic ceremony that take place at mid summer day (St. John, the last Saturday of June). In 1914, some excavations were started on the island. They brought to light the ruins of the ancient fortress, once connected to the complicate watch tower system which covered all the lake, together with a number of sacred buildings. Of these relics set in the eastern zone of the island the most important ones are the excavations of the church of Santa Eufemia, the Baptistery and the Church of San Giovanni. The excavations of Santa Eufemia are believed to belong to the paleo Christian period (the very beginning of Christianity). The church was attested in the 7th century and became a Canonical College in 1031. The relics of the church reveal an imposing structure composed of three apses and three aisles, scanned by octagonal pillars. The Presbytery is joined to the choir by a middle bay, which is heightened up above the crypt by eight pillars and a cross vault. Next to the facade is the bell tower decorated with semi-columns. The only still existing capital of the crypt is decorated with acanthus leaves and can be seen on the terrace of the local restaurant. Inside the baroque church of San Giovanni are visible some relics of the most ancient structure of the archaic paleo-Christian church. Behind San Giovanni church there are the ruins of the Baptistery that reveal a be-apses structure with a three coloured mosaic floor decorated with floral and geometrical figures of the 5th century a. C. At its West Side there are the remains of the paleo-Christian church of Santa Maria in Portico. Further westward there are the ruins of the church of San Pietro in Castello, probably of Roman era. At the west most point of the island, embodied into a farmhouse, there are some remains of the monastic church of San Faustian and Giovita.
How to reach Isola Comacina: By car or bus to Sala Comacina and private boat service to the island.

The Parish Church of Santo Stefano was built on the ruins of Roman hot-bath. In 1933, in the area nearby the church, it was found a grave of the Roman Empire period. Other ruins of the Roman era were found nearby the mouth of Perlana stream, near the point of Lavedo heights, where there was one of the many Villas Pliny the Young had on lake Como called la Comoedia (comedy). Of this villa, in 1847, were rescued two pillar fragments with Corinthians capitals that are now preserved at the Archaeological Museum of Como. In 1908 - 1909, along the road that leads to the shrine of Madonna del Soccorso, some ancient graves were discovered. In one of them it was found a coin of the Roman Emperor Giustiniano, which enabled the experts to date the graves to the 6th century. The ancient nucleus of Lenno is situated at the Northwest side of the height of Lavedo. Right in its center stands the Parishchurch dedicate to Santo Stefano, and in a detached position there is the Baptistery of Saint John. Both of them belonged to a larger sacred complex surrounded by walls which once also included the chapels of San Zeno and Santa Maria, next to the presbytery, and a cemetery yard. Among the most ancient remains kept in the Parish church there are three pagan tombstones and twelve Christian ones. They are now embodied into the atrium walls (three), into the left external wall (one) and in the crypt walls (underneath the church). Engraved into the stone, they bear the dates 535 (or 539) and 571, together with some other Christian symbols. The access to the crypt is through a trapdoor in the floor of the parish church, which is usually kept closed although it is possible the access previous permission by the Priest. The crypt is of trapezoidal shape with five bays and three cross- vaulted apses. The lateral semi - capitals date to the 5th and 7th century, while the capitals of the central pillars could be ascribed either to the late paleo-Christian or to the early medieval era with archaizing early Romanesque style. The structure of the Parish church is paleo-Christian with porches, which probably during the 16th century were closed to form the lateral aisles. The remains of a fresco depicting female Saints testify the medieval admittance to the church. The stone water-basin at the main entrance and some fragments of a fresco (now part of the first chapel at the right hand side). are of the 15th century. During the 17th century, the church was renewed in Baroquette style. Outside the church, at its left hand side there is the Baptistery of San Giovanni, a building of octagonal plan with apse facing North. The external walls are framed with arches divided in groups of three supported by semi-columns. The roof, topped with a small square bell tower, is covered with stone tiles. The front doorway has three arches (two of them blinded) supported by semi columns topped with reutilized capitals which are therefore difficult to date. Inside the Baptistery there are some fragments of a medieval fresco and some Baroque decorations all in great decay. The building itself dates to the second half of the 11th century. During summer, the Baptistery hosts some art exhibitions. If closed, please ask the Priest.
How to reach Lenno: By car, bus or boat.

Its name comes from the roman Pago degli Ausuciati (village of the Ausuciati). In early Middle Ages it was under the rule of the powerful military and religious center of Isola Comacina. For that reason it was involved in the ferocious fight between the Longbards allied with the Milanese and the Como people, until these last ones completely destroyed Isola Comacina in 1169. Some roman relics were found within the area of the parish church of Sant'Agata and Sisino. The church is of Romanesque style with a bell tower of the 11th century. It is situated in a lower position in respect to the nowadays road. Inside it is possible to see a roman altar of the 2nd - 3rd century, dedicated to the Matrone (noble ladies) and to the protecting Genius of the village. Toward the left wall there is a precious stone water-basin with zoomorphic relieves brimmed with geometrical motives, which date to the 12th century. On the left wall there are some fragments of a fresco representing a Crucifixion, probably of the 12th century. Under it there are some other fragments of a fresco dating 1489. In 1907, during some diggings nearby the church were discovered two incineration Celtic graves inside which were rescued some bronze and iron vases and fibulae.

Ospedaletto is a cluster of Ossuccio. It owes its name to the Hospitium (hospital) joined to the church of Santa Maria Maddalena documented since 1169, but datable between the 11th and 12th century. The church is composed of one only hall proceeded by a heavily restored porch. Embodied into the right wall of the porch there is a zoomorphic frieze, a remarkable example of Romanesque sculpture. Interesting and singular is the bell tower ending with a later added Gothic cell datable between the 14th and 15th century. Inside the church are still visible some traces of a fresco depicting a Panteocrator Christ while the frescoes on the right wall are of the early 1600 and the scagliola (stucco) altar front is of the 18th century.
How to reach Ossuccio By caror by bus

In the year 16 b. C., the Alpine people raised against the roman conquerors, involving in their rebellion the Reti and the Vindelici, who inhabited Grisonland, the Tyrol and the lands as far as the Danube river. For that reason, the Roman Emperor Augusts charged his two adopted sons, Druso and Tiberio, to quench the revolt, which they did in a year's time. This historical event is at the origin of the whole road system in the northern part of Lombardy, including our via Regina. For sure, to reach the lands beyond the Alps in order to quench the revolt, the Roman army utilized the already existing narrow paths, which ran on the western side of lake Como. Although narrow, the trails proved to be of great strategic and tactical importance, so the Romans decided to turn them into proper roads, also because they were planning to invade the whole Germany within a few years. The archaic paths were traced by Claudio Marcello in 196 b. C. and were finished under Julius Caesar at the time he founded the town of New Como. The first road ran higher than the later one, although it had never been completely neglected and in the Middle Ages, people found it safer to use the ancient path because of the many hordes of soldiers of venture coming down from the Alps. The road traced after the 16 -15 b. C. war ran as near the coast as possible, but the Roman had to face some geological difficulties because of the many rocky heights along shore. So, when it was impossible to avoid those difficult points, they made the road climb up the steep slopes to overpass them. It is still possible to walk one of these steep segments of the roman Via Regia that overpasses Sasso Rancio, 337 meters high. The walk is 7 kms. long starting from Nobiallo, a medieval village next to Menaggio, right from the Shrine of Madonna della Pace. Here the path starts rising to reach the very top of Sasso Rancio from where one can enjoy a beautiful sight of the lake. Then the path starts to lower down towards Acquaseria and at Sant'Abbondio where it joins the modern road. After a short interruption (about 200 meters), it is possible to pick up again the ancient path that runs along the coast as far as Villa Locatelli from where it starts mounting up hill running half way until it reaches the bridge over the Acquaseria stream. At Molvedo the path joins once more the modern road (that runs over the ancient one) for about 100 meters, then it continues as far as the Church of Santa Maria Rezzonico. We suggest visiting this church either for its paintings or for its Baroque decorations. Next to the church there are the ruins of an ancient fortress of the 5th - 6th century, situated on the south side of the ancient way, which from here runs parallel to the modern one until it reaches a bridge flying over Val Gigina. Then the path starts to mount up towards the so called Castellaccio (bad looking castle), which consists in the ruins of a watchtower set above the sothern entrance of a tunnel. From here the path goes steep down to Rezzonico where it ends.
How to reach Nobiallo from Tremezzina: By bus or by car.
How to come back from Rezzonico: By bus or by car.


Texts by Bina Battistella Fraquelli
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