camminacitta

A village and a castle, under the aegis of the Magi

Stage 1  – From the jetty to via Calvi

Parco Locale di Interesse Sovracomunale della Val Sanagra (Sanagra Valley Intermunicipal Park)Old Menaggio-Porlezza RailwayBaptistery of St. John the Baptist and PraetoriumOspedale dei Tre Re Magi (Hospice of the Three Kings)Church of St. Martha

Parco Locale di Interesse Sovracomunale della Val Sanagra (Sanagra Valley Intermunicipal Park)

Description

Val Sanagra is a splendid valley in the heart of the Lepontine Alps, taking its name from the stream which enters Lake Como at Menaggio.

Sanagra Valley’s main feature is the wilderness of its environment, a mosaic of woods, grasslands and mountain pastures. The conservation of natural heritage, the lack of growing urbanization, and, by contrast, the ease of communication and accessibility render this valley one of the most interesting areas of Lake Como.

In 2005, further to the endeavours of the municipalities of Grandola ed Uniti and Menaggio, a Local Park covering the above inter-municipal area (Parco Locale di Interesse Sovracomunale – PLIS) was created in the Sanagra Valley in order to safeguard its naturalistic, historical, and anthropical features.

(Adaption from the website http://www.museovalsanagra.it)

Contacts

Parco Val Sanagra c/o Municipality of Grandola e Uniti; Tel. 0344.32115; e-mail: info@parcovalsanagra.it

Museo Etnografico e Naturalistico Val Sanagra c/o Villa Camozzi Grandola ed Uniti; Tel. 0344.32115; e-mail: info@museovalsanagra.it

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

More information on the Parco Locale di Interesse Sovracomunale della Val Sanagra (Sanagra Valley Inter-Municipal Park) available here

More information on the Museo Etnografico e Naturalistico della Val Sanagra (Sanagra Valley Ethnographic and Natural History Museum) available here

Old Menaggio-Porlezza Railway

Description

The Menaggio-Porlezza railway was created by engineer Emilio Olivieri, with the input of various public and private institutions, Italian as well as Swiss (the BSI bank in particular), in order to link Lake Como, Lake Lugano and the Verbano (i.e. Menaggio with Lugano and Luino) by rail and boat, and favour the connection of the Insubria region with northern Europe through the Gotthard railway line. The railway started to function in 1884: it was 12.241 kilometres long, reaching a gradient of approx. 180 metres, with a track gauge of 850 mm (quite unique for government owned railroads). In addition to travellers, whether tourists or commuters, it transported firewood and faggots for bakers from the woods of the Menaggio Valley, which were then transported to Como by boat.

Famous writer Franz Kafka used this railway line in September 1911. Unfortunately, its golden age ended when World War I broke out, and, after a change of ownership and management, the service was stopped on 30 October 1939. After the war attempts were made to put the line back in service, however unsuccessfully. Nowadays, the original course of the railway is a lovely footpath for a nice walk between the clear blue of the lakes and the green of the mountains.

«In Menaggio the railway track had little room, as it ran between the Regina Road and the retaining wall of the Olivi Nursery School’s garden for approx.150 meters on flat ground. The track ended with a rotating platform for engines. Two further tracks started from the same platform, the one further upstream ended in the depot, while the middle one was a little longer, reaching the far side of the depot. A small building called “Casello n° 1” stood in front of the platform, at the side of the mountain. The station square was located at a higher level – on average 1.60 m above the railroad – alongside the carriageway of the Regina State Road (which was a Provincial Road at the time), where a 10 step enclosed staircase led to the train platform. Until 1903, the station-master rooms, the ticket office with the waiting room, and the parcel delivery office, were located in a small building part of the Menaggio Hotel. The new Station building, erected at the beginning of the 20th century between the lakeshore and the Regina Road, had the shape of a horizontal capital V, with two floors and a basement. The smoothed point of the V, which faced the railway, had a large opening at ground floor level giving access to the ticket office and left luggage. The higher floor, accessible by a staircase on the right of the building, hosted the station-master rooms. The station café was located at the other end, facing the lake».

(Adaption from the website http://www.ferroviamenaggioporlezza.it)

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

More information on the old Menaggio-Porlezza railway available here

Baptistery of St. John the Baptist and Praetorium*

* building totally or partially in ruins

Information

Location: the old Baptistery of St. John the Baptist, next to the Praetorium, stood where the “Caffè del Pess” cafeteria is now

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

The Baptistery of Menaggio, probably of palaeo-Christian origin, had a single nave square plan, with the frescoed semicircular apse facing eastwards towards the lake; it was flanked by a belfry on the west side.

According to a hypothesis suggested by ancient documents, originally the Baptistery served as parish church; it was only later that this role was to be carried out by the old Collegiate Church of St. Stephen.

A sign of this building’s relevance is that, according to the Acts of the various Pastoral Visits and the local archpriest notes, it appears that many important religious functions, such as the baptismal font ceremony, celebrated on Maundy Thursday at least until the 17th century, when the Parish clergy received the holy oils and water, were still being held in the Baptistery. Moreover, according to a note made by Archpriest Bertarelli in 1638, the Menaggio community had the obligation to have a Mass celebrated in St. John every Friday to remember the old authorization to exercise a fishing right on the lake.

The Baptistery continued to be used for celebrations at least until the middle of the 18th century, notwithstanding the increasingly deteriorated conditions of the building; at the end of the century it was deconsecrated and the ownership transferred to the Municipality, which leased it to the Revenue Office as a warehouse for salt and tobacco. «In the same period, the neighbouring area, where the ancient Praetorium, now in ruins, once stood, was purchased by the Messa family, which built a house attached to the wall of the old Baptistery. In 1849 the Municipality resolved to sell the religious building (which was being used as a warehouse) minus the belfry and the clock – which remained under Municipal ownership – to the Erba brothers. A few years later the new owners purchased the adjacent Messa mansion and incorporated the two bordering buildings in a single unit, which still stands in Piazza Garibaldi today».

The belfry, which for centuries had marked the life of the community, was later demolished to recover material for the construction in 1860 of the Parish church bell tower.

The only surviving memory of the Baptistery is the plaque walled in the Corona Hotel, with the inscription «Contrada di S. Giovanni».

(Information drawn from Novecento anni da Mengaldo (1095-1995), Parrocchia di Santo Stefano, Menaggio 1995)

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Hospice of the Three Kings

Information

Location:  the old Three Kings Hospice was located in via Porta 1, inside a yellow three floor plastered building preceded by a small yard. Nowadays its ground floor hosts the “Osteria il Pozzo” restaurant

Paving: via Porta is paved with porphyry tiles

Architectural barriers: please mind the stone post and fire hydrant – both of which are approx. 1 metre high – placed next to the corner of the building, on the right as you come into via Porta

Access: as it is private property it is advisable to have a look at it from the outside

Services: parking available in the area, automated teller machine

Leisure and Food: hotels, cafes and restaurants nearby

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

Legend has it that the Hospice of the Three Kings was founded in 1163, when the procession that was taking the relics of the three Wise Men, stolen from the city of Milan by the Imperial Chancellor Rainard von Dassel after the city was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa, stopped in Menaggio. In actual fact, the date of establishment of this historic charitable institution of Menaggio, which for centuries, in conjunction with the Oratory of St. Martha, engaged in giving hospitality to travellers and assisting pilgrims and the sick, remains unknown.

The publication Novecento anni da Mengaldo (1095-1995), edited by the Parish, carries a description from 1707: «at the higher floor of the hospice – the building whereof had been restored in 1666 (as shown in a fresco with the Magi and Baby Jesus, visible on the external wall) – there were “two rooms, with two well arranged small beds to accommodate pilgrims, which in this case were two priests”, while at the lower floor, with more room available to accommodate pilgrims, lived a woman, “of sound morals and good reputation”, who acted as keeper in exchange for the right to live in the building. The author of the description also writes that “in addition to hospitality, single pilgrims are also offered a monetary aid, depending on needs” and, when required, “free hospitality is extended to as many as three days”. The hospice was managed by a “Minister” (a layman from the Community of Menaggio) and two “Deputies”, elected for a three year term, alternatively by the Collegiate Chapter and the Community of Menaggio. Each year the Minister had to report the activities of his administration to the Archpriest, at the presence of the two Deputies». Thanks to bequests and donations, the Hospital’s management was able to engage in other charity work, too, such as teaching to the poor children of the village, looking after the sick and poor for free, or paying dowries for the benefit of “spinsters” lacking means of their own.

However, due to increasing economic difficulties, the institution was suppressed at the end of the 18th century; the Hospice building, already a public property in 1820, was then transformed into a private home.

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Church of St. Martha

Information

Location: the church of St. Martha overlooks the right hand-side (when following our path) of via Calvi

Paving: via Calvi is mainly paved with porphyry cubes; on the sides there are two street-level pavements made of porphyry tiles

Architectural barriers: in order to access the church from via Calvi one must climb three stone steps

Access: from the entrance on the façade, at an angle with via Calvi

Services: parking available in the area, automated teller machine

Leisure and food: hotels, cafes and restaurants nearby

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

It is unknown when the church of St. Martha was originally built; it is often mentioned in the Acts of Pastoral Visits as the oratory of the Confraternity devoted to the Saint, who was widely worshipped locally. The façade, rebuilt in neo-Gothic style in 1885, based on a drawing by Menaggio architect Alessandro Bravi, it is characterized by a pleasant chromatic effect between the white of the plaster and the orange of the pilaster strips’ terracotta decoration, the strip under the gable roof and the arches above the portal; it is opened not just by the ogival arch portal (the lunette was painted by Antonio Sibella), but also by a large rose window with a surrounding cotto decoration. The single nave interior includes a chapel on the left, embellished by stuccos and frescoes, hosting on the altar the statue of the Immaculate Conception. On the pillars in front of the entrance, the figures of Saint Felix of Valois (on the left, with the deer) and of St. John de Matha (onthe right), who in the 12th century founded the Order of the Holy Trinity to set Christian slaves free, deserve a mention. The apsidal area is the result of the 1885 works, whilst keeping the beautiful 18th century wooden choir. The walls carry paintings of some interest: from the left, a Pietà with Saint Stephen and Saint Martha (1667), an 18th century copy of Correggio’s Adoration of the Magi, presumably with the portrait of the donor on the right, below; on the right, a 17th century painting of The Flogging and another painting of Saint Martha enthroned with Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Laurence – probably from the same period – signed by Alovisio Grosso. Next to the altar, four 17th century canvases with the Doctors of the Western Church have been placed.

The 18th century polychrome marble high altar hosts a precious Crucifix with a greatly venerated silver cross, so much so that the church of St. Martha is also known as the church of the Crucifix. Even nowadays the cross is taken in solemn procession on Good Friday, when the blessing of the lake takes place.

With reference to this Crucifix, the publication Novecento anni da Mengaldo (1095-1995), edited by the Parish, writes that in 1798 a gang of local brigands, led by a certain Capelli and the much feared “Carciocco” became aware that a group of Jacobines from Bellano were planning to steal it one of the following nights. «Therefore, on the night set for the “robbery”, the brigands waited in the vicinity of the church and ambushed the aspiring thieves, who in the meantime had managed to seize the Crucifix, by firing gunshots and dispersing them. The precious Crucifix, recovered by the brigands, was immediately returned to the Oratory among the jubilation of the people of Menaggio, and the brigands won the gratitude of the faithful and a reputation as… defenders of the church!»

Of some interest, at the entrance of the church, the Late Middle Ages marble stoup, with a column formed by the intertwine of four dolphins and a basin resembling a shell.

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Stage 2  – From the church of St. Stephen to the visit around the vestiges of the Castle

Church of St. StephenMenaggio CastleChurch of St. CharlesChurch of St. James at the Castle

Church of St. Stephen

Information

Location: the provostal church of St. Stephen is at an angle with via IV Novembre. There is no churchyard

Paving: via IV Novembre is asphalted

Architectural barriers: to access the church from the 3 doors on the front one must climb 5 low stone steps. In correspondence with the two protruding pilaster strips next to the main portal, and due to their protrusion, the steps are reduced to 2. There are two handrails on the wall next to the two secondary entrances

Access: the side entrances are usually open

Services: parking available in the area, automated teller machine

Leisure and food: hotels, cafes and restaurants nearby

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

The collegiate church of St. Stephen is of very ancient origin; according to tradition, pope Urban II, while travelling to Clermont Ferrand in France, where he launched the First Crusade, granted privileges to the church and personally appointed Menegaldo Castelli as Archpriest. It is likely that the original church, smaller than the existing one, was orientated in the opposite direction, towards the lake. At the beginning of the 17th century a new larger church was needed, the construction whereof lasted more than a century, with a truly magnificent outcome. The animated baroque façade hosts a niche at the centre with a statue of the patron Saint. The interior, with a nave and two aisles, was painted between 1836 and 1863 by the Sueglias and in 1899 by Luigi Tagliaferri from Pagnona; it has four chapels at the sides and two at the end of the aisles. On the right hand-side, starting from the entrance, one finds the chapels of Our Lady of Sorrow and St. Michael the Archangel (to whom a small oratory in Menaggio, now demolished, was dedicated), with a beautiful 17th century altarpiece with Saint Michael between saint Roch and Saint Sebastian. The chapel at the end of the right aisle and dedicated to the Sacred Heart, is embellished by stuccos attributed to the same group of painters who worked on the ones of the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary.

The presbytery is dominated by a bichrome marble altar, surmounted by a shrine; two large canvases with Eucharistic miracles hang on the walls, which are attributed to painter Castelli from Menaggio. The apsidal vault hosts a fresco with the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, by Luigi Tagliaferri.

The two chapels on the left-handside are dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua and St. Joseph, respectively. The splendid chapel at the end of the left aisle is dedicated to Our lady of the Rosary and is embellished by a rich stucco decoration and by frescoes depicting themes connected to the devotion to Mary. The niche with the statue of the Virgin is surrounded by fifteen 18th century oil painted copper medallions with the Mysteries of the Rosary. Under the niche, a photograph of the painting of the Madonna and Child with an angel (17th century) by Bernadino Luini is exposed. In the words of Maria Cristina Terzaghi in Guide della Provincia di Como – Alpi Lepontine Meridionali (Guides of the Province of Como – Southern Lepontine Alps) under the heading Menaggio: «The painting portrays the Virgin holding a book and an Iris flower; the Baby Jesus tries to climb on her lap, with the help of an angel; the background shows a magnificent landscape; the iconography represents a foreshadowing of the Passion, clearly symbolized by the flower, too».

The original painting adorned the chapel of the Calvi family in the previous collegiate church; when the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary was created in the new building, the people of Menaggio obtained by the Calvi the authorization to move the painting to its new location. At the end of the 17th century the work was sold to Count Carlo Firmian, against the transfer of the Magistrate’s Court from Tremezzo to Menaggio. At the Count’s death the painting was purchased at an auction by Marquis Arconati Visconti of Milan; in 1914 Maria Arconati Visconti donated it to the Louvre, where it still lies today.

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Menaggio Castle*

* building totally or partially in ruins

Information

Location: Menaggio Castle stood on the hill that juts out over the Sanagra stream, overlooking the back of the town

The proposed itinerary goes round the large area that presumably was occupied by Menaggio Castle; the information relevant to the accessibility of the single sections is available in the description of Stage 2

Services: a number of parking spaces are available in via Nazario Sauro

Leisure and food: cafes nearby

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

The strategic role of Menaggio was determined, in addition to its geographical location, by the presence of the Castle, which had an important part in controlling the surrounding territory, also due to the communication system with the other fortifications of the area (triangulations).

It remains unclear whether Menaggio already had a fortification in the proto-historic or Roman ages, as some local historians suggest. The first documented piece of news available is that on 24 February 934, Hugh of Provence, king of Italy, granted Gerardo Castelli and his successors the feud of Menaggio with its Castle, as a sign of gratitude for their many services to him. Federico Cereghini in the publication Novecento anni da Mengaldo (1095-1995), suggests that Gerardo Castelli probably had to rebuild the Castle, which was now in ruins. According to a local legend, mentioned by Ignazio Vigoni in Breve storia di Menaggio e dintorni (A brief history of Menaggio and its surroundings), the walls were reconstructed by using lime mortar mixed with wine instead of water, as an auspice to fiercely resist enemy assaults (which future events would unfortunately prove ineffective). Initially, the Castle was probably formed by four angular towers connected by walls, which were to be later extended to the lake, where two towers were built, and which were demolished in the 19th century.

After various attacks, sieges and fires, within the wider scenario of the age-old fights between Como and Milan (Menaggio was on Milan’s side), Guelphs and Ghibellines, in 1523 the Castle was set on fire and largely demolished by the Grisons, with the exception of part of the walls: the stones were used for the construction of new buildings and of the terracing that nowadays support vegetable gardens and gardens, but this part of the town of Menaggio continues to preserve the flavour and charm of the ancient fortress.

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Church of St. Charles

Information

Location: the church of St. Charles looks onto a churchyard of approx. 10 x 10 metres, which, in turn, looks onto via Castellino da Castello, at the top of the mound at the back of the lake

Paving: the churchyard has a gavel base, with a 3 metre wide cobbled strip

Architectural barriers: access to the churchyard is by four steps. Please note: at the beginning of the cobbled strip at the centre of the churchyard there are two stone posts, 60 cm high and 25 cm wide. Access to the church is by further 3 steps

Access: from the entrance on the façade

Services: a number of parking spaces are available in via Nazario Sauro

Leisure and food: cafes nearby

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

The church of St. Charles was built between 1612 and 1614 on the initiative of nobleman Cinzio Calvi on his own land, located near the ruins of the Castle: it is dedicated to the Milanese Saint, thirty years after the death of the Borromeo, and a mere four years after his canonization, possibly as a homage to the friendship that bound the Saint with another citizen of Menaggio, Castellino da Castello. Moreover, Calvi donated part of his wealth to the monastery of St. Mary of the Passion in Milan, owned by the Canons Regular of the Lateran, in order to compel them to serve the new church and make sure that eight of them took residence in the attached convent: four priests, a cleric, two lay brothers, and a servant. Regardless of their small number, for more than one hundred and fifty years the Canons lived in the adjacent house, serving not only the church, but the community as a whole: moreover, they had a well built near their cloister open to the inhabitants of the upper part of town, that until then had no access to water. On 5 September 1771 the parsonage was suppressed by emperor Joseph II; the church passed under the administration of the Vestry of the parish church of St. Stephen.

The simple façade in undressed stone, embellished by three terracotta brick strips and opened by a wide thermal window, looks onto the small secluded churchyard, squeezed between old buildings in undressed stone, among which, on the left, was the Canons’ house. The single nave interior has two side chapels. The one on the right hosts, above the altar, a canvas with The Pietà between Saints, by Giuseppe Vermiglio, a painter who worked for a long time for the canons of the monastery of St. Mary of the Passion in Milan. The chapel on the left is overlooked by a painting of Saint Firmus between Saint Apollonia and Saint Agatha, made, too, by Giuseppe Vermiglio; on the side wall a glass case holds the red mozzetta and zucchetto owned by Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari, a further link with the Milanese Diocese. The church walls carry other interesting 17th century canvases: on the left, the Death of Saint Joseph, and the Crucifixion with Saint Peter and Saint Andrew, signed by Giuseppe Antonio Castelli; on the right, The Healing of a possessed woman. The presbytery hosts a polychrome marble altar; at the back, in a niche, stands out a gypsum statue of Saint Charles.

On the floor, on the right in front of the altar, lies the sepulchral stone of the Calvi family, where Cinzio and his wives Caterina Camozzi and Marta Piperelli are buried.

A characteristic feature of the church of St. Charles is the elegant Spanish styled bell-gable.

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Church of St. James at the Castle*

* building totally or partially in ruins

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

On Castle hill, presumably on the north side, stood a church dedicated to Saint James, already mentioned in a document dated 1198, next to a Benedictine convent, on which we only have scarce and scattered information, mostly references in 13th century notarial deeds.

As far back as 1317, the Benedictines moved to Como, where, together with the nuns from the convent of St. Michael of Lompino (Mount Olimpino), they founded the convent of Saint Columbanus.

However, even after the convent was shut down, the church continued to be owned by the nuns of St. Columbanus and was served by a chaplain, who had the right to be called Abbot. A lengthy, seemingly endless period – in fact lasting a few centuries – of decadence followed, which Bishops unsuccessfully tried to halt by urging the nuns to care for the church more deservingly. In 1627, Bishop Carafino, further to the extreme deterioration of the building, officially decreed that the title and relevant benefit be transferred to the altar of St. Michael in the Collegiate of St. Stephen, authorizing the demolition of the altar and of the church itself.

However, nobody had the courage to demolish the church; on the contrary, following the Bishop’s decision, attempts were made to save the church by patching it up. Another 150 years passed, as the last document giving evidence that the church was still being served dates back to 1768. It has not been possible to reconstruct what happened in the years that followed, nor when or why the church was deconsecrated and demolished.

(Information drawn from Novecento anni da Mengaldo (1095-1995), Parrocchia di Santo Stefano, Menaggio 1995)

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Stage 3  – From via Strecioun to the jetty

The old Regina Road in MenaggioPonte Vecchio (The old bridge)Monument to the Weaver

The old Regina Road in Menaggio

Description

(Ambra Garancini)

The name Via Regina indicates the old route, which following the Western shore of Lake Como, in the Roman times linked Como, and, earlier still, the Milanese plain, with Valchiavenna, whereby, through its natural extension, the Via Francisca, it reached Chiavenna, the “starting base” for the mountain passes towards Rhaetia. Presumably it was created as a connection of the old existing paths to support/link local traffic, subordinately to the more important lake route. The name Regina “Road” (i.e. “strada regia”, main, public paved – strata – road) – which was given to it much later on – is documented for the first time in the year 1187. Together, the waterway, i.e. Lake Como, the way of sailors, soldiers and merchants, and the Via or Strada Regina used for local traffic, with parts suitable for vehicles, mule tracks, or pedestrian paths, for centuries constituted a true “Lake Como system”, an articulate network of routes pointing northwards, to the Alpine passes, and southwards, towards Milan, the hub for the Padana Valley, which had Como, the military and commercial centre better linked to Milan, as their barycentre, and the Western shore of Lake Como as their axis, due to the fact that it geographically converged on Como. In the course of centuries the so called Regina Road became increasingly important and during the whole of the Middle Ages it was kept by the lake village communities by virtues of specific Statutes. The road, however, continued to be subordinate to the lake, as the “difficult” morphology of Lake Como banks was an obstacle to its adequate widening. When, starting from the 16th century, the Milanese area passed under Spanish, and, later on, Austrian rule, caused the gradual shift of major traffic to the eastern shore of Lake Como, due to the need of faster connections between the Habsburg Empire and Milan. The “Lake Como system” of the Western shore, which had marked the history of Lake Como territories so deeply, lost its importance once and for all, passing on the baton to the Lecco-Colico axis. At present the old Regina Road is reconstructed and partially and can be partially travelled over, in some sections as the “Lake Como Greenway”. It touches some of the most beautiful landscapes of the lake and it awaits to be adequately enhanced as an important cultural itinerary at European level. It probably entered Menaggio from the South, following what is now via Como, and the first part of via Castellino da Castello, then it ran across via Strecioun (called via Ponte Vecchio on a municipal map of the beginning of the past century), passing under the Castle rock, to reach the old bridge at the end of the Sanagra gorge. From here, a rather steep ascent led to Loveno, from where, by the Ghidolda trail, it descended to Nobiallo.

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Iubilantes via G. Ferrari 2, Como; tel. 031.279684; e-mail: iubilantes@iubilantes.it

Ponte “Vecchio” (The “old” bridge)

Information

Location: the “Old” bridge connects the two shores of the Sanagra stream, right below the gorge north of the Castle

Paving: cobbles

Architectural barriers: none. At the entrance of the bridge, where asphalt turns to cobbles, please mind a grate for the drainage of water, next to a bump, which are perpendicular to the road. The bridge has a stone parapet on both sides, flanked by an iron railing, reaching a total height of 1.5 metres

Access: entrance is from via per Loveno

Services: -

Leisure and food: -

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

The bridge is nowadays known as the bridge “of Our Lady of Caravaggio” (after the nearby oratory); on a municipal map of the beginning of the past century the road leading to it was shown as “Via Ponte Vecchio”, possibly to indicate that it was the oldest bridge in Menaggio over the Sanagra stream.

The stone construction dates back to the 14th century and probably is the «bridge of Chollio» mentioned in the Medieval Statutes (1335), which describe the Regina Road maintenance sections. From here, looking to the left, it is possible to observe how the stream carved its bed into the rock, forming a deep gorge that must have acted as a fundamental protection for the north side of the Castle. On the left of the gorge, an old water intake structure, created to feed a mallet below, is still visible. Looking to your right, you will see a building owned by Venini Costruzioni Metalliche, a company which, since the first half of the past century, continues the Menaggio ironworking tradition, where you may notice some water outlet structures and a lock.

When crossing the cobbled bridge: about two thirds of the way, after 10 metres, you come to an aedicule on the left parapet decorated with a chipboard panel carrying a high relief by Enrico Vannuccini (1965), depicting Saint John Nepomucene, invoked to protect from the danger of drowning, which replaces a previous heavily damaged fresco. At the end of the bridge, on the right, stands the oratory (preceded by two steps, one to reach the landing, the other to enter), which Carlo Danieli and Rina Perego had had built in 1923 after having received a grace from Our Lady of Caravaggio. The square apse, which takes up almost half of the entire oratory area, hosts two dressed statues of Our Lady and the shepherd girl to whom she appeared, with a fresco on the background made by painter Roveda from Plesio. The lunette above the door carries a painting of an angel carrying a scroll with «Hail Mary» written on it.

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it

Monument to the Weaver

Location: the Monument to the Weaver is on via Benedetto Castelli’s promenade

Paving: the lake promenade is made of porphyry cubes

Architectural barriers: none

Access: the monument stands at the centre of an area of approx. 3.5 x 3.5 metres, with a concrete 40 cm high flared edge incorporating large-grained cobbles

Services: parking available in the area, automated teller machine, Town Hall

Leisure and food: hotels, cafes and restaurants nearby; sports facilities; private beach

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

The Monument to the Weaver on the lake promenade was created in 1990 by sculptor Francesco Somaini and commissioned by the Mantero family, owner of one of the larger silk factories of the area, on the shores of the Sanagra stream. The work is intended as a tribute to the workers, especially women, who helped make Como’s silk industry world-renowned: the Latin writing «Nobilis comensis terra textrinae artis laude» is carved in the marble. The monument consists of a 10 metre high white Carrara marble stele representing, at the top, the reverse image of a woman weaving behind the weft of the fabric, while at the bottom a series of drapes descend to the ground. The same motif, this time as a positive image, is repeated in the side bronze drapery that seems to “come out” from the hands of the marble weaver. At the base of the stele runs a bronze strip with the following writings on the four sides «Beppe Mantero wanted it / Mariola Mantero built it/ Francesco Somaini sculpted it 1982 – 1990».

Contacts

Ufficio Informazioni e Accoglienza Turistica di Menaggio (Menaggio Tourist Information Office) piazza Garibaldi 3; Tel. 0344.32924; e-mail infomenaggio@tiscali.it