Stage 2 – From the Provostship of S. Stefano to the Church of S. Francesco
We suggest you cross the precinct of the Provostship of S. Stefano parallel to the façade of the church, thus avoiding any difference in ground level when you leave by opening onto on the adjacent square, which is used as a parking area, and separated from the precinct by an iron chain supported by four small stone pillars, about 1 metre high. If you keep to your left, close to the corner of the church, you will find a clear passageway.
After walking for about 20 metres in the parking area, turn right and keep in line with the exit until you reach the imposing porticoed building which hosts the market, approx. 20 metres long and 7 metres wide. This occupies the eastern side of the church square (the left hand-side when facing the church), above a small rise. Designed in 1819 by architect Giuseppe Bovara in neoclassical style, it features six round arches (the seventh was demolished) and pediments with tympana and pilaster strips on the shorter sides. The building still preserves on its external walls the rings once used for the tethering of animals at the cattle fair, which was held on December 27th, the day after the feast of the patron saint, St. Stephen (Féra da San Stévénìn). It is here that nowadays the symbolic trial of the Giubiana is held, during the traditional feast which takes place on the last Thursday of January.
Turn right across the street (please be careful, as there is no zebra crossing) and take Via Risorgimento. A plaque inscribed «In questa casa nel 1857 nacque Filippo Turati grande maestro del socialismo italiano (In this house Filippo Turati, a great master of Italian socialism, was born in 1857)» was placed on the wall of the house at number 1 in 1947 by the then Italian Socialist Party. Follow Via Risorgimento for ten metres until you see, on your right, a fountain surmounted by a painting of Saint Miro’s Farewell to Canzo, by Walter Cremonini (1981). In this area stood the old portico, the Cuèrc (which gives its name to the quarter, the Cuntrada da Cuèrc), where the council of elders at the time of the Communes took place. According to tradition St. Miro said farewell to his people here before retiring to Upper Lake Como, after miraculously fulfilling the need of water in a period of drought. A memorial slab commemorates the event.
Cross Via Risorgimento and return to the house of Filippo Turati, continuing straight along Via Chiesa, which borders the car park and the longer side of the porch on the east. The road is paved with porphyry cubes and has a central strip made with slabs of the same material. Continue keeping to your right (compatibly with any cars parked in the first stretch); at number 44 a beautiful ghiandone granite portal with a mixtilinear arch leads to what, according to an oral tradition passed down in the family of Engineer Mario Pellizzone of Canzo, is identifiable as the home of Nicolò Pelliccione, legendary sixteenth century mercenary captain and ally of the Medeghino. Walk along the entire length and enter Via Teatro Vecchio, again paved in the same manner. The building at number 5, preceded by a widening of the path, is the former theatre of Canzo. Turn right in Via Mons. Giovanni Longoni, which winds its way through the courtyard houses of the old Quarter of Casarco (Cuntrada da Casarch); on the right, at number 4, is the entrance to the Curt dei Masciadri, where, on a wall, you can admire a splendid sixteenth-century fresco of Our Lady of Milk enthroned, flanked by Saint Miro, accompanied by the words «..SIO DIE 7 MADIE IOHANNES I». The courtyard is a private property; to arrange a visit, you may contact the Cumpagnia di Nost.
Approx. 70 metres after the Curt dei Masciadri, once again on the right, inside a niche you can see a cast iron fountain surmounted by an ancient plaque carrying a warning not to dirty the water.
After another 40 metres you come to a charming little square in the locality called Cipilöö da Casarch, where in 1998 the Cumpagnia di Nost created a fountain, called Spisareta, against the wall of a house and accompanied by the words «Funtana cuntenta ciciareta cui gent ca se ferma (Happy fountain that chats with the people who stop by it)». The pink granite basin carries a bas-relief of the Association’s coat of arms, with the outline of an oven for melting iron, called “beehive” because of its special structure. It is a homage to the ancient art of ironworking (in the 15th century Canzo was famous for the production of weapons and armoury, thanks to the powerful Missaglia family), traces of which have remained in many Canzo active in the manufacture of scissors and in the hot pressing of metals. On the sides of the fountain, two stone benches offer a place to rest; the wall to the left, made in undressed stone, still carries a trace of one of the entrances of the former old fortified centre of Canzo in medieval times, with monolithic serizzo stone lintel.
On the same square stands the chapel of Our Lady of Loreto, usually closed by an iron and glass door. Based on an octagonal plan, its entrance (preceded by two steps) is surmounted by a fresco of the Annunciation; inside, above the small altar, stands the painting of the Black Madonna of Loreto. Continue along Via Msgr. Longoni: after about 60 metres, on the left, at number 37, you can see an interesting example of a rural home, with two beautiful wooden balconies, while at number 39 stood the last stable of the village (in Curt del Giuliett), closed in 2008. After another 20 metres turn right and enter Via Torretta: the name of this narrow street remembers the old fortified medieval Canzo, which was presumably located in this area. At number 15 you can see what is thought to have been its imposing entrance, with two arches separated by thick walls in undressed stone; the first, on Via Torretta, has a monolithic lintel and jambs with carved capitals. After about 80 metres from the beginning of the street, turn left and enter Via Pretorio, which takes its name from the Praetorian Palace that once stood here, home to the magistrate’s office and the prisons of the “Corte di Casale”, an administrative jurisdiction established in the early 15th century, at the time of the Visconti family, which included the territories of Canzo (the administrative centre of the “Corte”), Caslino d’Erba, Castelmarte, Longone, Proserpio, Carella, Penzano and Mariaga. In 1472 the “Corte di Casale” was granted in fief by Galeazzo Maria Sforza to brothers Antonio and Damiano, called the Missaglias, armourers.
At the beginning of this street, on the wall to your left, you can see an aedicule with a painting of Our Lady of Caravaggio, while on the right, in a niche in the boundary wall of a property, there is a granite basin fountain made by the Firlafurla, a group of friends from the nearby Osteria del Merican, the oldest characteristic restaurant in Canzo. At the end of Via Pretorio turn left in Via Meda; after 70 metres you will meet on the right the monumental “Ghiandone” granite entrance of Villa Meda (also known as “Le Stelline”), flanked by two small stone pillars, approx. 40 centimetres high. The villa was designed by architect Simone Cantoni, who transformed a modest country house into the residence of Count Meda between 1795 and 1804. The building was later used in the 20th century as a summer camp for the Stelline in Milan (an orphanage for girls, the female equivalent of the Martinitt), and as barracks during the Second World War. It was recently restored and converted into private homes and public rooms, housing a number of Canzo’s Associations. Villa Meda with its courtyards is often used as a site for festivals and events, the most famous being the Biofera, organized during the second weekend of September by the Cumpagnia di Nost since 1987 (see Traditional feasts).
Entering from Via Meda, after about 2 metres cross a wrought iron gate, usually left half open, and walk along a paved porch that leads into the main courtyard, approx. 25 x 25 metres, paved with porphyry cubes.
Having crossed the courtyard you will find at the end, on the left, a paved chute, approximately 2.5 metres wide, with three central cobbled strips, which leads, after about 20 metres, beyond a porch, to another smaller internal courtyard, enclosed by a wrought-iron gate (usually left open during the opening hours of the Municipal Library). At the middle of this cobbled courtyard a monolithic tank was placed, recovered in the garden of what probably was an old monastery adjacent to the villa. One can still see the structure of its lemon orchard (limonaia), with its two sloping shoulders and some traces of the basement of the adjoining building, from the parking area over the Ravella stream. From the courtyard, after climbing five steps, you may access what was probably the chapel of the villa, left unfinished, and inappropriately called the Baptistery due to its circular plan; in the same courtyard, on the right, is the entrance to Canzo’s Municipal Library.
Walk back to the main courtyard, turn left, then go through the archway to reach the park of the villa, which still has, on the left, a two-niche nymphaeum, currently enclosed and not accessible due to its precarious condition. Cross the park along the porphyry cube pathway and past the charming bridge over the Ravella stream, with stone abutments about 1 metre high, bordered on both sides by decorative elements, once again made of stone (please mind the approx. 1 metre high iron barrier placed in the middle of the passage at the second bank to prevent the transit of vehicles). Cross the parking area that runs along the left bank of the Ravella; after about ten metres from the end of the bridge, taking a small deviation of about 20 metres on the right, you can reach a fountain lying against the villa’s old perimeter wall, on a low cobbled step of about 2 x 3 metres; the water from this fountain built in 1994 by the local Alpine Association comes from the Gajum spring, transported here by pipes. Its ghiandone granite basin, recovered from the bed of the Ravella stream, bears an eight-armed sun wheel on the front and the date 1640.
Retrace your footsteps and reach the end of the parking area on the porphyry paved stretch, beyond two decorative stone elements, approx. 3 metres high, in the shape of small pillars; then bend slightly to the left and exit from the 90 cm wide pedestrian access, protected by a small iron gate, which can be found in the ruins of the park’s old undressed stone perimeter wall (please pay attention to a small threshold). On the left of this access, a monumental arched aedicule, with side pillars and a bench underneath, carries a few traces of a fresco devoted to a profane subject.
Enter Piazza San Francesco, called Piazèta da San Mirett, paved with porphyry cubes and stone slab strips which are laid in a concentric circular pattern; the feast with the Greasy Pole is traditionally held here. Turning right, in an opening in the walls of Villa Meda, highlighted by a lintel and the two ghiandone granite abutments, there is another fountain. Opposite is a large round arch entrance to the Curt di Pinòla, of which you can still see the characteristic seventeenth-century wooden open gallery. Cross the square turning left and climb the 10 cobbled steps that lead to the large precinct (with paving that echoes the concentric circular pattern of the square) of the Church of S. Francesco, also known as Gésa da San Mirètt, named after the local saint, using the diminutive to distinguish it from San Mir (the Shrine). Initially dedicated to Our Lady, the church was part of a fourteenth-century Franciscan friary; it was restored and enlarged presumably in the first half of the eighteenth century. After the suppression of the friary, the adjacent building was used in the following two centuries first as a hospital, later as a retirement home, and then as a warehouse. At the end of the 70s of the last century restoration and conservative renovation works were started on the church and the annexed building, which today continues its spiritual function as a monastic Oasis, according to a decision by the Curia of the Archbishop of Milan.
Point of departure Canzo, Provostship Church of S. Stefano
Point of arrival Canzo, Church of S. Francesco
Path type urban route
Total length approx. 950 m
Travel time on foot 15 min
Rise 10 m
Maximum height 415 m
Paving asphalt, stone slabs, porphyry cubes
Public transport to the point of departure bus service (see bus company website)
Public transport from the point of arrival –
Parking at the point of departure yes
See the Gallery of this Stage: