On the banks of the Ravella. Mercenary captains, saints, artists and entrepreneurs

Stage 1 – From Canzo’s Trenord Railway Station to the Provostship of S. Stefano

Teatro Socialel

Teatro Sociale (Municipal Theatre)


Location: the Teatro Sociale (Municipal Theatre) of Canzo looks onto Via Volta, where the main entrance once was before being moved to Piazza Garibaldi for safety reasons.

Paving: Piazza Garibaldi and its pavement are asphalted; the path giving access to the theatre is made of concrete slabs.

Architectural barriers: in order to enter the path giving access to the Theatre one must use the pavement of Piazza Garibaldi. There is a small threshold just before the entrance.

Access: access to the Theatre is by the entrance on the right (when looking at the façade), protected by vaulted roof; it is preceded by a path, limited by a kerb on the left (and partially on the right), which leads from the pavement of Piazza Garibaldi. The Theatre remains closed, except for shows or other cultural events.

Services: free and paid parking available in the area; automated teller machines along Via Mazzini; Chemist in Via Mazzini; Municipal Police station in Canzo’s “LeNord” Railway Station square.

Leisure and food: bars and restaurants in the area; “Barni” public park in the immediate surroundings.


(Silvia Fasana)

The Teatro Sociale (Municipal Theatre) of Canzo is an elegant neoclassical building that overlooks Via Volta. The façade has two orders, surmounted by a tympanum with a strongly evident cornice in-between; the lower order is decorated with stone slabs that simulate a portico with three supporting arches, and has two side windows and a front door, flanked by two hanging lanterns. The composition of the building is quite harmonious in its simplicity, and was designed by the Milanese architect Gaetano Besia at the request of a group of people – either belonging to wealthy local families or holidaymakers from Milan – who founded the “Società del Teatro di Canzo” (Society for the Theatre of Canzo) in April 1828. Painter Orazio Tessa from Milan was called to fresco the interior, while the scenographer of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala took care of the stage design.

Just a year and a half later, on 18th October 1829, the theatre was inaugurated with the Italian version of Le faux Bonhomme (The false good-natured man) by Alexandre Duval, staged by the Compagnia dei Filodrammatici (Company of Amateur Actors) of Milan.

In the course of its long history, the theatre hosted performances of plays and operas, especially around the mid-nineteenth century; a few parties and charity events were held there, too. At the end of the century some of the theatre rooms were used for the School of Drawing and evening classes promoted by the Società Operaia di Mutuo Soccorso (Workers’ Mutual Aid Association) of Canzo.

In the thirties and forties of the twentieth century the building was also used for film screenings; when the war ended the property was transferred to the Municipality, which continued to use it as a cinema and occasionally as a theatre. In the mid-80s the building underwent complete restoration; since its second inauguration in 1990, the Theatre has presented notable music and prose seasons, and has become an important cultural landmark for the area.


Municipality of Canzo via Mazzini 28, Canzo; Tel. 031.674111

NonSoloTurismo Piazza Garibaldi 5, Canzo; Tel. 031.684563 – 331.9939726; e-mail info@nonsoloturismo.net

Read here to know more about the Teatro Sociale of Canzo:

Wikipedia – Teatro Sociale of Canzo

Municipality of Canzo website – Teatro Sociale

Palazzo Tentorio 

Palazzo Tentorio (Tentorio Palace)


Location: Palazzo Tentorio (Tentorio Palace) overlooks Via Mazzini, and its entrance is at number 28.

Paving: Via Mazzini is asphalted; the pavement on the side of the street is of porphyry flagstones, while the Palace hallway is made of stone flags.

Architectural barriers: to access Palazzo Tentorio one must cross a small stone-made chute-shaped threshold opening onto a hallway, the first portion of which is inclined slightly downwards and separated from the interior by a glass door.

Access: access is from the large monumental portal in via Mazzini.

Services: parking available in the area; automated teller machines along Via Mazzini; Chemist in Via Mazzini.

Leisure and food: bars and restaurants in the area.


(Silvia Fasana)

Palazzo Tentorio (Tentorio Palace) is an austere three-floor building, with an imposing rounded arch ashlar portal in its façade.

The ground floor of the palace is occupied by a large hallway, with a porch opening onto the square at the back; following the recent restoration, the first floor has come to host the offices of the Mayor and City Clerk and the Council Chamber. A large hall with exposed trusses takes up the second floor.

The name of the palace derives from the Tentorio family, who purchased it in 1706 from the Riboldis. The Tentorios had become a wealthy family through their flourishing woollen cloth trade; they left a significant trace of their presence in Canzo by generously contributing to the construction of the new Church of S. Stefano (St. Stephen), consecrated in 1752.

In 1828 the complex was transferred to the brothers Giovanni Maria, Benedetto and Venanzio Gavazzi, who in that period were active in the development of the silk industry; in 1836 the entire structure was acquired by Giovanni Battista Gavazzi, son of Giovanni Maria. Three years later, Giovanni Battista, too, distinguished himself for an initiative of great importance and public interest: the foundation of a Hospital next to the Church of S. Francesco (St. Francis).

Subsequently, the Palace was purchased in 1889 by the Municipality to host the school and, later, the Town Hall. In 1999 the building was renovated, and a new building – opened in 2002 – was added at the back.

The latter building, made in contemporary style undressed stone, and designed by architects “Studio Associato Ventura Architetti di Pizzighettone”, is composed of two distinct parts: the porch and the tower that, in the intention of the designers, can be considered as the founding elements of a “Broletto” «a term which defines the old Lombard communes’ Municipal Palace (also called “arengario”) and which derives from “brolo”, an enclosed garden with dry stone walls where in times past people gathered to make decisions affecting public life». The porch houses municipal offices and medical clinics; the assembly room is hosted in the upper part of the tower, outside of which stands a large clock.

Palazzo Tentorio and the new building are separated by a small square.


Municipality of Canzo via Mazzini 28, Canzo; Tel. 031.674111

NonSoloTurismo Piazza Garibaldi 5, Canzo; Tel. 031.684563 – 331.9939726; e-mail info@nonsoloturismo.net

Read here to know more about Palazzo Tentorio:

Municipality of Canzo website – Palazzo Tentorio

Cheisa di S. Stefano

Church of S. Stefano (St. Stephen)


Location: the Provostship Church of S. Stefano (St. Stephen) overlooks a large precinct opening onto Via della Chiesa.

Paving: the precinct is paved with stone slabs: at the centre, in front of the Church’s main entrance, there are nine white marble slabs engraved with the coat of arms of Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster, Archbishop of Milan from 1929 to 1954 and beatified on 12 may 1996 by Pope John Paul II.

Architectural barriers: there are three alternative ways of access to the precinct, which is limited on the east and south sides by a gneiss balustrade. From the west (the route suggested by our path) one has to climb 10 stone steps, as opposed to the 7 steps needed from the south; the east side connects at ground level with the adjacent square, which hosts a parking area, separated from the precinct by four small stone pillars – approx. 1 metre high – holding an iron chain, which however leaves some free space near the edge of the Church. To access the sacred building one has to climb another 3 steps.

Access: the side entrances are usually open.

Services: a large parking area is available in the immediate surroundings; automated teller machines along Via Mazzini; Chemist in Via Mazzini.

Leisure and food: bars and restaurants in the area.


(Silvia Fasana)

The provostship church of S. Stefano (known in the local dialect as Gésa granda, i.e. the big Church) owes its current appearance to a radical reshaping and restructuring, carried out between 1728 and 1752, of an existing building, already referred to in the 13th century as being dependent from the Pieve of Incino.

Legend has it that the area currently occupied by the main Church was originally a vineyard owned by the Pelliccione family. After great insistence, they donated the vineyard to the parish, subject to the binding condition that all vine plants were to be uprooted on the same night. Thus, after a night of feverish work carried out by the entire population, all plants were pulled up and construction was started.

In 1819 the bell tower was added, although the project by architect Giuseppe Bovara originally included a second belfry, too.

The eighteenth-century two-order façade, in Lombard Baroque style, marked by pilaster strips, shows a pleasant alternation of concave and convex. The impressive main entrance, surrounded by columns and surmounted by a curved tympanum, is flanked by the two minor entrances, each with its own triangular tympanum pediment. In 1907 the statues of St. Stephen and the Blessed Miro, placed inside richly decorated niches, were added to the façade.

The interior features a single nave and four side chapels, and is a true feast of marbles, stuccoes and gilding.

When entering the Church, the first chapel on the right hosts a much venerated 16th century wooden crucifix, already admired by St. Carlo Borromeo during his pastoral visit; the second chapel houses a statue of St. Anthony the Abbot, by Elia Vincenzo Buzzi (1767). The first chapel to the left of the entrance is dedicated to St. Bernard, while the second to Our Lady of the Rosary, with statues, once again the work of Buzzi (1761). All chapels contain rich and elaborate marble altars.

Above confessionals constructed in marble and wood against the walls of the nave, in-between the chapels, stands the pipe organ, the work of the famous Serassi Brothers (1828), restored by Natale Balbiani from Milan at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The presbytery, which has a polygonal apse, is dominated by the temple shaped main altar, characterized by an interesting altar frontal made in scagliola stone.

The presbytery vault is decorated with eighteenth-century frescoes depicting the Trinity, the Glory of St. Stephen, and, in the webs, the Four Evangelists; most of the frescoes which embellish the vault of the nave and the side chapels’ walls are the work of painter Mario Albertella, director of the School of Professional Milanese Christian Art, who completed them around 1925.

To the left of the altar, a chapel holds numerous relics bequeathed by Msgr. Camillo Fino, provost of Canzo and formerly Notary responsible for the authentication of relics in the Diocese of Milan.


Parish of Canzo via Alla Chiesa 56; Tel. 031.68132

Read here to know more about the provostship church of S. Stefano:

Wikipedia – Church of S. Stefano

Website of the Unified Information System for Archival Superintendence – Parish of S. Stefano in Canzo

Municipality of Canzo website – Church of S. Stefano

Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community website – Provostship Basilica of S. Stefano Protomartire 

Stage 2 – From the Provostship of S. Stefano to the Church of S. Francesco

Biofera 2014 

Traditional feasts


(Silvia Fasana)

The Giubiana

The Giubiana is a traditional feast quite popular in Piedmont and Lombardy, especially in Brianza and in the Varese area, which consists in putting to trial and send to the stake the puppet of an old lady (i.e. the Giubiana), which symbolizes the evils of winter and the year that has passed: it is therefore to be interpreted as a propitiatory rite.

The feast takes place on the last Thursday of January.

In Canzo this celebration is particularly complex: its key moments are the trial of the Giubiana in the public square, strictly spoken in local dialect, which ends with the judgment by the Regiuu (the town elders), followed by the bonfire and the traditional dinner consisting of risotto and sausage (lügànega) accompanied by mulled wine (vin brülé). The event also involves other figures who play other symbolic and traditional characters.

Feast of the Sun – Feast of Òman

The Feast of Midsummer Sun, celebrated on the Sunday nearest to August 2nd, has been made to coincide with the traditional Festa di Òman (Feast of Òman), now lost, which exalted masculinity linked to images of strength and fertility typical of the sun. The whole day, organized by the local Cumpagnia di Nost association in conjunction with ERSAF (Regional Agency for Services to Agriculture and Forestry) and Legambiente (an environmental association), is characterized by cultural events and games: participants walk uphill in procession from  Gajum to Prim’Alpe to play games of strength (da fòrza) and ability (da malizia), taste typical local dishes (the disnà), enjoy folk music and characteristic rites, such as the sound of the shepherd’s horn, the s’ciupetada, and the reading of the Ode to the Rè di Alp (King of the Alp), an homage to this symbolic figure who looks after nature and its rhythms.


On the second weekend of September the courtyards and rooms of Villa Meda host the Biofera, a fair and market where more than a hundred small farmers and craftsmen, carefully selected from all over Italy, present their products related to organic farming and alternative medicine remedies. The fair also includes cultural and recreational activities such as conferences on the relationship between man and nature and the rediscovery of traditional knowledge, dance, theatre performances, concerts, workshops, tasting, demonstrations, children’s games and competitions related to the Celtic tradition.

Biofera is one of Italy’s most important fairs on organic products and culture, together with Fierucola in Florence and Bioest in Trieste.


In addition to the presence of wandering musicians playing local bagpipes (piva and baghèt) and fifes, and the distribution of yule logs, other initiatives help to create a Christmas atmosphere, such as Christmas Eve banquets based on tripe in minestrone (büsechìn da la vigilia) organized by a number of associations (Alpines, Cumpagnia di Nost, Senior Center), and the Christmas Mass at dawn (Mèsa Prima, i.e the First Mass), with the reading of the Gospel in Canzo’s own dialect.

Patron Saint’s Feast and Fair

On Saint Stephen’s Day (26th December) a solemn procession is held and a white ball hanging from the ceiling of the church at the main Mass starting at 10.30 is burned. Via Rimembranze and Piazzale Giovanni XXIII are the locations of Saint Stephen’s fair, which has always attracted visitors from all over Brianza.

Freely adapted from Wikipedia – Canzo page, and publications by the Cumpagnia di Nost


Cumpagnia di Nost e-mail biofera@alice.it

Read here to know more about the traditional feasts of Canzo:

Wikipedia – Canzo

Read here to know more about the Biofera:

Biofera website

Villa Meda

Villa Meda


Location: the complex of Villa Meda spreads along both banks of the Ravella stream.

Paving: the strip under the porch immediately after the main entrance is paved in stone for approx. 8 metres; the inner courtyard is paved with porphyry cubes. The park walkways are mainly gravel but the parking space on the left bank of the Ravella is asphalted. However, the pathway indicated in our itinerary is made of porphyry cubes.

Architectural barriers: information on accessibility is available in the description of Stage 2.

Access: the monumental entrance of the villa overlooks Via Meda; Piazza San Francesco and Via Gajum offer secondary accesses opened into the old perimeter wall of the property which lead to the parking area.

Services: part of the park has been turned into a large parking area, with access from Via Gajum.

Leisure and food: bars and restaurants in the area.


(Silvia Fasana)

The neoclassical style villa was designed by architect Simone Cantoni, who transformed a country house into the residence of the Meda family between 1795 and 1804. A folder with Cantoni’s original drawings is kept at Canton Ticino’s historical archives in Bellinzona (CH): the designs show different architectural solutions, both for the internal structure of the building, and the garden and outdoor appurtenances. It is a composite plan complex, built around a main courtyard with an arched portico supported by square pillars at the side of the entrance. The rooms inside the villa contain frescoes and eighteenth-century coffered wooden ceilings decorated by Luca Roscio from Vill’Albese. From another smaller courtyard (see the description of Stage 2) one can visit what was probably the chapel of the villa, left unfinished, and inappropriately called the Baptistery due to its circular plan, with a central stone colonnade and octagonal wooden vault. Beyond the main courtyard, on the right bank of the Ravella stream, was the park (which is believed to have been planned as an Italian garden, with a refined two-niche nymphaeum), linked to the other bank by means of a picturesque stone bridge. The perimeter wall of the property, in undressed stone, was embellished with turrets and aediculae. 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. In 1983, the Municipality of Canzo bought the complex from Stelline; after a long period of restoration, it was converted into private homes and public rooms, housing a number of Canzo’s Associations and the Public Library.


Municipality of Canzo via Mazzini 28, Canzo; Tel. 031.674111

NonSoloTurismo Piazza Garibaldi 5, Canzo; Tel. 031.684563; 331.9939726; e-mail info@nonsoloturismo.net

Library Villa Meda, Canzo; Tel. 031.683119

Read here to know more about Villa Meda:

Municipality of Canzo website – Villa Meda

Chiesa di S. Francesco 

Church of S. Francesco (St. Francis)


Location: the Church of S. Francesco looks onto a large precinct next to the square, Piazza San Francesco.

Paving: Piazza San Francesco and the precinct are paved with porphyry cubes and stone slab strips which are laid in a concentric circular pattern, according to the plan of arch. Pini from Canzo. Two granite slabs have been placed in the area outside the Church entrance, engraved with the shapes of the Dove and Noah’s Ark. The 10 steps which separate the precinct from the square are cobbled. The Church interior is paved with terracotta tiles.

Architectural barriers: there are two ways of getting to the precinct, which is closed on the left hand-side (when facing the Church) by a small stone wall. From the bottom of the square (as suggested by our itinerary) one has to climb 10 cobbled steps; from the side at a tangent to Via Gajum you can enter from an opening in the wall. To reach the Church one has to climb two steps.

Access: the portal on the façade leads to an inner door opening outwards, allowing access to the inside of the Church.

Services: the large Villa Meda parking is available in the immediate surroundings.

Leisure and food: –


(Silvia Fasana)

The Church of S. Francesco (St. Francis) is also known as Gésa da San Mirètt, named after the local Saint, using the diminutive to distinguish it from San Mir (the Shrine); it was part of a fourteenth-century Franciscan monastery. Initially dedicated to Our Lady, it changed its dedication in favour of St. Miro in a period prior to 1493; it was restored and enlarged presumably in the first half of the eighteenth century. The end of the 18th century marked the end of the presence of the Friars Minor in the adjacent convent. «In 1839 at the bequest of the Provost Don Angelo Sala and with the substantial contribution of Giovan Battista Gavazzi, the friary was transformed into a Civil Hospital to become, after the Great War, a retirement home for the elderly, a function which it held until 1979. Meanwhile, the Church changed its name to S. Francesco» (source: http://www.comune.canzo.co.it/), although the population still remembers it as dedicated to “fellow villager” St. Miro. 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 Archbishop of Milan’s Curia.

The ochre-washed eighteenth-century façade is opened by a simple stone portal with a tympanum carrying the Franciscan coat of arms, and a shaped window which interrupts the cornice, supported by four pilasters.

The single nave interior, with original terracotta flooring, has four side chapels with marble balustrades and interesting scagliola stone frontals, two of which carry the signature of Intelvi Valley artist Giovanni Battista Rapa and the date 1740. As you enter, on the right, there is a chapel dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, followed by the Crucifix chapel, which in a side niche houses a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows with its processional canopy. On the left of the entrance you meet the chapel of St. Miro (with a statue donated by Marquis Tentorio), in Baroque style, followed by that of Our Lady Immaculate. The polygonal apse is dominated by a painting of the Crucified Christ with Saints, with two stained glass windows depicting St. Francis and St. Miro oneither side; on the side walls of the presbytery there are two valuable seventeenth century paintings with the Transitus of St. Anthony of Padua and the Miracle of the reattached foot.

Worthy of note are two eighteenth-century frescoes on the ceiling of the nave with The dream of St. Francis and the Glory of St. Francis and St. Miro.

The choir gallery is on the counter-facade complete with the organ placed there in 1822.


Monastic Oasis Piazza S. Francesco, Canzo; Tel. 031.683952

Read here to know more about the Church of S. Francesco:

Municipality of Canzo website – Church of S. Francesco

Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community – Church of S. Francesco and Beato Miro

Stage 3 – From the Church of S. Francesco to Gajum

Cappella di S. Michele

Chapel of S. Michele (St. Michael)


Location: the Chapel of S. Michele (St. Michael) overlooks a small clearing outside the built-up area of Canzo, at the upper end of Via Gajum, on the left hand-side of the Ravella Valley.

Paving: the clearing outside the chapel is covered by grass and gravel; the base on which it is built is cobbled.

Architectural barriers: access to the clearing is by the footpath after climbing one step; the Chapel is built on a large step; to access the inside of the Chapel (which, however, is usually closed) one has to climb another step.

Access: access to the clearing with the Chapel is by a trail starting from the right hand-side of Via Gajum, following the signal of footpath no. 3 leading to the Cornizzolo. The clearing is surrounded by a small wall, interrupted by two openings to allow people to pass through.

Services: parking available in Gajum and Villa Meda.

Leisure and food: bar-restaurant-hotel in Gajum.


(Silvia Fasana)

The Chapel of S. Michele (St. Michael) stands on a wide step as its base in a small clearing shaded by three (originally four) large linden trees. Built according to a hexagonal plan and topped by a small bell gable, it has four windows and a front door, protected by a wrought iron gate, which is generally closed. The lunette on the entrance carries the Latin inscription «Hostem repellet impium opemque Pacis dirigat (Fight off the wicked enemy [the devil] and build a work of peace)». Inside, above the altar, hangs a painting of St. Michael the Archangel, holding a sword and scales – its iconographic attributes – in the act of crushing the devil, dominated by the invocation «Sancte Michael ora pro nobis (Saint Michael pray for us)» and, along the sides, the depiction of the Corporal works of Mercy. In 1928 the building underwent renovation funded by the Bonalumi Mosca family, owner of the adjacent property. Further consolidation and restoration works were carried out by the parish community in the last years of the last century. The place where the chapel stands is called the Lazzaretto, because it was used as a hospice during the cholera epidemic of 1863 (during which the then parish priest, Father Giacomo Minetti, distinguished himself for his dedication and generosity) and perhaps also during previous outbreaks of the infection.


Parish of Canzo via Alla Chiesa 56; Tel. 031.68132

Read here to know more about the chapel of S. Michele:

Municipality of Canzo website – Chapel of S. Michele (Lazzaretto)

Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community website – Chapel of S. Michele

Val Ravella

The Ravella Valley


(Silvia Fasana)

The Ravella Valley owes its name to the stream that rises at an altitude of about 1,000 meters just below the highest point of the valley, the Colma di Val Ravella; after carving its own bed deep into the rocks, the stream flows embanked between steep slopes down to Canzo, before emptying into the river Lambro. The upper part of its drainage basin is limited to the north by the Cresta di Cranno mountain ridge and the Colletta di Corni and Corni di Canzo (Canzo’s Horns) mountains, to the east by Sasso Malascarpa and Prasanto, and to the south by mounts Rai, Cornizzolo and Pesora.

The Ravella Valley is dominated by the Cèpp da l’Angua, a large rocky subvertical outcrop consisting of Conchodon Dolomite. Its peculiar name may refer to the Anguana, a water nymph in Alpine mythology (known as Gana in Ladin culture); in the Middle Ages this cult was probably not assimilated into Christianity, but demonized, which would justify the second name of this rock in local dialect: Scalfìn dal Diaul, where scalfin stands for stocking sole – which it resembles – and diaul for devil.

The entire Canzo’s Horns – Ravella Valley area is of great naturalistic interest. One part falls under the “Foresta di Lombardia dei Corni di Canzo” (Canzo’s Horns Lombardy Forest), a vast mainly woodland complex which covers about 450 hectares, characterized by hop hornbeams, ash trees, sycamores, and, at higher altitudes, beeches, run by ERSAF (Regional Agency for Services to Agriculture and Forestry). The upper portions of the slopes, once used as pasture and now abandoned, were colonized mainly by a sparse hazelnut wood, accompanied by birches, goat willows and golden chain trees, with their elegant yellow raceme inflorescence. A portion of the left side of the valley’s drainage basin is included in the Sasso Malascarpa (Mascarpa) Nature Reserve, a Lombardy Region protected area of great geological and botanical interest. The landscape here is shaped by the slow and relentless dissolution exerted by rainwater on limestone rock, which led to the characteristic appearance of the Sasso (similar to a gigantic rocky wall) and the spectacular karst manifestations of furrowed fields, narrow and deep crevices, similar to the marks left on the ground by the wheels of a wagon. In the Canzo’s Horns and Sasso Malascarpa area grows a particular kind of flora which includes precious plants typical of the craggy environment of the pre-alpine lakes’ Insubric strip, such as the Campanula raineri, the yellow oxeye, the Insubric garlic and the Physoplexys comosa.

The Ravella Valley also holds evidence of human presence across the centuries. Until the first half of the twentieth century, many families active in farming and breeding of livestock were still living in the valley. Traces of these traditional activities have remained in rural buildings in Prim’Alpe (called Alpe Grasso, i.e. Fat Alp, for the abundance of forage) and Terz’Alpe (Alpe Piotti), and in the ruins that can still be seen in the Second’Alpe area (Alpe Betulli or Alpe del Sole, i.e. Alp of the Sun, due to its great sunlight exposure), Alpe Alto and Alpetto (the latter two on the slope of Mount Cornizzolo).

At the end of the 50s of the last century, at Prim’Alpe, further to the acquisition by the Azienda di Stato per le Foreste Demaniali – ASFD (State-Owned Forests Agency), a nursery was created to produce essences (especially conifers) needed for the reforestation of former pastures and old agricultural terraces in the vicinity of the “Alps”. The ownership was then transferred in 1980 to the Lombardy Region, which nowadays runs it through the ERSAF. At present in the old nucleus of Prim’Alpe a Reserve Visitor Centre and a Centre for Environmental Education, active all-year round and managed by Legambiente, have been set up, and where it is also possible to buy refreshments and find accommodation.

Moreover, the Ravella Valley is the starting point for many footpaths and trails around the Canzo’s Horns – Prasanto – Moregallo massif.


ERSAF Corso Promessi Sposi 132, Lecco; Tel. 02.67404451; e-mail lecco@ersaf.lombardia.it

Read here to know more about the Ravella Valley and its footpaths and trails

ERSAF website – Canzo’s Horns Lombardy Forest

Municipality of Canzo website – Hiking trails in the area of Canzo

For GIS cartography

Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community – GIS cartography

To download the contents of the booklets on the sites of naturalist interest of the Triangolo Lariano Un Triangolo da scoprire, by Silvia Fasana, published by the Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community (including those connected to our itinerary, i.e. Canzo’s Horns and the Ravella Valley, Sasso Malascarpa, Mount Cornizzolo)

Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community – Booklets

Stage 4 – From Gajum to the Strine of S. Miro along the first section of the “Giorgio Achermann” Geological Trail and return to Gajum

Sentiero Geologico Giorgio Achermann

“Giorgio Achermann” Geological Trail


Location: the “Giorgio Achermann” Geological Trail runs along the Ravella stream from Gajum to Terz’Alpe.

Paving: the first section of the trail, up to the bridge under the Shrine of San Miro al monte, is cobbled, subsequently turning into a dirt track.

Architectural barriers: information on accessibility of the first section, i.e. the part of the trail included in our itinerary, is available in the description of Stage 4.

Access: the Geological Trail starts at Gajum.

Services: parking available in the area, excluding on Sundays and public holidays during the summer season, when via Gajum is closed to the traffic and car park access is not possible.

Leisure and food: bar-restaurant-hotel in Gajum. The Gajum area is equipped with benches and stone tables for anyone wishing a break.


(Silvia Fasana)

This is a journey in the geological history of our territory, amidst the green coloured woods and meadows, at the heart of the so-called Triangolo Lariano (a triangle-shaped area between the two branches of Lake Como). We are talking of the Ravella Valley Geological Trail in Canzo, one of the first and most popular themed walking trails of the Prealps, set up in the early 80s of the last century by the Gruppo Naturalistico della Brianza (Brianza Naturalist Society) to acquaint people with some of the most interesting geological aspects of the area. The track was subject to extraordinary maintenance in 2003, with the installation of new and extremely detailed information panels by the ERSAF (Regional Agency for Services to Agriculture and Forestry) section of Erba, in collaboration with the Municipality of Canzo, the Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community, the Provincial Authority of Como and the Brianza Naturalist Society. On this occasion, the trail has been dedicated to its creator, Swiss journalist George Achermann, the late founder of the historic local environmental organization, to remember his great work to raise awareness towards the protection of nature “in our own home”.

The Geological Trail begins in Gajum, develops along the bottom of the Ravella stream valley and ends at the Terz’Alpe Hut, amidst meadows and pastures, at the foot of Canzo’s Horns. The first part of the route follows an old mule-track, the surface of which was originally made with pebbles from the stream bed; this type of paving is called risciòl in local dialect. The second part is a dirt track, nonetheless quite easy to walk upon.

The hiker is accompanied along the way by a series of panels introduced by a cute cartoon character, a mouse by the name of Geofilo Chiacchierino (which can be roughly translated as Geophile Chatty), who illustrates the 14 most interesting “geological events”, making the visit more enjoyable to children.

In an hour and a half’s walk one can imagine to retrace the entire geological history of local territory. You can see the stratified limestone rocks of marine origin, typical of the Triangolo Lariano, deposited on the bottom of an ancient ocean called Tethys, which occupied this area during the Mesozoic Era (250 million to 65 million years ago) (Event no. 6 – Marine sedimentary rocks, Event no. 2 – Submarine landslide and “slump”, Event no. 4 – Majolica, Event no. 7 – Flints). “Mementos” of this expanse of water and its inhabitants can also be found in the numerous fossils present in the sedimentary rocks of our mountains, such as the remains of Coral colonies and Ammonites, Molluscs with planespiral shells (Event no.1 – Coral limestone, Event no. 8 – Lombard Red Ammonitic Limestone). Ultimately this ancient sea was closed off, due to the collision between the European and African continents and the subsequent formation of the Alps, culminating in the Cenozoic Era (65 to 1.8 million years ago). The rocks of the seabed thus emerged from the water, suffering intense folding, thrust faults, fractures that have disrupted the original layout. In more recent geologic times, i.e. the Quaternary Era (1.8 million years ago to the present day), due to the extension of climate changes, the area has been repeatedly affected by the expansion of large glacial flows coming from the Valtellina and its lateral valleys; these have shaped the land with intense erosion processes, and, as they drew back, have left piles of rocky debris. Individual isolated blocks of considerable size, transported and deposited by glaciers, are called “erratics” or “boulders”. They are made of rocks usually very different from those upon which they rest, such as serpentinite (Event no. 11 – Serpentinite), granite and gneiss (Event no. 10 – “Ghiandone” Granodiorite), and are particularly common in the Ravella Valley area.

Along the trail there is also a “petrifying spring” (Event no. 12 – Petrifying springs), or, rather, a “petrifying waterfall”, an interesting humid environment where the deposition of mineral salts dissolved in water (particularly calcium carbonates and magnesium) takes place in the shape of concretions that can incorporate moss, leaves, twigs and herbs. The result being the spongy-looking and ivory-hazel coloured “calcareous tufa”. Petrifying springs are very rare and precious habitats from the naturalist point of view, so much so that in 1992 they were included in the European Union’s “Habitat Directive”. Another peculiar visible geomorphological sign is the “Pot of Giants” (Event no. 14 – “Pot of Giants”) a large cavity excavated into the rocks of the Ravella stream bed by the swirling rotary motion of sand and gravel transported by water.


Gruppo Naturalistico della Brianza e-mail gnbca@tiscalinet.it

ERSAF Corso Promessi Sposi 132, Lecco; Tel. 02.67404451; e-mail e-mail lecco@ersaf.lombardia.it

Read here to know more about the “Giorgio Achermann” Geological Trail:

Gruppo Naturalistico della Brianza website, with a downloadable pdf version dof the booklet by Silvia Fasana, La pietra e l’acqua. Il Sentiero Geologico “Giorgio Achermann” in Val Ravella, published ERSAF, Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community, Municipality of Canzo, Gruppo Naturalistico della Brianza.

Read here to know more about Giorgio Achermann:

Wikipedia – Giorgio Achermann

Read here to know more about Gruppo Naturalistico della Brianza:

Gruppo Naturalistico della Brianza website

Santuario di San Miro al Monte

The Shrine of S. Miro al Monte


Location: the Shrine of S. Miro al Monte stands upon a square of approx. 20 metres x 15 on the left side of the Ravella Valley.

Paving: the part outside the Shrine is gravelled; the entrance path, the area under the porch and the parts of the square on the side of the building are paved. [The interior of the Shrine is paved with tiles.]

Architectural barriers: information on accessibility is available in the description of Stage 4.

Access: access to the Shrine is by the portal located in correspondence of the central arch of the porch, the only one which opens entirely onto the ground. To enter one must cross a small raised threshold.

Services: –

Leisure and food: –


(Silvia Fasana)

The Shrine of S. Miro al Monte is a small stone building, with a simple gable façade preceded by a recently rebuilt portico with three arches. There is a head and shoulders figure of St. Miro with his arms open in the lunette of the entrance portal, accompanied by the words «And you shall have water», in remembrance of the last words he said in Canzo before leaving for Upper Lake Como, where he died. The interior is simple and secluded: on the main altar stands a seventeenth century altarpiece depicting the Madonna and Child with St. Miro (left) and St. Roch (right), surrounded by a rich stucco decoration with caryatids at the sides. The walls are frescoed with great Scenes from the life of St. Miro, painted by the artist Albertazzi in the 50s of the last century.

The Shrine was built starting in 1643 on the site where tradition has it that the hermitage of St. Miro Paredi once stood. The building, funded by donations of local devotees of the Saint, could be completed only in 1660. Beside the church you can see a small two-storey building, home to a number of monks probably connected to the nearby monastery of S. Francesco, until it was suppressed at the end of the eighteenth century. The monks cultivated medicinal plants on small mounds, which are still visible, made with dry stone walls on the opposite side of the Ravella stream (“Giardin di Fraà”, i.e. “The Garden of the Brothers”). From the second half of the 19th century the structure was left in a state of disrepair; in the following century restoration and conservative adaptation works were carried out on a number of occasions.


Monastic Oasis Piazza S. Francesco, Canzo; Tel. 031.683952

Read here to know more about the Shrine of S. Miro al Monte:

Municipality of Canzo website – Ermitage of S. Miro al monte

Triangolo Lariano Mountain Community website – Ermitage – Shrine of S. Miro

San Miro Paredi

Saint Miro Paredi


(Silvia Fasana)

San Miro is a well-known figure in the Triangolo Lariano and in Upper Lake Como, and combines historical elements with others undoubtedly created by legend. The most comprehensive information on his life can be found in the biography published in Milan in 1723 by Somascan Father Giuseppe Maria Stampa, who came from Gravedona, which incorporates even older sources.

Popular tradition has it that Miro Paredi was born in Second’Alpe in 1336 (although recent historical studies are more inclined to place his birth date in the 13th century) to elderly parents, Erasmus and Drusiana, the latter from Prata Camportaccio. His name, Immiro or Miro, would in fact mean “born in a wonderful way”, given the age of his parents. On the place of his birth, in 1986 the Canzo Association of Hunters created a chapel dedicated to his memory. Left motherless at an early age, his father, before he died, asked a hermit who lived in Scarenna to take care of Miro, who remained with him for about twenty years. At the death of his master, Miro retired in the Ravella Valley, where he took up residence in a cave under the Cèpp da l’Angua. He lived some years in meditation and prayer, feeding on herbs, roots, wild fruits and the alms of the many pilgrims who went up to him for advice. If need be, he went down to Canzo to bless the sick, assist the dying and settle any quarrels.

He then went on pilgrimage to Rome along the Via Francigena, to venerate the tombs of the martyrs. Biographers narrate that during the stops along the way he took interest in the people he met, soothing their sorrows and offering valuable spiritual advice. Having run into three poor orphans, he is said to have taken them with him to Rome to find suitable accommodation. On the way back he was hosted in S. Giorgio di Lomellina (PV) by the large family of a poor peasant; having learned of the terrible drought that plagued the country, Miro led the people in prayer and acts of penance, until shortly after came the long-awaited rain.

Back in Canzo, he returned to his life as a hermit: his reputation for holiness soon spread throughout the Triangolo Lariano. Old age and the premonition of impending death prompted him to look elsewhere for a place to spend his last days in peace. He therefore decided to go and see the places of origin of his mother in Upper Lake Como. Before leaving his native village, he wanted to greet his fellow villagers gathered under a porch (which no longer exists) called the Cuerc and asked them what they wanted as a gift. «Water», said a child in his mother’s arms, and he replied with the famous words: «And you shall have water!».

He is said to have walked down to Onno, and that, at the ferryman’s refusal to carry him out of charity, he spread his cloak upon the water of the lake and miraculously arrived in Mandello. He would have then continued his journey to Sorico, retiring as a hermit near the old church of S. Michele, where he died shortly after. As established in 1456 by bishop Pusterla of Como, his feast is celebrated on the second Friday of May.

Saint Miro was invoked for rain and against floods, plague, and deaths in childbirth. Many are the miracles attributed to him: according to local tradition he would also have made water flow out of the rock at the base of the cave which he used as a shelter, near the Shrine later erected in his honour.

This wellspring is considered sacred by the people of Canzo, and its water was used to cure diseases.

He is traditionally depicted dressed as a pilgrim, with a stick and a water bottle.


Monastic Oasis Piazza S. Francesco, Canzo; Tel. 031.683952

Read here to know more about Saint Miro of Canzo:

Wikipedia – Saint Miro of Canzo

Stage 5 – From Gajum to the Canzo – Asso Trenord Railway Station

Villa Rizzoli

Villa Rizzoli


This point of interest is not located along the itinerary but can be admired from a panoramic point in Via Torre.


Villa Rizzoli, formerly Magni, was built between 1903 and 1906 by Turin architect Pietro Fenoglio on a hill by the name of Grimello in the outskirts of the village for Canzo entrepreneur Magno Magni, one of the pioneers of the Italian chemical industry, « eclectically combining Islamic, Byzantine and Medieval motifs » as Giovanna Virgilio wrote under the Canzo heading in the guide book Guide della Provincia di Como – il Triangolo Lariano. The land was sold to Magni by the Gavazzi family, local silk factory owners of noble lineage.

It is certainly the most renowned and representative villa in Canzo; it has the shape of a fairytale castle, complete with turret, balconies and terraces, built in grey Vicenza stone ashlars. This material originated from the city where Magni used to live and the workers employed in the construction came. Inside, each room has a different shape and its own architectural style. «A limonaia leads from the rooms to the library. In it, the visitor feels immediately amazed by the engaging paintings by artist Silvio Bicchi representing humanity in that particular historical period: the life of the early twentieth century, war, peace, work, victory, humanity at a crossroads» (source: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canzo). Famous artist Achille Beltrame, the illustrator of weekly magazine La Domenica del Corriere, was responsible for decorating the entrance ceiling and the dining room: in the latter four deer hunting scenes in a medieval setting are depicted, where Magni and his family are accompanied by horses, dogs and falcons.

The park, embellished by centuries-old trees, is enhanced by a lovely outdoor theatre and a turret-oratory.

After Magni’s death, the villa was at first acquired by publisher Angelo Rizzoli, and was later sold to the current owners, who in the last years of the past century provided for its complete restoration, creating a prestigious reception and conference centre.


Villa ex Magni Rizzoli via Verza 23, Canzo; Tel. 031.670391 – 335.6867666

Read here to know more about Villa Rizzoli:

Villa ex Magni Rizzoli website

Read here to know more about Magno Magni:

Wikipedia – Magno Magni

Villa Verza

Villa Verza


Location: the former complex of Villa Verza overlooks Via Verza.

Paving: –

Architectural barriers: information on accessibility is available in the description of Stage 5.

Access: the former complex of Via Verza – now divided into several private properties – has a number of different entrances, all of which are from Via Verza.

Services: parking available in the area, automated teller machine.

Leisure and food: ice-cream shop, take-away pizza, restaurants, bars and cafes in the area.


(Silvia Fasana)

Before starting his industrial activity in the second half of the 18th century, entrepreneur Carlo Verza (1749-1833) bought land planted with grapes, mulberry trees and woods in the hamlet of Cranno, near the Vallategna waterfall, further to the auction of the assets belonging to the suppressed friary of the Friars Minor Conventual in San Miro di Canzo. In addition to a farmhouse and a flour mill, Verza built on the land a first building for the spinning of silk. The Foce stream, also owned by the Verza family, was partially diverted to the plants through two sluice-gates. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Verza mill employed about 1300 workers, thus becoming one of the leading enterprises in Lombardy with regard to number of staff and manufacturing capacity.

Studies and documents confirm that, as early as the mid-17th century and up to the mid-18th century, Canzo was one of the richest and most important manufacturing centres of Lombardy as a whole.

The complex was then restored in 1820 by Giuseppe Bovara together with the adjoining manor house at street number 82 which, in the courtyard, still retains the central front, with a porch on the ground floor and Ionic pilasters in the upper ones.

A portion of the property, including the manor house, passed on to the Conti-Valsecchi family, who for some time continued to use moving water through the construction of a small turbine; here is where the “House Museum” (as art critic Vittorio Sgarbi defined it) of contemporary painters Walter Cremonini and Ietta Buttini is located.

Another portion of the complex was purchased by Salvatore Fiume, the great Italian twentieth century painter. The artist settled in Canzo in 1946, adapting part of the old mill (of which you can still see the old brick chimney) as his workshop, which in 1952 also became his residence. The workshop is now the home of the “Salvatore Fiume” foundation.

«The spaces of the former factory have a welcoming effect on the visitor, presenting themselves as a true artist’s workshop, where everything is still intact. The visitor is then led by the premises themselves into the intimacy of Fiume’s artistic journey and at the heart of his philosophy, and may appreciate the works where they were conceived and generated. The works of Fiume can be found in some of the most important museums in the world, such as the Vatican Museums, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the MoMA in New York, the Puškin Museum in Moscow and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan» (source: http://cultura.provincia.como.it/cultura/sistemamuseale/).

Another part of the complex has been divided into several private properties.


Fondazione Fiume via Alessandro Verza 68, Canzo; e-mail info@laurafiume.it

Read here to know more about Salvatore Fiume and Canzo:

Wikipedia – Salvatore Fiume

Salvatore Fiume official website

Province of Como Museum network website – Fiume Collection

Stazione FNM a Canzo 

The Milano – Erba – Asso line of Ferrovie Nord Milano


(Salvo Bodonaro, Roberto Ghioldi)

Canzo and Asso are at the centre of the Ferrovie Nord Milano (Northern Milan Railways) network. Although geographically this statement may seem to be out of place, in actual fact it is not like that at all, at least from a historical point of view.

The decision to bring the train to upper Brianza is at the origins of the railway track system which over time would become one of most important local transport networks in Italy.

Before taking the famous name of “Ferrovie Nord Milano (Northern Milan Railways) (1883), it was called “Società Anonima delle Ferrovie Milano-Saronno e Milano-Erba” and it was on these two sections that its founder – Belgian engineer Albert Vaucamp – started this railway service, which later proved so valuable to the economy, culture and development of large portions of the Lombard territory.

The specific project (with terminus at Erba-Incino) was drawn up by engineers Bianchi and Campiglio, and the first train arrived in this city of Brianza on December 31st 1879, at a station which is no longer in existence.

The current station of Erba is in fact different from the original, as the extension of the railway line to Canzo-Asso involved its complete reconstruction in a different location, although not very far away.

The idea to extend the line to the Vallassina was debated for a long time, and implemented only in the 20s of the last century (also due to the Great War) at the time of the greatest expansion of the Northern Milan Railways network.

The new section was inaugurated on June 15th 1922, after just two years of work. A truly prestigious achievement when you consider the constructive engagement represented by numerous works of art, including the – then – longest tunnel of the entire network, the bridge over the river Lambro, and a decidedly steep path along its entire length.

The terminus of Canzo-Asso and the stops of Canzo, Caslino d’Erba, Pontelambro – Castelmarte and Lezza – Carpesino thus fulfil an ambitious infrastructural project started many decades before, hopefully destined to last much longer given its irreplaceable function as umbilical cord with Milan.

And to think that it is an “unfinished” business, as the original plan was to take the railway line to Bellagio. Anyway, while the latter village was not particularly bothered, Canzo and Asso had a reason to smile, having found themselves in the unexpected role of terminus of those tourist flows that the Belle Époque generously dispensed at least until the outbreak of the First World War.

In 1929 overhead line electrification was installed on the entire line and the old steam engines were definitively replaced by flaming new EB 700 series electric locomotives and towed railcars which, with a long list of variants and descendants, have ensured services until the advent of the modern complex double-decker EMU trains (called TAFs and TSRs) at the start of the new millennium, which still dominate unchallenged the passenger services along the route now run by TRENORD.

The station of Canzo (now an intermediate stop) and the terminus of Canzo-Asso were built during the extension of the line in the early ’20s of the last century. Albeit each with a different emphasis in accordance with their functional hierarchy, both show the canons of a sober and elegant Liberty style, fittingly expressing the dignity and importance of public rail services.

Read here to know more about the Milano – Erba – Asso line of Northern Milan Railways and the two stations of Canzo and Canzo-Asso:

Wikipedia – Milano – Asso Railway

Wikipedia – Canzo Railway Station

Wikipedia – Canzo-Asso Railway Station

Ferrovie in Rete website

Club Treni Brianza website

COMOinTRENO association website

Trenord website