Stage 2 – The historic core of Rovenna
The hamlet of Rovenna, which lies on the hillside, along the eastern slopes of Mount Bisbino, still maintains the appearance of an ancient rural settlement. From via Colonna take via Notai, an asphalted road named after the profession successfully carried out since the fifteenth century by many representatives of the most influential families of Rovenna (“notai” is the Italian word for “notaries”). Right at the beginning of the road, at number two, you find the former Belvedere restaurant, opened in the early years of the past century in an old farmhouse, “La Curt del Belvedere”, with the date 1679 inscribed on its entrance architrave. Having been in business for nearly a century, the restaurant is now closed and the building has been turned into a private home; the name Belvedere (“panorama” in Italian) comes from the great view it enjoys on Cernobbio and the first basin of the lake. Continue for approximately 3 metres and turn left into vicolo Bonino (a 1.2m wide alley named after a wealthy local family), moving between the thick walls of the rural buildings that characterize the historic old town of Rovenna, until, after about 5 metres, you reach the “L’Era di Bunin”, a 7m x 5m wide court, with a mix of stone, concrete, and asphalt paving. You should keep to the centre of the court to avoid invading the private property adjacent to the houses. The term “era” was used to indicate a courtyard surrounded by farmhouses on three or four of its sides, which was where the social life of the inhabitants occurred. The beautiful house at number 5, that you encounter as you enter, with two pillars surmounted by two lions – holding a coat of arms – that “guard” the entrance of the small cobblestone square, may have belonged to a wealthier family, and was separated from the other houses, reserved for farmers. Once you pass a long covered walkway, turn right, and continue along the alley, between old buildings and farmhouses, one of which stands out from the rest for some architectural details that reveal its original appearance: the undressed stone, the solid wood architrave, and the wooden doors of its stable and barn. After about 30 metres one enters the small and secluded piazza Fontana, named after its granite fountain. Of very simple design, it was created in 2009 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the local sport club (Gruppo Sportivo Rovennese): the dates 1959 and 2009, together with the logo of the association, depicting a witch riding a broom, decorate the front of the basin. The square is paved with cobblestones. Turn right: at the bottom of the square, on the right, you can see the access to via dei Notai, lined with old buildings, some of which have retained their original undressed stone style. Then take via Umberto I, the main street of the village, which was an independent municipality until 1929. The road is asphalted in the middle, with a strip of cobblestones, of variable width (30cm on average), on each side; asphalt is interrupted every 15 metres by horizontal strips of 30cm cobblestones, which generate a rather pleasant visual effect. The road is flanked by old courts, often called by the name or nickname of the family who lived there, some of which have been restored maintaining the typical undressed stone style (see The Farmhouses). Every year, in the autumn, these courts and nearby streets host a number of events (see Fairs and exhibitions), which have now become a tradition: “Chestnuts, witches … and more”, the “Fair of livestock and goods”, and the “Lower Lake Como Pumpkin Show”. Here and there along via Umberto I you can also see buildings with architectural elements that reveal their ancient distinction: they were the homes of wealthier families.
The “La Curt de La Panatona” courtyard opens at number 36, on the left hand-side, in front of another court, the “La Curt di Legn”, at number 25. A little further on, still on the right hand-side of via Umberto I, the façade of the house at number 23 hosts a rather peculiar specimen of ammonite, the fossil of a cephalopod mollusc from the Mesozoic Era.
On the opposite side of the road, at number 28, you come to the “La Curt del Piela”, where an aedicule with a painting of Our Lady of Bisbino, protected by a wrought iron grate, is inserted in the concrete brick boundary wall. Our Lady is depicted standing, as in the older marble statue now visible on the altar of the shrine dedicated to her at the top of the mountain; however, it is not as white as the original, and painted with subtle colours. At its feet, the outlined figure of the shrine (see Our Lady of Bisbino).
On the opposite side, at number 11, a beautiful gneiss portal, flanked by two low bollards, and surmounted by an empty granite niche that probably housed a sacred image, and by a – now rusty – “Milano” insurance company iron plate, dating back to the 1920’s, is worthy of mention.
Continuing along via Umberto I, at number 18 you find the “La Curt di Figitt” courtyard; here, too, there is a small niche, surrounded by undressed stones, which hosts a small painting with an effigy once again of Our Lady of Bisbino, however this time representing the painted wooden statue which is now preserved in the area behind the Shrine’s altar. Beside the small niche, a fountain is enclosed in a larger niche framed by ashlars. In this same court, two elegant granite pillars supporting one of the blind arches emphasizing the entrance to the house are also noteworthy.
Another courtyard, “La Curt del Gaetan”, follows at number 14. The house has been restored using undressed stone, while the architraves of the doors and windows on the ground floor are made of wood.
After about 150 metres from Piazza Fontana, via Umberto I runs along the right hand-side (when looking at the façade) of the Chapel of the Ossuary, a low whitewashed building which looks onto the church square. The relics of Saint Candidus are deposited here, together with the remains of other exhumations. By turning immediately to the right and crossing a low 5cm threshold you reach the churchyard, paved with concrete flags.
By proceeding inside the churchyard while keeping to the right, one borders the west side of the churchyard itself, along which there are two semicircular flowerbeds, limited by 10 cm curbs, which are planted with trees and shrubs, and separated by two granulated concrete benches. Further on there is a Tuscan capital granite column, surmounted by a wrought iron cross. Originally, this column supported the precious gilt copper Rovenna Cross, which scholars date back to the eleventh or twelfth century. The Rovenna Cross is still preserved as a precious heritage of the church, and was replaced in the nineteenth century by the one you can see today.
On the other hand, by proceeding inside the churchyard while keeping to the left, one borders its north side, occupied by a long flowerbed with trees, limited on the inside and on the outside by 10cm curbs, and surmounted by stone posts, approx. 60cm high, holding an iron chain; after about 25 metres you find a second 5m access, followed by an approx. 70cm high wall.
The churchyard covers the area that precedes the façade and the left side of the church (when looking at the façade). The right side of the church (again when looking at the façade) continues with the former parish house. Fragments of the old sacred building’s frescoes have been found on its walls and on the walls of the church.
The Church of St. Michael in Rovenna, already in existence in the Middle Ages, was rebuilt in the Baroque style around 1670; in 1856 the engineer Antonio Amadeo redesigned the façade, embellished by imposing 17th century stone portal transferred from the suppressed monastery of S. Marco (St. Mark) in Borgovico. On the left you can see the outline of the Oratory of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, now a winter chapel, the construction whereof was financed by remittances sent by people of Rovenna who emigrated to Bologna. The church is normally accessed by the side door on the left.
Once inside, you may admire the marvellous main altar’s wooden altarpiece, the work of Andrea Redaelli of Como and Paolo Felice Cassina of Cernobbio, based on a drawing by the great Baroque sculptor Giovanni Battista Barberini of Laino (1692).
After a highly recommended visit to the church, keep left and exit the churchyard by the same passage used to enter, cross via Umberto I, and, after about 5 metres, you will be able to see a niche in the wall with a small fountain. By continuing for approximately 30 metres until the start of via Umberto I, you will encounter on the right “La Curt di Cacciatori”, with the mustard coloured three-storey building which used to host a restaurant, the trattoria dei Cacciatori. In the courtyard you can see a small wooden building, where the Band of Rovenna, formed in 1921, was first based. At the corner with via del Bisbino (continuation of via della Libertà), an interesting stone stele with the inscription “Strada Vittorio Emanuele III al Bisbino” is inserted into the boundary wall. Cross via del Bisbino on the pedestrian crossing to reach the start of viale delle Rimembranze, which leads to the hamlet’s cemetery. At the entrance of the road, which is bordered by lime trees and was built in 1919 according to a design by engineer Balzarotti, you find the small square paved with concrete cobbles hosting the Rovenna War Memorial. The iron memorial, representing an eagle, is the work of sculptor Salvino Marsura and was donated by a holidaymaker, Mrs. Lina Migliavada, in memory of her husband Paolo.
If you look up north, you will see Le Tre Croci di Corna (The Three Crosses of Corna), on the hillock overlooking Rovenna, the avant-corps of Mount Bisbino. These crosses are in memory of an act of violence that took place on 2 July 1843, during the traditional pilgrimage to the shrine of Bisbino by the faithful coming from nearby Canton Ticino: a showdown occurred between supporters of opposing parties, with three victims, represented by the three crosses .
Immediately after the cemetery of Rovenna the Sentée di Sort (Track of chance) begins, connecting Rovenna with Moltrasio. The name refers to the fact that these steep terrains outside the town, at the border between Rovenna and Moltrasio, and owned by the wealthier families, were assigned by drawing lots. This track is not strictly part of our path, however it does deserve a mention.
Point of departure Cernobbio, Rovenna, former Belvedere Restaurant
Point of arrival Cernobbio, Rovenna, War memorial
Route type urban
Total length approx. 250m
Time on foot 15min
Rise 450m asl
Maximum altitude 450m asl
Paving material asphalt, stone slabs, stone cobbles, concrete flags, concrete cobbles
Parking at the departure point no
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