From the city centre to the mount of Brunate
Location: the Cathedral of Como is situated in Piazza del Duomo, a short walk from Piazza Cavour, the large square fronting the lake, in the tourist part of town. Coming from Piazza Cavour, proceeding to the south, one reaches Piazza Duomo under the Portici Plinio arches. At the end of the arcade the square opens (measuring approximately 60 X 30 m): on your left you will find the façade of the Cathedral.
Paving: urban pavement.
Architectural barriers: the square is completely free of obstacles and properly paved.
Access: from the Square, one enters the cathedral through 3 doors, but the large central door is almost always closed. The first of the two side doors is located approximately 20 m from the steps that connect the portico to the square, the second door is 25 m from the first. One accesses the Cathedral by two side doors, one on the north side, called the “Porta della Rana” (Frog Door) and one on the south side.
Other nearby attractions: alongside the Cathedral, on the left side, one finds the antique
Broletto a porch-like structure where, in the age of the Communes, town meetings were held and justice administrated.
The Broletto building rests on a porch supported by nine large columns. The pavement under the porch is not very accessible as it has many slopes and obstacles. The Broletto must be accessed from the north side of the porch, by use of a staircase. Access to the Broletto is also possible via a lift, which unfortunately is currently not in operation.
Services: City of Como Info Point on the right of the façade of the Duomo, in via Maestri Comacini. Bus stops: 200 m to the left of the façade, in via Portici Plinio, and 300 m behind the Cathedral, via Verdi corner via Virginio Bettinelli. Como Lake Railway Station: at 500 m in via Manzoni – Largo Leopardi.
Leisure and Food: along the perimeter of the square there are a variety of bars, cafes, a restaurant and tourist shops.
Notices: the square can be quite crowded, and often there are stands of nonprofit associations, election booths, street artists.
Useful info: Masses: Sundays and holidays: 7 am – 8 am – 9 am – 10.30 am – 12 noon – 5 pm – 6.30 pm – 8 pm
Weekdays: 7.30 am – 8.15 am – 9 am – 10 am – 6.30 pm
Due to the complexity and the richness of the works of Como’s Duomo we will only make reference to those which best express the spiritual dimension of pilgrimage: from the outside, on the front, in Rodari’s lunette of the main portal, the Three Wise Men, the first pilgrims of Christianity, an example of faith, perseverance and humility, look onto the square as if in the act of receiving homage from the crowd; the fact that the people of Como turned to them to ask for help when in need is certified by a paper carrying a prayer found in the cross on top of the dome, left as relic “by contact”, circa 1736, after having carried it to Cologne and layed it on the reliquary of the Three Wise Men. On the other side of the frontalpiece, facing the lake and the Via Regina, St. Christopher, patron Saint of the pilgrims, looks down from the highest niche. You can also find him inside the church in a notable 16th century painting, next to the altar of the Passion, where he is once again portrayed in relief on the antependium.
The main themes of the lunette of the Porta della Rana (the Frog Door) by Tommaso and Giacomo Rodari (1505-1507) are travelling (represented by the luggage) and welcoming (the gestures of the various characters) in Mary’s Visitation. On the other side, the lunette of the Southern door deals with the same topic in the tired gestures of The Holy Family in the flight into Egypt with guiding angel and it can again be found inside the Door with the reference to the double pilgrimage to Rome and Santiago de Compostella, in the shell and keys, in the Saint Rocco, in relief, which is within reach of those going out from the church. The main themes of the Adoration of the Kings and of the Escape from Egypt surface once again in the tempera paintings, which used to be antas of the ancona to the altar of St. Abbondio, masterworks by Bernardino Luini, who expressed, in an ecumenical perspective, the meeting of the Kings coming from different cardinal points under the sign of the comet, and by Gaudenzio Ferrari, who added to St. Joseph a distinctive feature of the pilgrim, the stick with a pumpkin tied on as a flask.
A big 17th Century painting with an Adoration of the Kings, similar to the one by Luini, probably by the Recchi brothers, hangs on the counterfacade. The embossed silver urn by Gaspare Mola, part of the treasure of the Duomo and donated by the bishop Volpi (1586) – a perfect copy of this urn can be seen in the Duomo Room of the Archaeological Museum “Paolo Giovio” – is believed to contain the Magdalene’s hairpins, the hair of the Virgin, when young and when old, the stones on which Christ was believed to have walked upon, and the blood of the martyrs.
These relics may surprise us for the ingenuity of the time but they are a touching evidence of a faith in need of a perceptible grip, but not necessarily any less honest or profound.
Cathedral via Maestri Comacini 4, Como; Tel. 031.265244
Location: the church of S. Giacomo is on the left of the Cathedral, overlooking a small square, Piazza Grimoldi. To reach it, leave the Cathedral through the North Door (Door of the Frog) – which leads to a small external pedestrian area – and cross the road, very busy with traffic. At the northern end of the square, at the very bottom, stands the Bishop’s Palace.
Paving: urban pavement and asphalt.
Architectural barriers: the distance from the Cathedral to the church is completely free of obstacles and properly paved.
Access: the access to S. Giacomo is by the side door on the right. There are no steps. Unfortunately the church is often closed.
Services: City of Como Info Point on the right of the façade of the Duomo, in via Maestri Comacini. Bus stops: 100 m to the left of the façade, in via Portici Plinio, and 300 m behind the Cathedral, Via Verdi corner via Virginio Bettinelli. Como Lake Railway Station: at 500 m in via Manzoni-Largo Leopardi.
Leisure and Food: in the nearby Piazza del Duomo, and under the arches on the right of the church, there are a variety of bars, cafes, and tourist shops.
Please Note: when coming from the Duomo and/or Piazza del Duomo, in order to reach the church of S. Giacomo one needs to cross a zebra crossing without audible signal, and the road is quite busy. Please be careful when you cross.
At present there is some uncertainty regarding the exact origin of the church of S. Giacomo. The oldest reference can be found in the Codex of the Cross Bearers, kept in the City Museum and dated 1144. According to Matteo Gianoncelli the building dates back to the early 12th Century. This theory is borne out by the architectural elements of the building, typical of late Lombard art. The comparison with other religious buildings erected by the Cluniacs in that period gave rise to the mistaken belief that it was a building of monastic origin. Nor are the Acts of the pastoral visit to the diocese of the bishop of Como Feliciano Ninguarda (1589-1593), which tell us that the main altar and the side altars of the small apses were dedicated to three saints (James, John the Baptist and Nicolas) to whom the Cluniacs normally dedicated their altars, sufficient evidence in this respect.
A Cluniac origin is made even more uncertain by the fact that the church was officiated by just one priest, as can be found in a document dated 1176. The church had originally a nave and two aisles and probably started with a pronaos and one belltower (not two as stated elsewhere). The church begun to show signs of decadence in the middle of the 16th Century. This led to a reduction of its volume and its partial destination to public use around the time when Giovanni Antonio Volpi was bishop. In 1580, as indicated by the stone on the actual front, the church was then split and moved back; the so-called pronaos was not demolished but, once it became isolated from the rest of the church, was destined to secular use. As part of new town planning it was then demolished in 1927. In the course of the centuries the buildings around the church changed hands many times and saw successive additions, so that it is now no longer possible to admire the apse and the sides.
Cathedral via Maestri Comacini 4, Como; Tel. 031.265244
Location: the Basilica of S. Fedele in Como is located approx. halfway along via Vittorio Emanuele, 200 m from Piazza del Duomo. One enters via Vittorio Emanuele by crossing the Square southwards, walking alongside the façade of the Cathedral, 50 metres after the crossroads with via Indipendenza one finds the apse of S.Fedele on the right.
Paving: urban pavement
Architectural barriers: via Vittorio Emanuele is properly paved. However, on both sides of the streets, at the entrance of the numerous shops, there are some flower boxes. Although it is pedestrian, a restricted number of cars is allowed on via Indipendenza. 10 m after S.Fedele a very large flower box located at the centre of the street prevents access to general traffic and is equipped with a few seats for resting.
Access: via Vittorio Emanuele runs alongside the apse of S. Fedele. Access to the Basilica is through two doors, right and left of the apse, respectively. The left door is rather narrow and not decorated; the right entrance is a monumental portal embellished by Romanesque sculptures, mostly low hanging.
Services: 65 m from the beginning of via Vittorio Emanuele, on the right handside, there is a Pharmacy. Further on, on the left, the Municipal Treasury, the Town Hall (Palazzo Cernezzi) and, on the corner with via Perti, the Post Office.
Leisure and Food: right at the beginning of the street there is a newsagent, on the left. Along the route there are bars, cafes, tourist restaurants and a variety of shops. On the left handside of the street, at number 100, there is a small public garden with playground, inside an old courtyard.
Please note: the street is always very busy due to the great number of shops, particularly at weekends.
A Romanic masterpiece praised for the originality of its style, the airy architecture of its apse, its back door with Romanic sculptures, the stilofori lions turned into holy-water stoups, it has undergone many changes (barrel vault on the central nave with archi-timpano structure visible from the outside; stucco and painted decorations) and serious damage during restoration work to the front, the belltower, the outside of the lantern, the windows of the apses, and the parish buildings.
Under the name of St. Eufemia, it was probably the first Cathedral of Como, as the Baptistry of S. Giovanni in Atrio, that may still be seen inside the building on the west side of the square, right opposite the face of the church of S. Fedele itself, would suggest.
Difficult to set against an architectural background, due to its Romanic plan consisting of a very short nave and aisles and a central area under the dome, it has two majestic apses facing the transept and broken by the arches of the deambulatory and in the past by the women’s gallery, later covered by frescoes and paintings.
Giuseppe Rocchi interpreted this architectural solution by giving it a meaning connected to pilgrimage: it facilitated the flow of pilgrims coming from via Vittorio Emanuele to honour the remains of St. Fedele the martyr, to whom a Gothic coffer is said to have been dedicated in 1365 (it was suspended over columns behind the old altar). Now it is placed under the table of the postconciliar altar.
The memory of the Saint’s martyrdom is portrayed by a medieval votive fresco on the so-called transverse wall in the northern apse. On the same wall there are other votive frescoes, in succession on the so-called transverse wall in the Northern apse: the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in mandorla, St. John the Baptist, the 14th Century Saint Anna Metterza (“metterza” meaning “put in third place”, behind the Virgin and the Baby) together with a Trinity (where Christ Crucified is held up by the Father and inspired by the Holy Spirit in the guise of a dove): a didactic pair of medieval iconographies to show the two natures of Christ, son of a woman and son of God, at the same time of human and divine nature. Similarly, Giovanni Andrea De Magistris, during the Renaissance (1508), painted a Baby in full corporeity, sitting with the Virgin Mary on a throne adorned with dolphins, symbols of salvation. This fresco can be seen in the first chapel on the right for those coming from the square. Next to the Virgin stand St. Sebastian and St. Rocco, the two patron saints who protect from epidemics. The latter carries on his pilgrim mantle the shell of James and the Holy Face, the so-called “Veronica”, believed to be the “true icon” of Christ, which the pilgrims to Rome could venerate in Rome itself until the year 1527, and copies of which they used to buy and stick to their mantles on the journey home. Under the fresco there’s a marble reliquiary with the remains of St. Amantius bishop of Como, which originally was kept in another church in Como (Church of Gesù). The Crucifix and Saints, a painting on the counterfacade accredited to Giovan Pietro Gnocchi (16th and 17th Century) also comes from the same church. The pictures of the Four Crowned Saints, patrons of sculptors and stone-cutters, were lost when their altar was removed at the end of the 16th Century. The altar of Saint Biagio is now just a small statue on the Altar of the Rosary. The gold-plated and painted wooden sculpture that can be found on this altar is the work of Giovanni Gaffuri (1665), while the frescoes on the walls and the spherical vault are by Francesco Carpano and Gian Domenico Caresana (who painted at least three of them, including the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, 1613).
In the chapel of the Crucifix, patronage of the Lucini family, a papermache statue and paintings of the Passion by Carlo Innocenzo Carloni (18th Cent.) cover some frescoes by Isidoro Bianchi. Of these, only the stuccoes and a damaged Paradise (1621-1622) are still visible.
Parish of S. Fedele via Vittorio Emanuele 94, Como; Tel. 031.267295
Tower and Church* of S. Vitale
* lost church
Location: the Tower of S. Vitale is located at the end of via Serafino Balestra and marks the south-east corner of the Como’s ancient city walls. It is reached by leaving S. Fedele walking southwards along via Vittorio Emanuele, up to Piazza Medaglie d’Oro. One must then move towards the left corner of Piazza Medaglie d’Oro (south-east) and take via Balestra; 15 m after the flower box, at the end of via Balestra, turn right and exit by the wall gate: you will find yourself under the Tower of S. Vitale and in front of viale Cesare Battisti. To reach the location of the now disappeared church of S. Vitale, cross at the traffic lights on your right, then viale Battisti’s zebra crossing alongside the railway level crossing. The Church of S. Vitale and its hospital stood nearby, on the right, at the end of viale Battisti.
Paving: urban pavement, asphalt
Architectural barriers: up to via Balestra the route is free of obstacles. After approx. 60 m from the beginning of via Balestra you find large flower boxes at the centre of the street, with seats: you have to overtake them on the left (the passage is 1m wide). Via Balestra is the last street inside the pedestrian zone, followed by a large paved area where the market is held every Tuesday and Thursday morning and all day Saturday. To reach the traffic lights, you walk for 50 metres on the sidewalk and then cross two zebra crossings without audible signal, in an area with very busy traffic. Once you’ve crossed it is almost impossible to proceed on a wheelchair, even if accompanied, due to the slope, the irregular and narrow sidewalks and, further on, to the footpath to Brunate, which is unpaved and steep.
Access: the tower has no direct access and can be seen from the outside.
Other nearby attractions: on the left of Piazza Medaglie d’Oro, shortly before the beginning of via Balestra, there is the Archaeological Museum (Civico Museo Archeologico “Paolo Giovio”, inside Palazzo Giovio). At the beginning of via Balestra, on the right, the Garibaldi Museum (Palazzo Olginati). Both buildings have wide entrance gates.
Services: in Piazza Medaglie d’Oro no. 6 parking places for the disabled.
Leisure and Food: in Piazza Medaglie d’Oro, in front of the City Museum (Museo Civico), there’s a cinema for children, “La Lucernetta”, formerly church of S. Sisto; at the beginning of via Balestra, a restaurant with a nice garden.
This small church, which gives its name to the pentagonal tower next to it, was partially demolished and converted into a house with a shop in order to make space for the railway line. The 17th Century altar piece, of rather small artistic importance, showing a Virgin with Child venerated by Saint Vitale and Saint Peter (both saints give name to this church of a 13th century hospital, run by a confraternity) is now in S. Orsola (second span, left wall). The two large paintings in original frames (one, showing the Liberation of St. Peter by Gian Paolo Recchi (1685) is also in S. Orsola), may have been hanging on the sides of the altar piece.
A frieze with medallions held by puttos and showing scenes from the life of St. Peter, the work of early 17th Century painters inspired by Morazzone, originally placed under the ceiling of the meeting room of the confraternity of St. Vitale and St. Peter, was found in 1998.
Location: the church is located inside the Centro Pastorale “Cardinal Ferrari”. To reach the Centro from the Tower of S. Vitale, after crossing viale Battisti keep to the right and proceed along the narrow sidewalk and enter once you reach the front door of number 8.
Architectural barriers: the sidewalk is very narrow (less than 1 m), and the road is very busy: not recommended for wheelchairs.
Access: easy, through a wide front door and inner sliding doors. For direction sto the church please ask at the door.
Leisure and Food: at the crossing, on the side where the Centro Pastorale is located, there is a fruit shop and a bar.
Once the church of the Seminary, and now part of Centro Pastorale “Cardinal Ferrari”, it takes its name (Holy Trinity) from the altar piece by Morazzone (16th Century?), moved here from the church of the Augustinians of the Holy Trinity, now converted into army barracks, in via Volta/via Parini.
Its original name was S. Maria del Gerbo or church of the Ascension. Like other churches owned by nuns it became a double church during the Counter-Reformation. The building of the Seminary by Simone Cantoni meant that the nuns’ internal church at the back was lost, just as the affixing of the neoclassical pilaster strips and tympanum meant that the 17th Century fresco of the Resurrection by Giovan Paolo Ghianda was also lost, if it had not already been so. The altar piece was framed with stuccoes by Francesco Sala (18th Century).
What is now a straight wallled apse is the result of the closing of the openings into the church reserved to the nuns, which was behind it.
Augustinian Saints are painted on the vault and would seem to have been added later, in the squares surrounding the central medallion bearing the Ascension, accredited to Gian Domenico Caresana (1610-20). The remains of the blessed Pagano da Lecco, a Dominican martyr of the 13th Century, killed in Valtellina in 1277 by assassins hired by Corrado Venosta, rest under the table.
Centro Pastorale “Cardinal Ferrari” viale Cesare Battisti 8, Como; Tel. 031.279322
Location: the church of S Orsola is located at the beginning of Via T. Grossi. If you turn left after the zebra crossing in viale Battisti and you cross the railway line you will find the church on the right, immediately after the beginning of the sidewalk, 15 m away from the level crossing.
Architectural barriers: the road is very busy, the sidewalk is narrow, therefore difficult to use.
Access: the church is accessed through a wide portal with doors; to reach the portal you climb a step from the narrow sidewalk of the very busy via T. Grossi.
Services: paid parking and parking spaces for disabled are available nearby (viale Lecco).
Leisure and Food: at the beginning of the walk you find a newsagent on the left. Along the way there are bars, cafes, tourist restaurants, and, not far from the church, on the left, at the beginning of viale Lecco, and on the right, on via Grossi (access by a large courtyard), there are various snack bars and restaurants.
The simple front of the church has a stone portal, engraved by maestro Pelino di Onago in Val Travaglia before 1643, a mosaic portraying Saint Ursula and a brick facing (20th Century), and faces the old Stradone di Santa Croce (now via T. Grossi). The Diocletian window is the main source of light for the spacious area covered by a barrel vault, painted with frescoes dated 1614 (The Trinity, little Angels carrying symbols of the Passion, Angels with scrolls and festoons) accredited to Gian Domenico Caresana di Cureglia (Lugano), who is reported to have been still provisionally residing in contrada di San Vitale in 1616.
The structure of an older church of the Humiliati’s Convent is still standing near the former cloister, facing South and with relevant parts of frescoes still visible (14th to 16th Century). Andrea de’ Passeris’s fresco of the Virgin with the Child and Saint Ursula (late 15th Century) came from there before being removed with its retaining wall and placed inside the new church: it functions as altar-piece to the altar of the Virgin, on the left handside as you enter the church.
The stucco decorations with the Prophets and the Seven virtues on a green or orange background reflect, as do the glossy green-stained stucco pillars, the tints in de’ Passeris’s fresco. The small fresco panels (Annunciation, Presentation of Jesus; Visitation, Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the temple; Assumption) are by Antonio Maria Crespi known as il Bustino (1630).
The dark 17th Century painting of St. Francis in the act of receiving the stigmata, by an Anonymous painter, inspired by the work of Camillo Procaccini in S. Vittore in Balerna, inside the opposite chapel, characterized by a measured use of colour in the glossy stuccos of the orange coloured pillars and in the panels of the plastic stuccos with numerous symbols echoing the frescoes showing episodes of Franciscan temptation and sanctity.
The main altar piece by Moncalvo (18th Century) is placed inside an ancona made of polychrome marbles and wooden sculptures.
The semicircular apse with the wooden stalls is of recent construction and hosts the Glory of St. Ursula by Albertella (20th Century). Two twin paintings in original frames coming from St. Vitale can be seen over the confessionals: the one on the right is by Gian Paolo Recchi (1685) and portrays the Liberation of St. Peter from prison.
A wooden crucifix with haircloth hair (16th Century) hangs on a wrought-iron grating on the right handside of the counterfacade. Next to it, a scalloped table with Mario Radice’s St. Anthony from Padua and Saint Rita (20th Century) stands on a late baroque macchiavecchia corbel near the sealed ossuary at the entrance of the church, facing the baptismal font.
Parrocchia S. Orsola viale Lecco 125, Como; Tel. 031.268079 – 031.301756
Shrine of the Sacred Heart
Location: the Shrine of the Sacred Heart (Santuario del Sacro Cuore) looks out onto via T. Grossi. To reach the Sanctuary after leaving S. Orsola cross the zebra crossing and proceed along the left handside of via T. Grossi. After 50 m cross at the traffic lights with via Dante, then immediately turn right and cross again to reach the other side of via T. Grossi; after walking for a 100 metres you’ll find the entrance to the Shrine.
Architectural barriers:the road is very busy, the sidewalk is narrow, therefore difficult to use.
Access: access to the Shrine from via Grossi, is by a short staircase, a portico and a large portal. Access for the disabled is through the inner courtyard of via T. Grossi 18, where a lift leads directly to the entrance of the Shrine
Services: the private parking of via T. Grossi 18, owned by Opera Don Guanella, is available during the masses.
Leisure and Food: at the beginning of the walk, at the crossing with via Dante, bars (on the left) and a chemist (on the right). From the via T. Grossi 18 courtyard you can access the Don Luigi Guanella Museum, dedicated to the life and doings of the Founder of the Guanelliani Congregation. Visits to the Museum must be booked beforehand.
(Silvia Fasana, Lorenzo Marazzi)
In April 1886 the nuns of Saint Luigi Guanella arrived in Como from Pianello del Lario, “the cradle” of the Charitable Institute, to build a home for youngsters and elderly in need. At the time, in Contrada Santa Croce, which only the following year took its present name of via Tomaso Grossi, there were only fields and a farmhouse (“Casa Biffi”).
A few years later, in October 1891, father Luigi invited the new bishop Andrea Ferrari to evaluate the building project for a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart (to which Guanella was particularly devoted), in replacement of the small inner chapel, which had become inadequate, so that it could act as a point of juncture between the buildings built in the meantime to accommodate people of both sexes. The bishop, on the other hand, persuaded the priest to build something that would not be limited to the guests of the home but open to the public, a reference point for the city as a whole. He even established the surface himself, a much lager area than that which don Guanella had originally envisaged. The building of the Church was promptly started by the Regazzoni company to drawings by Giacinto Valli. On January 1st 1893 the finished church was blessed by bishop Ferrari and solemnly consecrated on 6th April 1893. This first building was 40 metres long and 13 metres wide, wiith single nave and four side chapels, and had a traditional apse.
Various circumstances led father Guanella to reconsider the structure of the church, which soon turned out to be only just sufficient for the guests. The church was then lengthened by 21 metres starting from the apse, leaving the altar as it was, to permit celebrations on either side. The works were performed by Arch. Luigi Perrone and local builders Marazzi on a project by a Roman architect, Aristide Leonori. A true copy of the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy Land was reproduced at the end of the new addition, dominated by a Calvary. Works ended in 1915, shortly after Father Guanella’s death. The fir wood coffered basilican ceiling was created by the “Casa Divina Provvidenza” carpenters on a drawing by Luigi Perrone (1942-1944), and carries three paintings, the highlight being Verzetti’s Transfiguration (1919). Saint Abundius and the Blessed card. Ferrari, painted by Torildo Conconi (1986), are placed on the arch of triumph. Two chapels can be found near the presbytery: on the left, the chapel of the Virgin Mary of the Divine Providence and Saints of Charity, with an altar piece painted by Giovan Battista Conti (1924), and on the right, the chapel of St. Joseph, with a painting, again by Giovan Battista Conti, representing the Passing Away of the Saint (1955), a copy of the original fresco by Ettore Ballerini (1924) located in the Basilica of S. Giuseppe in Trionfale in Rome, later destroyed by fire.
Beyond the presbytery, dominated by a simple altar covered by a marble ciborium (Bianchi, 1936), two other chapels open on: to the west, the chapel of the Sacred Heart with altar piece by Attilio Ticinese (1945); to the east, a chapel with a great marble altar hosting the remains of the Saint Luigi Guanella and Blessed Chiara Bosatta (arch. Pellegro Promontorio, 1991) and a fresco with the Pool of Bethesda (Mario Bogani, 1996) covering the entire wall. The votive chapel dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre is placed in the apse, and is dominated by a Calvary with the Crucifixion by Antonio Rescaldani (1917), a group of statues which has a stained-glass window by Giovanni Beltrami, of the same period as its background.
Casa “Divina Provvidenza” via T. Grossi 18, Como; Tel. 031.296711
Click here for Museo “Don Luigi Guanella” on the website of Sistema Museale della Provincia di Como
Click here for the Srine’s website
S. Croce in Boscaglia*
* structure in part lost
Location: the place where the church and convent of S. Croce in Boscaglia once stood is reached by walking along via T. Grossi uphill. It’s about 300 m away, after meeting the crossroads with Via Zezio, at street numbers 34-40.
Architectural barriers: the road is very busy, the sidewalk is narrow, therefore difficult to use.
Built by the Observant Franciscans (1440) after splitting from the Conventuals of St. Francis, it was demolished after 1810. The Northern wing of one of the three cloisters, with pointed arches over cilindrical pillars, is still standing, while an important fresco of the Crucifixion, late 15th Century, accredited to Felice Scotti, is in Villa Pecco (part of what once was the monastery).
Scotti almost certainly painted inside the Conventual church, probably the first example of a plan with a hall and painted partition, separating choir and presbytery, and three chapels on one side only, typical of Lombardy and Piedimont: some examples are in Lugano, Bellinzona, Caravaggio, Missaglia, Erba, Ivrea, Varallo. Not surprisingly, the Sacro Monte (Sacred Hill) of Varallo, an alternative to the pilgrimage in Palestine, was planned and started by Bernardino Caimi (14th April 1493), frier of S. Croce, as was the blessed Michele da Carcano, responsible for the constituting of Como’s General Hospital, S. Anna (bull of Paul II, 21st May 1468).
Istituto S. Croce Opera Divin Prigioniero via T. Grossi 50, Como; Tel. 031.305300
Hermitage of S. Donato
Location: the Hermitage of S. Donato is reachable only by a pedestrian footpath, after proceeding along via T. Grossi in the direction of Brunate. After approx. 180 m after the crossroads with via Zezio, via T. Grossi ends with a wide turn on the right, which marks the beginning of Via per Brunate. On the left of the turn you find the pedestrian-only Salita San Donato, which passes through Garzola and ends in Brunate.
Paving: asphalt (via T. Grossi / via per Brunate), old mule track.
Architectural barriers: the via T. Grossi / via per Brunate section is free of barriers or obstacles; the Salita San Donato is a stony mule-track with irregular steps, about 5-10 cm high and 60 cm wide. The track is steep, and the ground is irregular and crumbly, with loose stones. There is no protection on the side of the track looking downhill.
Access: access to the hermitage is pedestrian-only. The path is not accessible to unaccompanied disabled persons.
The area of the monastery is partly dug into the rock giving access to the hermit’s cave of the blessed Geremia Lambertenghi, a tertiary franciscan (1440-1513). The left wall of the single hall church is rupestrian. It was originally owned by the benedictine monastery of S. Giuliano and it was probably founded by the Longobards, its watch-tower converted into a bell-tower, and centre of the cult of Eastern origin of the weighing of the infants. Iacopo Mansueti, the commendatory, gave it to fr. Cornelio di Piacenza for the Franciscan Tertiaries.
The monastery, suppressed in 1772, was built in 1435, as evidenced by the architecture of the internal poligonal apse with the umbrella vault, over elegant carved corbels. Only the 17th Century stuccos remain inside the sacristy under the bell-tower, south of the presbytery, while the first chapel has been altered and the decoration is now gone. The church has an internal position; after a portico entrance acting as cloister it has a simple front with Diocletian window and a portal with a tympanum dated 1596.
S. Andrea in Brunate
Location: S. Andrea, Brunate’s parish church, is located at the heart of the village, near the Station of the Funicular, facing a large terrace where you can enjoy a great view. To reach the church from S. Donato you must take the footpath to Brunate, which is connected to the village main street (via Volta) by large paved uphill path. After crossing via Volta, climb the steps on the right leading through the village to Via della Funicolare, then turn left and continue until you reach piazza Bonacossa (the square of the Funicular), which you will find to your left. Leave the square and keep walking uphill along via della Funicolare. After approx.100 m turn right, and you’ll see the Church of S. Andrea.
Paving: asphalt, pavement, mule-track.
Architectural barriers: the main barriers are the many steps along the entire route.
Access: a flight of stairs leads to the church square. Entrance to the church is by a large side door after climbing a few steps.
Services: the Como – Brunate Funicular station is not far from the church. The square is fitted with fresh water springs and benches. The few parking spaces available are almost exclusively for residents. The best way to reach Brunate, if not walking, is by public transport (Funicular).
Leisure and Food: the Funicular itself is an attraction, and is surrounded by various snack bars and restaurants.
The church, originally built for an Agustinian convent famous for the Blessed Maddalena Albrici (1390-1465) and the legendary Saint Guglielma, has a majestic cement front, drawn by the engineer Stampa as part of the widening (1927/32) that redefined space for the congregation in a pseudo-octagonal form, ending in an airy dome inside an octagonal lantern. Frescoes include a Glory of Saints by Raffaele Albertella (1934), who also painted the symbols of the Evangelists in the pendentives which sustain the dome, and, in the long vaulting cells, the Nativity, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The four main pillars host devotional figures: Saint Joseph, The Guardian Angel, Saint Luigi Gonzaga, Saint Agnes. On the right handside, in addition to the neoclassical marble holy water stoups (1937-38), there is the tombstone of Maddalena Albrici (early 16th Century), of a similar quality to the works of Rodari in the Duomo, once lost but rediscovered by arch. Piero Clerici. The right side chapel (1936), facing the side entrance to the church with a pleasant baroque stone marble, once the main portal of the old church (renewed from 1676) is dedicated to her. Only the presbytery and the two side chapels before it remain to this day carrying parts of 16th Century paintings: almost entirely invisible those on the right, inside the chapel dedicated to the Rosary, while the ones inside the other chapel, now dedicated to the Sacred Heart, are quite clear (Episodes in the life of Saint Vincenzo Ferrer, by C.C. Tagliabue 1932, with an early 18th Century marble frame): a statue of a Dead Christ can be seen under the table. On the vault over the space connecting the presbytery and the nave there is a Glory of Saint Maurice in between lunettes with scenes of monastic virtue (Felice Gennari da Palestrina, 1890). An even older fragment, dating back to the late 15th Century, shows Saint Guglielma with Maddalena Albrici and the devout donor of the painting at her feet. The portrait of Saint Guglielma was honoured for centuries – until after the II World War – in a “pilgrimage of milk”: mothers and pregnant women came, particularly from nearby Brianza, to ask for protection during and after the birth of the babies and for the gift of milk for their offspring.
The frescoes of the presbytery, restored by Leonardo Camporini (1998/99), are by G. Paolo Recchi and his nephews Raffaele and Carlo (1679-82): they show an Annunciation near the old apse window, brought to new light by the aforementioned restoration (arch. Darko Pandakovic), the Glory of Saints Andrew and Maurice on the vault; inside the lunettes (another recovery), the Martyrdom of Saint Maurice, on the right, and of Saint Andrew, opposite, almost entirely lost. Medals showing an Archangel, Saint Bartholomew, and the Blessed Maddalena Albrici can be seen in the four pendentives.
Parish of Brunate Piazza della Chiesa 2, Brunate; Tel. 031.220216
from Wikipedia, Brunate
Location: the small church of S. Maurizio is located on the square where the footpath leading to the Faro Voltiano departs. To reach the church on foot from the parish church of S. Andrea you have to turn left after approx. 200 m in via Maddalena Albrici, then, after 100 m, turn left again and take the asphalted road (via Giacomo Scalini). After approx. 30 m, on the right handside of the road you will find the beginning of the mule-track, which, after less than a km, and a number of hairpin curves, will take you to S. Maurizio.
Pavement: asphalt, mule track.
Architectural barriers: the irregular surface of the mule-track creates a number of obstacles.
Access: the church is easily accessed from the square.
Services: Funicolare – CAO line bus stop.
Leisure and Food: There are bars and restaurants around the square and its surroundings, and public gardens on the left. A refuge owned by the CAO, Workers’ Alpine Club, is located nearby. The Club, founded in Como back in 1885, is still active and very dear to the people of Como.
The small neo-Romanic church, characterized by a monocuspidated front encircled by small pensile arches and a single portal, has above a polychrome St. Maurice on a horse (replacing the one painted by Rinaldi di Tremona, 19th Century), and, in the two blind side windows, the Archangel Gabriel and Our Lady of the Annunciation, two recent monochromatic paintings by Torildo Conconi (Seventies). The restoration in 1999 has brought back to light the back wall and the smaller boundaries of the old church.
The altar piece with The Virgin Mary between St. Maurice and Maddalena Albrici, that can be seen inside is by Giuseppe Reina (1890) a little known painter from Como who also worked for La Scala theatre in Milan.
Click here for information about Funicolare e bus di linea
Location: The lighthouse enjoys a great panorama, as it is located right above the lake, on a small hill in front of the church of S. Maurizio. A short footpath, which starts in front of the church, and followed by a large, 100 m long, staircase, leads to the site of the lighthouse. On the back you’ll find a lovely balcony-like terrace with three crosses and three benches, for a well-earned rest.
Paving: asphalt, pavement.
Architectural barriers: The main barriers are the many steps along the entire route.
Access: access to the lighthouse is by the above mentioned footpath, with steps approx. 10 cm high and more than 1 m wide, and protected by big chains. It is possible to climb the 143 steps inside the lighthouse and admire the panorama from the top.
Services: Brunate – CAO line bus terminal. The square hosts a number of charming restaurants.
The lighthouse was built in 1927 for the celebrations of a hundred years from the death of Alessandro Volta, who invented the battery.
Gabriele Giussani, an engineer, was responsible for the project and decided to build the lighthouse on the Hill of the Three Crosses (Monte Tre Crocette), in San Maurizio over Brunate. This location was chosen as it is overlooking Como and can be seen not only from the two basins of the lake, but also from the Lombard plain and Brianza. This choice was not appreciated by the people of Moltrasio because the three-coloured beams of light coming from the lighthouse caused them problems at night.
The lighthouse was donated to the City of Como. The expenses for running it led to many arguments and for some time people were asked to pay for the visit, causing a drop in the numbers coming to see it. It then deteriorated rapidly, mainly due to the fact that it was no longer in use.
The building became in recent years a comfortable “base” for various antennas, including a parabolic television antenna in 1974, that was eliminated shortly after. The Tourist Board restored parts of it between 1961 and 1965, and, due to the recent celebrations in honour of Volta, the lighthouse, now completely functioning, is back with its three-coloured beams.
In ancient times there was a cross on the site of the lighthouse, so there probably was a religious tradition of some sort. This is suggested also by the accounts of the pastoral visits (17th Century) and by a painting accredited to Gian Domenico Caresana (1618) in Como’s City Gallery. Even now there are three crosses in front of the lighthouse, living memory of the ancient name of “Tre Crocette” (three crosses).