The Walk of Laundresses
Setting: the Church of S. Giuliano, dedicated also to S. Ambrogio, patron saint of Milan, opens on a wide parvis in via Brambilla, on the corner of the crossing with via Maurizio Monti, at about 0.5 km from the Cathedral.
From Piazza del Duomo (see paths 1 and 2) walk by the south flank of the Cathedral, passing in front of the neoclassic façade of the Teatro Sociale (Piazza Verdi); at the end of this square, cross via Nazario Sauro on the pedestrian crossing, keep on your left, following the railway line, until you reach the level crossing; cross it and keep on the right, on pedestrian crossings first cross viale Lecco, then via Dante; turn right, in the direction opposite to the great white building of the Casa del Popolo (former Casa del Fascio). Once that you reach via Maurizio Monti, take it on your left and follow on until you reach the crossing with Via Brambilla on the left and S. Giuliano in front of you; from via Dante onwards you have been following backwards the Stage 1 of Path 4.
Architectural barriers: level crossing; steps to access the parvis and the church; on the parvis, scattered trees.
Access: before crossing the parvis, climb six small steps. Enter the church from the front door (another step up); another smaller entrance is situated on the right of the church in via Maurizio Monti (not suitable to wheelchairs, due to the high steps in front of the door). Warning: the parvis of the church is the only place reserved to pedestrians; all the other streets are subject to car traffic.
Services: a few time-parking places at the end of via Maurizio Monti in front of the Bank of Desio; other parking places in via Pessina (a parallel of via Maurizio Monti) with some place reserved to the disabled.
Food and Leisure: a bar in front of the parvis of the church, on the corner with via Maurizio Monti.
The monastery of S. Giuliano Ospitaliere in Pomario, to whom the church belonged, was founded by the Benedictine monks, and had an annexed Hospitium: towards the half of the XI century the monastery was reformed according to the Cluniac rule by the bishop Bennone, before entering decadence in the XIV and XV centuries. In its heyday the abbey was rich and powerful: the location, rich of water, was so heavily cultivated, as to be called “pomario” (orchard).
The present-day church is a baroque construction built between 1674 and 1679 and consecrated in 1683, by decision of the Augustinian nuns, who came here from Brunate in 1592. As soon as they arrived, the nuns saw to restore the cloister near the church, then passed to re-build the church itself.
The structure of the church is typical of the nuns’ churches of the baroque period, with the altar at the center, to separate the nuns from the people. The name of the architect is unknown, but some authors have suggested the names of Agostino Silva and Girolamo Quadri.
The façade is plain, while the interior is in the shape of a flared octagon, and keeps some works of a certain value. Most important are the stuccos of two artists representative of the period: Agostino Silva of Morbio (Tessin, Switzerland), who created the altar dedicated to S. Agostino, where the overlapping angels, like caryatids, create a spiral-like movement. The other artist, also from Tessin, is Giampiero Lironi di Vacallo, who sculpted four statues of Saints of the Augustinian order.
The main altar, built in polychrome marbles, is today leaning against the back wall; note the grid overlooking the table: behind it the nuns once watched the mystery of Elevation.
The church keeps valuable paintings: the two side altars contain the Presentation of the Virgin Mary to the Temple, dated 1685 and signed by Gregorio Lazzarini, and the Baptism of Saint Augustine, whose attribution is uncertain.
Among the paintings coming from the suppressed Franciscan convent of Santa Croce, the picture of Saint Pasquale Baylon, now attributed to Carlo Innocenzo Carloni, is noteworthy.
Over the smaller entrance on the left side, note the interesting modern stained glass window donated to the church by Mario Radice, an important painter from Como, exponent of the abstract art movement.
Some remains of arches and openings recently put into light show that the ancient church was situated closer to the hill of Brunate, and boasted three naves and a massive belltower situated at the end of the right nave, on which the modern tower has been super-elevated.
On the site of the former monastery stands the Ca’ d’Industria ONLUS, a recovery home for the elderly, that somewhat perpetuates in present times the ancient functions of the Hospitium.
Parish of S. Giuliano via Maurizio Monti 53, Como; Tel. 031.272079
Click here to know more about Saint Giuliano Ospitaliere
Hospital of S. Gottardo*
* building lost
Location: To reach the place where the Hospital of S. Gottardo and its church stood, at the beginning of via Maurizio Monti, start from the parvis of S. Giuliano and follow the way described in Path 4 – Stage 1. The complex stood more or less in the area now occupied by the Bank of Desio and the nearby houses.
Paving: asphalt and cobbled pavement (large stones, at the same level of the street).
Architectural barriers: pavement rather narrow. Car traffic, especially between via Lega Insurrezionale and the Bank of Desio.
Services: small paying time-parking; Cash dispenser; other places in the parallel via Pessina, with some places for the disabled.
Food and Leasure: small bars in via Monti.
The Hospital of S. Gottardo, dedicated to the saint German bishop patron of the alpine passes and of the related commerce, performed its function until its merger into the Major Hospital of S. Anna (1468). After that date, the administrators of the small hospital assigned it in 1533 to the care of San Gerolamo Miani who, with the help of Primo Del Conte and Bernardo Odescalchi, opened there the first orphanage of Como.
This enterprise, however, had a short lifetime, for lack of funding. The church instead continued to be used, as witnessed by the bishop Ninguarda in 1592.
The historian Primo Tatti tells us that, one century later, it had been deconsecrated, belonged to civilians and was used as a residential building.
In the XVII century the small church was still recognisable, thanks to the traces of a mural painting above the front door, depicting the Virgin Mary and S. Gottardo.
Nowadays there is nothing left of the church, or of the hospital of S. Gottardo.
Monastery of S. Lorenzo
Location: The monastery of S. Lorenzo stands at the end of via Maurizio Monti, on the left side coming from San Giuliano, almost at the corner with via Dante, in front of the placement of the ancient Hospital of S. Gottardo. Of the monastery, only the great cloister is left, placed on a level lower than the street; the volume of the church, transformed in a residential building, also persists.
Architectural barriers: none
Access: the building inglobating the ancient church is easily reachable. The access to the ancient cloister is instead more cumbersome due to the descent, the narrow entrance and the steps. Moreover, the effective entrance in the cloister is not possible, because the entrance is occupied by a point of first aid, with its parking of ambulances.
(Loreno Marazzi and Mariangela Sempio)
S. Lorenzo was an important and affluent nuns’ monastery; we do not know whether it followed the Cluniac or Cistercian rule. Neither the date of its foundation is certain. The most recent research works by the historians Mario Longatti and Saverio Xeres seem to agree upon an origin earlier than the year 1000. The first written documentation dates back to 1112. According to the historian Primo Tatti, the monastery was at first under the jurisdiction of the Canonists of the Cathedral, then, in the XV century, passed under the spiritual direction of the Augustinians, based in S. Agostino, even if the nuns were strict followers of the Benedictine rule.
The existence of the convent and of an early naves church is reported since the X century. The new church – in the shape of a cross, with a single nave and two side chapels, was completed before 1594. When the convent was suppressed in 1784, the various paintings by Procaccini and Cerano that decorated the church were dispersed. the buildings were all radically transformed and destined to private housings.
Nowadays, transformed and super elevated with two floors, is completely unrecognisable from the outside, the only sign of the former church being a frieze on the west façade looking towards via Dante.
On the side of the church stood the coenobium, built according to the Benedictine style, with a well in the centre of the courtyard.
The monastery was dissolved in 1784 according to an imperial decree. The complex was given in use to Carlo Scalini, a silk manufacturer, who, once the church was deconsecrated, built two more floors and destined it to private flats.
After various changes of ownership, in 1887 the complex was bought by the nurse nuns of the Addolorata, who are the present owners, and have their seat in the nearby hospital Valduce.
What is left of the XVI century buildings that constituted the monastery is a cloister with three sides on two floors, heavily degraded.
Church and convent of S. Antonio
Setting: the complex of S. Antonio stands on the left side of via Rezzonico for the visitor who comes from Piazza del Popolo, at about 200 m from the former monastery of S. Lorenzo. From S. Lorenzo, reach Piazza del Popolo and stay always on your right, heading for the great white building of the former Casa del Fascio. Cross via Pessina, and, after a few meters in via Manzoni, at the traffic light turn right in via Rezzonico; after about 50 m you will see on your left the scaffolded church of the XIV century complex of S. Antonio.
Paving: asphalt; in front of the Casa del Fascio great slabs of travertine.
Architectural barriers: iron delimiters of carriage way close to Piazza del Popolo.
Access: from via Rezzonico, enter the area of the former convent through a wide carriage way passing in front of the church and then entering the former cloister of the convent. On the south-east side the area is fenced and the traces of old buildings are still readable; on the north-west, instead, modern buildings have closed the area and do not enable to see the ancient remains.
Other monuments nearby: in Piazza del Popolo, the imposing white mass that closes the square on the right is the former Casa del Fascio, current seat of the local headquarters of the Revenue Guard Corp. This outstanding example of the Rationalist movement is the masterpiece of the architect Giuseppe Terragni, who was born in Como. It can be visited upon request.
Services: all the main bus lines, both urban and extra-urban, stop in Piazza del Popolo. 400 m on, in via Manzoni-Largo Leopardi, find the railway station “Como Lago” of the Ferrovie Le Nord.
Fee parking in via Pessina and via Rezzonico, with some places reserved for the disabled.
Food and Leisure: bars and restaurants in Piazza del Popolo and via Rezzonico.
The complex was founded in 1217 as an hospital dedicated to Ss. Silvestro and Tommaso for the care of poor sick people, by will of Guglielmo Della Torre, bishop of Como.
It was trusted to the regular canonicals of Torello (an alpine and lonely place close to Lugano, Switzerland). In 1270 it became a priory and started to be managed by the Fathers of S. Anthony of Vienne, who changed its dedication to S. Anthony, the Abbot.
In 1426, after a long litigation with the monastery about the ownership of the earnings from some grounds in S. Giuliano in Pomario, Bossi, the bishop of Como, took the complex away from the Fathers and assigned it to the Franciscans.
When the hospitals of Como were consolidated in 1468, this hospital was suppressed, while the church and the convent were assigned to a commendatory abbot until the end of the XVI century. In 1593 the Carmelitans set themselves in Como, taking the ownership of the church of S. Pietro in Atrio, inside the city walls.
However, that place being too small, the Abbot of S. Anthony Ulpiano Volpi offered this site to the Carmelitans in 1596. The Carmelitans took the charge of building a new church and a new convent, apt to host an elevate number of friars.
Therefore, the convent of S. Antonio entered a period of splendour, until the beginning of the XVIII century, when charity and other earnings started to fall.
The priory started to be neglected, and the number of friars diminished. In 1772 the convent was suppressed. Three years later the place was deconsecrated and eventually closed.
The complex was first transformed in college, then in private homes.
During the last century, the old church became at first the seat of the Young Amateurs’ Dramatic Circle, then the cinema of the Società Impiegati (the Clerks’ Club).
Afterwards, it alternated “red lights” and film club picture shows.
At present, it’s hosting a school of modern dance, while awaiting a long deserved restoration.
Click here for Casa del Fascio of Como
Church and convent of S. Agostino
Location: the complex of S Agostino is situated in Piazza Amendola, at the end of via Brambilla. Coming from the ancient convent of S. Antonio, turn left on via Rezzonico and keep on till the crossing with vi a Brambilla; then turn left in via Brambilla until you reach Piazza Amendola and S. Agostino.
Paving: pavement, asphalt.
Architectural barriers: the steps to access S. Agostino.
Access: the access to the church is uphill, with a eight-step stairway and handrail. To reach the church without climbing the steps, turn right just after the church, walk along via Torno for a few meters and take the ramp on your right.
The portal of Sant’Agostino is framed by stone slabs decorated with bas-relief vine-shoots and flowers that it is possible to touch.
Services: bus stops in Piazza Amendola. A few parking places, all for a fee. A cash dispenser in Piazza Amendola.
Leisure and food: at about 200 m (in the area of Piazza Matteotti, and in the vicinity of the lake) hotels, restaurants, landing stages of Navigazione Laghi, Funicolare (cable-car) Como -Brunate, Bus terminal, train station (Ferrovie Nord).
(Alberto Rovi and Ambra Garancini)
This arcipretal church is dedicated to the Saints Agostino and Antonino Martire.
The dedication to Saint Agostino is due to its foundation by Augustinian friars coming from Civiglio, close to Brunate; the dedication to Saint Antonino Martire is explained by the memoir of the suppressed parish church of the same name, once located in the nearby via Coloniola (see Stage 2). The church of S. Agostino was founded in the year 1300 on a piece of ground donated to the Augustinian friars by the affluent family Pioppi; this was the third church dedicated to the mendicant orders, after S. Francesco (Franciscan) and S. Giovanni Pedemonte (Dominicans); with these other two churches S. Agostino went to constitute a symbolic urban triangle circling the city – a common feature in the age of the Italian city-states.
S. Agostino is the only church and convent complex in Como that survived almost complete after its suppression, together with S. Cecilia, where the monastery was transformed in the classical grammar school of Como.
Some attempts at property speculation, unfortunately, succeeded in demolishing the east wing of the main cloister with the annexed chapter room, before being stopped.
The Gothic facade, until the early ’90s still painted in yellow , simulating stones, has recently been renovated (1995) recovering what should have been its former look, tripartite by pillars decorated in tri-color bands red , black and white.
The white and light red marble portal bears grapevines in relief, plus a fresco in the lunette of the end of ‘400, attributed to Andrea de ‘Passeri, with the effigies of The Virgin with Saints Augustine, Monica (mother of Augustine) Nicholas of Tolentino and Chiara of Montefalco.The cult of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Augustinian (very strong in Civiglio, a small village close to Brunate) and of the St. Chiara of Montefalco, also Augustinian, reaffirm the ties that bind this church to the Augustinian communities of Brunate / Civiglio. The round window in the center of the facade is wooden and was created in the nineteenth century.
The interior has three wooden covered naves and boasts the spaciousness of the preachers’ churches, with the remains of frescoes of the XIV century in the triumphal arch and apse: also of the XIV century are the votive paintings on the pillars and on the side of the outside cloister. The three chapels of the apse, including the presbytery, have ribbed ogival vaults. Also vaulted are the six chapels on the left side, some of which contain beautiful works of 600. The second chapel is a masterpiece, dedicated to Our Lady of the Belt, decorated with paintings and frescoes by Francesco Mazzucchelli said Morazzone (1612). The Deposition of Christ of F. I. Torriani is in the third chapel, once belonging to the noble Somigliana, and frescoed by Pietro Bianchi. The fourth (S. Nicola da Tolentino) and fifth (Holy Family) were also decorated in early ‘600. The last one is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. In the first chapel is venerated the statue of St. Antonio Abate, that came from the deconsecrated church of S. Antonio in via Rezzonico. On January 17th, the feast of St. Antonio appeals motorists for the blessing of their cars, in substitution of the ancient blessing of the animals. The churchyard is selling the typical pampare (bamboo sticks decorated with coloured paper circles and rich of small gifts for the children). A painting of Marco d’Oggiono was dispersed; a Madonna and Saints by Simone Peterzano and the altar piece of S. Antonino are on the south wall .
Next to the church can still be visited on request the remains (two cloisters and refectory) of the Augustinian convent, which flourished in the ‘400 and was abolished in 1772 following the reforms by the empress of Austria Maria Teresa. The cloisters were partially rebuilt in the sixteenth century and still have some fragments of frescoes; the adjacent Refectory bears an interesting Cenacle of St. Augustine with his brother (1620) attributed to Gian Paolo Recchi.
Parish of Saint Agostino and Saint Antonino piazza Amendola, Como; Tel. 031.300217
Riva del Voo and Point of Geno
Location: the Point of Geno closes from the right side the first basin of the lake separating it from the second, offering a stunning panorama, which includes the other side and the point of Cernobbio. To reach it from the square of the Funicolare, continue along the lakeside promenade on the right (passing under two arches with the faded sign “Park City Regina Margherita “) or on the left, just beside the lake. The alley here takes the name of Viale Geno.
Once in Villa Geno, due to the current closure of the area by the lake in front of the villa, it is convenient to pass beyond and continue on the right until you reach the square Felice Baratelli, close to the ancient dock of Villa Geno, where you can admire a vast panorama of the first basin of Lake Como.
Paving: pedestrian walks both on the left and on the right side of Viale Geno. When arriving from the left, descend a step to reach the gravelled area that leads to the Villa. Asphalted road with no sidewalk from Villa Geno to Piazza Baratelli.
Architectural barriers: the road to Piazza Baratelli has no sidewalk.
Access: the point of Geno is occupied by the complex of Villa Geno, now a restaurant, which can be accessed easily with a single step. In front of the Villa, the point is occupied by a large fountain, the access to which is at the moment (2010) closed.
Services: at the end of Viale Geno public toilets on the right , just after the bar. In the area close to Piazza Baratelli have their seat some Associations (Como Nuoto, Como Sub, Diving Center Como, FIPSAS, FIAS – Civil Defence, Proteus, Kajak Club) engaged in the promotion of water sports.
Food and Leisure: hotels, restaurants and bars along the lakeside promenade, restaurant and hotel in Villa Geno, public beach near Villa Geno. Como Nuoto has an open swimming pool opened during the summer. To access it you must be a member of the association or be a guest of another member.
(Lorenzo Marazzi and Ambra Garancini)
The Lungo Lario Trieste, which is the first part of the road that leads to the Point of Geno, was built in the late nineteenth century, simultaneously with the creation of the pier of S. Agostino, destined to the landing of the commercial boats called comballi. The new road linked together a comb-shaped series of small alleys leading down to the shore of the lake and terminating in various docks .
The entire shore from the railway station “Como lago” of the local LeNord line to the lower station of the cable car (funicolare) to Brunate, was popularly called Riva di brutt (“shore of the ugly”) for the presence of longshoremen, tough characters of rather roughish manners. The official name was, however, Riva del Voo , perhaps derived from the Latin word Vadum (ford): this was one of the main commercial hubs of the city, with its bustling activities of intensive fishing, lake transport, cleaning and treatment of yarns and fabrics. After the cable car station the avenue is called Viale Geno, and leads to the tip of Geno (formerly Zeno).
In this place, in the XIII century arose a Home of the Umiliati friars, adjoining a church, dedicated to S. Clement, and a hospital. The Umiliati managed the complex until 1461, when the Deanery of Como decided to place him under the responsibility of the Hospital of S. Martino of Zezio, also managed by Umiliati but under the patronage of the Cathedral of Como. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the complex of S. Clemente was merged into the main hospital of Como and reserved to the victims of the plague; this assignment continued also in the next century. In memory of this, until a few decades ag,o the town was named Ca’ di mort (house of the dead) and the fishermen rowing in front of the point of Geno used to cross themselves. In the XVIII century, once that the threat of pests faded, the place became property of the Marquess Menafoglio Ghilini, who began to make it a residential dwelling . At the beginning of the nineteenth century the property passed to the Marquis Cornaggia Medici, who in 1850, according to the design of the prestigious architect Giacomo Tazzini, creator of the gardens of Villa Reale in Monza, rebuilt the building in its current form, and created a magnificent garden , now unfortunately largely destroyed, and connected the villa to the city with the first road on the lake.
The villa, now known as Villa Geno, became property of the municipality of Como in the early twentieth century and was then converted into a restaurant.
Chapel of the Nosetta
Location: the Chapel is located where via della Madonnetta, the small street that starts climbing on the left of the lower station of the Funicolare Como-Brunate, reaches via Torno (provincial road from Como to Bellagio). The Chapel can be reached also from via Torno, that starts on the left of the Church of S. Agostino, or through a steep climb from Viale Geno (the alley that links the Funicolare with the Point of Geno).
Paving: asphalt or stone steps. Pavement in via Torno.
Architectural barriers: steps. Some manholes. No handrails, except in parts of via Torno.
Access: the interior of the chapel is closed, but is visible from the street.
Services: benches in via Torno, a few steps from the Chapel of the Nosetta. Public transports in via Torno and Piazza Funicolare (Piazza De Gasperi) (cable car to Brunate). Fee parking places in Piazza Funicolare.
Leisure and Food: restaurants and bars in Piazza Funicolare (Piazza de Gasperi)
Related monuments: the inferior station of the Funicolare Como-Brunate (1895, successively restored and enlarged) well recognisable by its characteristic wooden façade in the style of alpine huts (possibly evocating the mountain landscapes above Brunate).
At the end of via Madonnetta, which once was the prolongation of via Coloniola and, until the end of the XIX century, the only carriage road link from the Riva del Vòo and Bellagio, stands a Chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary. The place is called Nosetta in memory of the high number of walnut trees that once were to be found here; the laundresses of the area of San Giuliano in Pomario used to pull threads from one tree to another to put up their laundry to dry.
The Chapel crowns the small street, and is placed on a private ground once owned by the marquis Cornaggia Medici, who also owned Villa Geno.
The Chapel is closed on the front by a door with an iron-decorated railing; on the left flank note a stone, placed inside the wall, with a slot and the writing “limòsina” (archaic word for donation).
Inside the chapel you can see an altar table underneath a fresco representing the Virgin of the Rosary between Saint Francesco and Saint Domenico (a typical iconographic scheme of the Diocese of Como).
The chapel was reconstructed at the end of the XVIII century, in sign of recognition when a landslide, caused by the small ravine nearby, failed to overthrow the houses of the boatmen and laundresses that dwelled the area.
In 1836, during a severe epidemy of cholera, the laundresses, workers who were particularly exposed to the contagion, took the vow to go in procession once a year to the Madonna of the Nosetta. That vow is still observed today on the evening of the second Sunday in July.