Basilica of the SS. Annunciata (Most Holy Annunciation)
Location: the Basilica is separated from viale Varese by a large forecourt enclosed by chains but easily accessible by pedestrians. The façade, facing eastwards, takes up the centre of the forecourt; two large porticos on either side of the façade lead to the side entrances.
Barriere architettoniche: –
Access: the access to the Basilica is by two side doors, north and south, each protected by a portico to welcome pilgrims. The front door is usually closed; it is opened only on solemn occasions, such as the Holy Week procession.
Services: almost in front of the Basilica there’s a newsagent; approx. 200 m northwards, on a parallel street, the local offices of the Lombardy Regional Council.
Leisure and Food: along viale Varese, north of the Basilica, there are bars, cafes and some restaurants.
Orario di apertura: 6.30 – 11.45, 15.30 – 18.45
The Shrine of Christ Crucified is flanked by two porticos startitng to the back of the main doors which were completed by arch. Luigi Fontana in 1863. By adding these wings Fontana modified noticeably the overall look of Luigi Canonica’s (1824) two tier late neoclassical front, a souvenir of the lost front by arch. Carlo Francesco Silva (1716-1731), with bronzes by Siccardi (19th Cent.), dominated by Giuseppe Bayer’s group of the Annunciation to which the church was first dedicated. The Confraternity who took care of the miraculous wooden Crucifix was in fact dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation. The church, erected in the 14th Century, was originally dedicated to St. Peter Celestine (portrayed in glory in a wooden sculpture of the 17th Century in counter façade) and was connected to a Celestine monastery. It was originally managed by the Confraternity, which remained there also after the monks abandoned it and it became a parish (1654). The church, as was the custom, was orientated in the opposite direction to the present one, until 1627, when its plan was modified and the two side chapels, one dedicated to the Crucifix, the other to the Virgin Mary, were added to it. The great baroque ossuary, memento of the plague, which preceded the left entrance, at the end of the Gallery of the Miracles, has now lost its grandeur. This gallery is called of the Miracles because it is full of painted ex-voto, disgracefully cut down to fit them into one long frame. The space inside the church is decorated with baroque and neobaroque frescoes and stuccos (including frescoes by Gersam Turri and Mario Albertella, 19th and 20th Century), a harmonious result of the extensions which took place between the 17th and the 19th Century. The addition of the apsidal transept by Antonio Nolfi and Giulio Galliori (1761) was followed by the raising of the nave (Luigi Tatti, 1845-53). The first chapel on the left (paintings by G. Turri) is dedicated to Saint Girolamo Miani, founder of the Order of the Somaschi, rectors of the Sanctuary. The baptismal font, with a walnut lid by the Monza Artigianelli is opposite, together with a fresco by Onorato Andina (1870).
The second chapel on the left was looked after by the Fathers and originally it hosted the Crucifix. The altar ancona in polychrome marbles is by Carlo Buzzi (1638-1649), architect of the Duomo in Milan, the stuccos of the dome with Angels and Symbols of the Passion are by Francesco Sala (1638), the lower stuccos are by Francesco Rusca (1648), and the paintings, restored in the 19th Century, are by G. Paolo Recchi (1649). Frescoes and paintings by Carlo Innocenzo Carloni, aided by Carlo Giuseppe de Vincenti and Domenico Dobler (1725), may be admired in the chapel of the Virgin Mary; the marble statue of the Immaculate derives from a Saint Margaret by G. B. Bianchi from Argegno (1666).
Four monumental statues in glossy stucco of Kings and Prophets, by Stefano Salterio from Laglio (1785 ca.), stand in the middle of the transept. The painting of the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence by Nuvolone (17th Century), now in the chapel symmetrical to the sacresty, used to be on the left altar, before being substituted by a statue of Saint Joseph. A painting of the Martyrdom of Saint Peter, copy of the one painted by Titian, comes from the church of St. Giovanni Pedemonte. The belltower is by Francesco Brachetto (1694).
Basilica of the SS. Annunciata viale Varese 23; tel. 031.265180
Crucifix of the Miracle
Collocation: the Crucifix of the Miracle is located on the main altar of the Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation, beside two angels holding broken chains. It is accessible and approachable only during the Holy Week. When it is exposed to be kissed by the people, during the Holy Week, it is placed on a stand in the presbytery, imitating a Calvary, and can be reached by two specially made ramps.
The miraculous Crucifix, originally kept inside the second side chapel on the left and at present detached from its original cross, dominates the church from the templet on the main altar of the Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation and every year, during the Holy Week functions, it is carried in procession and exposed to be kissed by the people. The original cross is now kept inside a golden reliquary in the northern chapel of the presbytery and exposed in the old chapel during Holy Week.
The history of the Crucifix is connected to the jubilee pilgrimages, in particular to the Jubilee of the year 1400. Tradition has that it was a gift from a group of French Romean pilgrims who arrived in Como in the year 1401.
This group, who travelled from the Cathedral of St. Denis, near Paris, brought with them two crucifixes and an image of the Virgin Mary, as was the custom for penitent pilgrims. On their way back from Rome, where they had gained their indulgences for the jubilee, they donated them. The first crucifix was left in Florence, the image of the Virgin Mary in Bologna, and the second crucifix in Como, where the pilgrims had found hospitality in the Oratory of Our Lady of the Annunciation, run by the Celestinian Fathers.
The Crucifix was entrusted to the Confraternity known as “Consorzio dei Disciplini” or “Scuola della Beata Vergine Maria Annunciata”, which, during the Holy Week, started the tradition of the “visit to the Seven Sepulchres”, taking the precious Crucifix in procession. The night of Holy Thursday in the year 1529, when Como was under Spanish rule, the Brothers of the Disciplini found the bridge on the river Cosia blocked by two big chains, one on top of the other. Following a refusal to remove them, the Disciplini tried to cross the bridge by tilting the Crucifix. It turned out to be unnecessary as the big ring fixed to the wall in order to sustain the chain fell down. All that were there said this was a miracle.
Basilica of the SS. Annunciata viale Varese 23; tel. 031.265180
Antico Ospedale S. Anna (former St. Anne’s Hospital)
Location: lthe former St. Anne’s Hospital, now Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi”, is located at the beginning of via Cadorna.
To reach it, starting from the façade of the Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation, take to the right, proceeding within the forecourt, and, after 25 m, cross the heightened zebra crossing with flashing traffic lights of the street lateral to the Basilica; then cross viale Varese at the pedestrian crossing traffic lights and join the pedestrian path that runs along viale Varese beside the ancient walls. Pass the newsagent crossing the cobbled street on the left (mind the cars). Keep walking for about 200 m along the pedestrian path and then turn left in viale Cattaneo. Continue for approx. 30 m and cross via Cattaneo at the (request push-button) traffic lights on the right and take via Cadorna, where, on the right, after 50 m, you will find the former Hospital.
Paving: aasphalt, cobbles, porphyry cubes
Architectural barriers: Ithe first crossing is made easier by the heightened surface; on the other hand, crossing viale Varese is quite difficult; along viale Cattaneo, which runs beside the southern end of the ancient walls, a large sidewalk offers a quiet pedestrian zone where the street market takes place three times a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays). The surface of this sidewalk is made of porphyry cubes. The sidewalk on via Cadorna does not create major problems (approx. 1.5 m wide).
Access: sthe Conservatory is accessed by a front door without barriers, looking directly onto via Cadorna.
The building of St. Anne’s Hospital, in the 15th Century, is part of the foundation of the so-called “Main Hospitals” (Ospedali maggiori), public assistance institutions to which, from that century onwards, all revenues of existing hospitals were redirected and which had the task of reorganizing and regulating public health and assistance. In Como, as a result of the preaching of the Franciscan father Michele Carcano, backed by bishop Branda Castiglioni, these tasks were assigned to the new Hospital of St. Anne’s, which received the revenues of the many small hospitals scattered around the town and its surroundings. This operation was authorized in 1468 by a bull from pope Paul II, which was later ratified by a bull from pope Sistus IV in the year 1483.
St. Anne’s Hospital, located outside the city walls near Torre di Porta Nuova, had originally a T type plan, a simpler version of Ospedale Maggiore (“Ca’ Granda”) in Milan, designed by Filarete and presently home of the University of Milan.
The new hospital in Como had four quadrangles and a cloister with superimposed orders of identical arches. It was immediately furnished with works of art, in particular with polychrome windows, which unfortunately have been entirely lost. In 1609 a wooden celing and frescoes by the Carpanos were added to the church and, after various additions and changes which took place in the 17th and 18th Centuries, a fourth wing was added to the building in the 19th Century. At this point in time the Hospital started to expand giving shelter to abandoned children, for whom the “ruota degli esposti” already existed.
During the first part of the 19th Century a few plans for refurbishment and functional improvement were made, but it soon became clear that the best solution was to move the entire complex. In 1932 the Hospital was moved to Camerlata, right on the main road connecting Como and Milan, in the new premises built on the land donated by Teresa Rimoldi, where it still stands today.
The old hospital buildings deteriorated quickly, leading to the demolition of most of the units. They were replaced by new roads and buildings for public use. The remaining units were assigned to the Fire Brigade, which used them as their headquarters. When they left, in 1961, the building underwent restoration work paid by Como City Council and it then became a school for music.
The music courses started in 1982, when the former Hospital of St. Anne’s, or rather, what still remained of it, became part of Milan’s Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi”.
At present, only the small cloister, the church, the remains of the front and parts of the vault and of doors and windows, now walled up, are still visible.
Conservatory of Como via Luigi Cadorna 4, Como; Tel. 031.279827
Click here to see Foto d’archivio dell’antico Ospedale
Clicca qui per Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi”: official website
Church of S. Bartolomeo (St. Bartholomew)
Collocation: the Parish Church of St. Bartholomew opens out on the intersection between via Milano and via Cadorna, on the old path that from the south led to the main city gate. On our route one arrives to the church from via Cadorna: while keeping on the sidewalk on the right-hand side, walk along via Cadorna until you reach via Milano, after approx. 400 m. Cross via Milano at the traffic lights at the end of the road, reach the other side then turn left; the church is approx. 25 m away, and, on the right, you’ll find the Ring of the Miracle.
Architectural barriers: via Cadorna is slightly uphill. Shops and houses may partially obstruct the sidewalk with placards or, at the time of collection, with garbage bags. Chains prevent the crossing of via Milano other than at the traffic lights.
Access: access to the Church is by the main portal, after climbing three steps. The Ring of the Miracle is within easy reach, and touching it is not prohibited.
Services: bus stops: in via Milano, 100 m on the right facing the front of church, after crossing viale Giulio Cesare (at the traffic lights); in via Milano 200 m on the left facing the front of the church, after crossing via Rezia and via XX Settembre (at the traffic lights). There is a post office on the left of the square (between via Cadorna and via Milano).
Parking for the disabled: 15 m after the intersection with via Croce Rossa, in via Croce Rossa and at number 53 of via Cadorna.
Leisure and Food: snack bars and restaurants along via Cadorna and via Milano.
The parish church of St. Bartholomew, the third largest in Como after the Cathedral and the Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation, is located at the crossing between via Milano and via Cadorna. Its two order neoclassical front is made of carved cement (ing. Giulio Valli, 1928), and closes the nave built by Antonio Nolfi (1779-86), and painted by Antonio Rinaldi from Tremona with the Ascension. The front fits well with the eclectic architectural solution of transept, apse and lantern which were added to the church in 1899 by E. Linati, G. Salvioni, E. Rossetti, and Father Locatelli, at the time when G. B. Scalabrini, the apostle of the emigrants, later bishop of Piacenza, was prior. The original church dedicated to Saint Bartholomew was located further north; from the 12th Century it served the hospital of the Crociferi (monks of the Holy Cross), and was absorbed by the Hospital of St. Anne’s in 1481. The altar piece in this older church was the Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew by Iacopo Palma il Giovane (16th – 17th Century), now on the first altar on the right of the new church. Right opposite you will find the altar piece with the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, accredited to Domenico Carpinoni (17th Century), a reminder of the old church of St. Sebastian, which stood slightly to the south of St. Bartholomew, near the bridge on the river Cosia. A “small cloister” made of pillars coming from the convent of St. Clare was built on that ground. From what once was the church of the convent, on the opposite corner of the quadrivial crossroads between via Milano and via Roosevelt, comes also the majestic baroque granite portal enclosing the small cloister and looking onto via Milano near the corner of St. Bartholomew, where the ring of the chain of 1529’s miracle of the Crucifix is still hanging. Inside the church there’s a painting of Saints Rocco, Catherine and Agnes contemplating Our Lady of the Assumption, by Giulio Cesare Procaccini, which was also originally in St. Clare, facing another painting, the Nativity by Antonio Maria Crespi Castoldi known as Bustino. Near the Southern side entrance, in addition to a small fresco of Mary with Child, you will find the altar piece with Mary and Saints Adalbertus, Gervasius and Protasius, accredited to the Carpanos (16th and 17th Century), and surrounded by the Scenes from the life of Saint Adalbertus, the 15th bishop of Como, which comes from the church of St. Protasius (via Anzani), now demolished.
As said, there is some uncertainty regarding the author of the altar piece. It is also unclear who made the beautiful carved tabernacle on the main altar, that was painted by the school of the Rodari’s and which resembles the Frog’s Door of the Cathedral: the difference here is that the frog is not damaged.
Parish of S. Bartolomeo via Milano 161, Como; Tel. 031.272618
Click here for the website of Website of the Parish of S. Bartolomeo and S. Rocco