Location: at the crossing of via Sant’Abbondio and via Regina Teodolinda
Paving: asphalted road
Architectural barriers: narrow pavement – the parvis of the basilica, however, is sufficiently large
Access: great portal in the centre of the façade, with shutters; the visitor has to descend two steps to enter the church
Services: free parking along via Regina Teodolinda; fee parking in front of the cemetery of Como, some 300 mt. further on in via Regina Teodolinda towards the church of S. Rocco.
Food and Leisure: a couple of bars in via Sant’Abbondio.
The paleo-christian basilica of the Saints Apostles once stood on a significant location on the way from Como to Rome. Many bishops of Como where buried there, among them the greatest, Abbondio, patron saint of the city and its diocese. On his burial place, in the XI century, a Romanic style basilica with five naves was erected in his honour, in the XI century.
The new basilica belonged to a Benedictine monastery, in the spirit of the reform supported by the German emperors and inspired to German architecture. The pristine Romanic form was recuperated, though with some straining, in the restoration works performed by Serafino Balestra (since 1863), who rediscovered underground the first church, suppressed the structures added in the XV and XVI centuries (such as the vaults and the stucco decorations in the interior and the external frescoes of the XV century), and rebuilt the northern bell tower. The prestigious complex built in the early Middle Ages was removed, with its sculpted transennae and Romanic pulpit; their remains can still be observed in the Civic Museum of Como and in the chapel Lucini Passalacqua in Moltrasio. The altar piece of the early XVII century by G. B. Recchi (Saint Abbondio resuscitates the son of the magistrate) is in the counter-facade.
The apse is fully occupied by the shiny masterwork of the so-called Maestro di S. Abbondio, a cycle of frescoes depicted around the year 1320, and dedicated to the Infancy and Passion of Jesus Christ. In the lower register of the apse monochrome gold and sinopite frescoes with Bernardinian monograms were added, probably made by the family De Seregno.
Location: the church of S. Rocco is situated on the corner between via Regina Teodolinda and via Teresa Rimoldi
Architectonical barriers: no pavement; the street is not very trafficked
Access: from via Regina Teodolinda, ascending two steps
Services: see S. Abbondio
Food and leisure: newsstand on the opposite side in via Rimoldi. Various bars, pizzerie and small restaurants in the nearby via Milano
Once this church was a landmark for travellers coming from Milan, and a fixed passage for those coming from the Strada Regina.
The church of S. Rocco became a parish in 1920, but it originated as the oratory of a confraternity dedicated, among other activities, to assist the pilgrims.
Its dedication to Rocco, a pilgrim saint, reveals this function, justified by its collocation between the countryside and the city.
The altar-piece (1630) is noteworthy and can be relied to a famous work of Tintoretto, the Apparition of Saint Marco, now in the Academy of Brera, Milan.
It is magnificently framed by a XVII century golden woodpiece, and shows the saint, dressed as a pilgrim, walking leaning upon by a long stick, with the shell of Compostela pinned on his coat over two small crossed swords, symbolising Saint Peter and Paul, and the pilgrimage to Rome.
The scene is significantly set in an hospital, reproducing accurately the building of the ancient Ospedale Maggiore of Como.
According to the author of the present script, this, as well as other works of the brothers Recchi, proves their deep knowledge of the cycle of the Scuola Grande of S. Marco in Venice.
The six XVII century arches above the nave are dedicated as well to episodes of the saint’s life; they are, at least in part, close to the school of the Recchi brothers. Also worthy of interest are the carved stalls (1673) separated by telamons that symbolise various professions (not least the pilgrim), as well as the painting with the Saints Fermo and Offendente, to whom the angels bring the the palms of martyrdom (XVII century).
The church was enlarged in 1927-1931 besides the original nave, with an transect and an octagonal dome (ing. Catelli, arch. Codebò).
The painting of Saint Cristoforo, protector of voyagers, by Eliseo Fumagalli, bought in 1936, seems to confirm the important role of this church both from a religious and from a town planning standpoint. The same painter is the author of the decorations that cover the whole church and of the fresco (1945) depicting Saint Carpoforo and his companions, first martyrs of Como, with the castle Baradello in the background, that is located in the transect.
Hospital of S. Lazzaro
Location: via Teresa Rimoldi, between the church of S. Rocco and the railroad bridge, on the right
Paving: asphalted road
Architectural barriers: no pavement; however the road is not particularly trafficked
Access: the former church has long been a warehouse and cannot be visited; it is awaiting restoration since a long time
Services: see S. Rocco.
Food and Leisure: none
According to a tradition, an early temple dedicated to S. Lazzaro stood on the remains of some roman buildings at the beginning of via Rimoldi, just after the church of S. Rocco, where the ancient road from Como to Milan starts climbing uphill. The temple had been consecrated by Felice, first bishop of Como. However, there are no documents to prove this tradition. It is certain, instead, the presence of the hospital of S. Lazzaro in that place in 1192. The hospital was called “de mal sani” (of the sick people) because it was reserved to the leprous coming from Val Padana and bound northward. A church was annexed to the hospital, and restored in 1310 by Friar Pietro da Medasco.
At the end of the XVI century, the Bishop of Como Feliciano Ninguarda, in the Acts of his pastoral visit to the diocese of Como, states that the church had a single nave, flanked by a square-planned bell tower. The church was deconsecrated in 1799 and used by private citizens. Its current remains can be seen on the facade, which shows relics of an ogival arch, as well as a window surrounded by a marble frame showing alternate black and white bands.
The plaster of the facade was integrally removed in 1845, for superstitious reasons. The building, whose ground floor was then a warehouse and the first floor a private home, showed a fresco on its façade, probably made in the XVI century, depicting a “dance macabre”, an allegory of the equality of men in front of death.
At first, the fresco was cancelled with a whitewash; however, after the first thunderstorm it showed up again; therefore its destruction was decreed. A stone gravure of this fresco was made in 1828, and is now conserved in the Civic Archaeological Museum of Como.
Location: via San Carpoforo, on the right of the “Istituto San Carpoforo”
Paving: asphalted road at first, then cobbled street
Architectural barriers: none
Access: take the cobbled street on the right of the entrance to the “Istituto San Carpoforo” (private school, housed in the ground of the ancient monastery), to reach the entrance of the church, situated on the left nave. Opening hours are variable (see Path 3 Stage 1, deviation 1).
Services: parking is forbidden in the whole area surrounding S. Carpoforo, since it is reserved to the hospital nearby. It is possible to park before the complex in via Castel Baradello.
Food and Leisure: none
S. Carpoforo is a celebrated Romanic church with three naves, where Felice, the first bishop of Como, was buried.
It stands on a point of transit dedicated to Mercurius in Roman times, and can be entered only on its flanks, the façade having been built right against the hill. In 1040, by will of the bishop Litigerius, a Benedictine monastery was founded aside the church.
Ancient and modern restoration works have altered the church setting, especially in the interior; nevertheless, the visitor is fascinated by the very high gallery where the presbytery is placed, covering the crypt embellished by the sculptures of the capitals.
The uncommon position of the transect (suppressed at the end of the XVI century during the restoration works by G. A. Piotti, when also the cloister was modified) is difficult to explain, as well as some traces of former buildings, now visible close to the bell tower, which is placed on the right apse.
The simple texture of the bell tower, made in stone from Moltrasio, dates back to the XI century and is strikingly different from that of the apse, which shows alternated black and white bands, both internally and externally. The external decoration of the apse dates back to the XII-XIII century, while the interior was modified by subsequent restoration works.
S. Martino in Silvis*
* lost church
Location: via Castel Baradello
Paving: asphalted road
Architectural barriers: no pavement – the road enjoys very limited traffic
Access: the scarce remains of this church are encapsulated in the facade of a farmstead, once a restaurant, closed since about a decade. The access to the farmstead is fenced.
Food and Leisure: none
The small church dedicated to Saint Martino once stood in a place locally called “genoecc” (the knee), halfway between S. Rocco and the Baradello Castle. The denomination “in Silvis” (in the woods) given to the church is due both to the wood that covers the hill of Baradello, and to distinguish it from another church dedicated to the same Saint, placed in the plain, close to the river Cosia. The church had a small convent annexed, and was probably built in Romanic style.
Its existence is reported already in 1197, by a parchment mentioning the donation to the Hospital of S. Lazzaro of a zerbo (i.e. a waste land) situated right before this church. It has been confirmed that Black Friars stayed at S. Martino in Silvis in 1233, when they first reached Como, until the following year, when they moved to the much greater site of S. Giovanni in Pedemonte. Popular lore maintains that the body of the unfortunate lord of Milan Napo Torriani, after his death on August 12th, 1278 after nineteen months of imprisonment in the Baradello Castle, was dragged by his feet close to S. Martino in Silvis and buried there.
The history of the complex of S. Martino, right after the departure of the Black Friars, is unknown. The next mention of the church is dated 1511, when the Hyeronimic friars of S. Carpoforo (see point of interest) became owners of S. Martino and transformed it in a private home. Afterwards it became a crotto , and then it was enlarged to serve as a restaurant until its recent closure. The memory of the ancient church remains in the portal, made of stout granite jambs and crowned by a round arch that can be dated around the 12th century.
According to the tradition, in the surroundings, in the locality called Selvetta, the Saints Carpoforo Esanzio, Cassio, Severino, Secondo e Licinio where martyrized in the times of Massimiano Erculeo. Their companion Fedele managed to escape the martyrdom, only to suffer it later in the northern end of the lake of Como, the current lago di Mezzola. A great metal cross reminds us of these first martyrs of the church of Como.
Baradello Castle (Castel Baradello)
Location: via Castel Baradello
Paving: cart-road followed by a stairway
Architectural barriers: stairway with parapet
Access: from the siege of the Club “Amici del Baradello”, rise a stairway of sixty-six steps and enter the fortifications of the Baradello Castle. The tower can be visited with conducted tours in the summer; the whole area is currently under restoration in order to enable better access to the monument.
Services: see above
Leisure and Food: Baita Club Amici del Baradello (tel. 031 592805)
The ancient rock of the Baradello is gloriously standing on the top of the chain of hills called “la Spina Verde”. Its origin is still unclear: it has certainly been in existence since the XI century; though it was not built by Federico Barbarossa directly, the emperor stayed there after the battle of Legnano (1176), which was fought between the imperial army and the allied forces of the free communes of Lombardy. Considering the strategic interest of its position, it is likely that on the same site watchtowers and defence buildings had been present since the times of the Romans and in early Middle Age. Of the ancient castle, destroyed in 1527 by the Spanish governor De Leyva, remain only the tower and some ruined fortifications. After that, the surviving structures became property of the Hyerolomin Fathers of S. Carpoforo, who used them in support of the agricultural activities of their monastery. In 1773 the castle was expropriated by a decree of the Austrian empress Maria Teresa, and the castle, as well as the whole hill, was purchased by the Venino family of Milan, who owned it until 1873. In that year, it passed to Gabriele Castellini. In 1927 the entire area became property of the Commune of Como, according to the dispositions of the testament of Teresa Rimoldi, niece and heir of Mr. Castellini. In 1902 and in 1927 the first restorations were carried out, followed, in 1930, by the construction of a comfortable road and by the creation of the “Parco delle Rimembranze”, on the flank of the hill. After a period of degradation during the Second World War, the castle and the hill were trusted by the Commune of Como to the association Club Baradell, currently called “Amici del Baradello”, that since then is taking care of the conservation of the entire complex.
Tradition considers the Baradello an important symbol of the people of Como, as witness of its regained freedom: in 1277 the lord of Milan Napo Torriani, after the victory of Como over Milan, was imprisoned there.
In 1848, during the “Risorgimento”, the green-white-red Italian flag was exposed on its top.