Ossuccio, Path 1. A small island amidst great history and old walkways
The itinerary starts from the old Hospitale of S. Maria Maddalena in Ossuccio, originally a place where pilgrims and wayfarers could find hospitality. You then take a boat to reach the Comacina Island, the only island on Lake Como, inserted in a spectacular environmental context, the undisputed protagonist of Como’s history in the Roman and Medieval ages. A strategic base and military stronghold since the Roman times, to the point of being historically known as the “Castle”, across the centuries it witnessed clashes between Romans and Barbarians, Goths and Byzantines, Lombards and Byzantines, the Holy Roman Empire and the free towns. But, above all, it was one of the most important centres for the spread of Christianity in the Lake Como area and where one of the oldest parish churches of Como stood.
A fortress and a religious centre full of churches and monasteries, the Island saw the tragic end of its glory in 1169 when, as a result of joining forces with Milan against Como, an ally of emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, was attacked and conquered by the people of Como, who burnt and razed everything to the ground. Laid under an interdict by the Empire and the Church, it fell into ruin and oblivion. Its long decline ended in the past century, when it was rediscovered and made the subject of study and research.
The route allows an immersion into history to discover, step by step, the archaeological remains of its glorious past, including the Basilica of S. Eufemia parish church, the adjoining twin apse baptismal hall, the remains of the Benedictine monastery of Ss. Faustino and Giovita, plus the church of S. Giovanni Battista, whose seventeenth century reconstruction is linked to a legendary pilgrim, and the twentieth century Houses for Artists in rationalist style. The last stretch of the route, along the old Via Regina, takes you to the heart of the historic centre of Ossuccio, home of the church of S. Agata (formerly dedicated to St. Sisinnius) – where a Roman votive altar, dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century AD and dedicated to the Matrons and the genes of the pagus of Ausuciates is preserved – and then to the church of S. Giacomo, yet another small Romanesque gem, under the benevolent gaze of a great Saint Christopher, the patron saint of pilgrims and wayfarers, whose fresco hangs within the church.
Tappe del percorso
Punti di interesse
Hospitale (Hospice) and church of S. Maria Maddalena (St. Mary Magdalene), Antiquarium, Olive growing on Lake Como, Casa Torre (Tower House)*, Basilica of S. Eufemia (St. Euphemia)*, Church of S. Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), The Feast of St. John, Aula Battesimale Biabsidata (Twin Apse Baptismal Hall)*, Santuario della Beata Vergine del Soccorso (Shrine of Our Lady of Help) and Sacro Monte (Sacred Mount), Abbazia dell’Acquafredda (Acquafredda Abbey), Church of S. Maria col Portico (St. Mary with the portico)*, Church of S. Pietro in Castello (St. Peter at the Castle)*, Religoius complex of Ss. Faustino e Giovita (St. Faustinus and Jovita)*, Houses for Artists in Rationalist style, Villa Rachele, formerly Beccaria, The old Via Regina in Ossuccio, Church of S. Agata (St. Agatha), formerly of S. Sisinnio (St. Sisinnius), Church of S. Giacomo (St. James)
* building totally or partially in ruins
Point of departure Ossuccio, parking of the Antiquarium
Point of arrival Ossuccio, church of S. Giacomo
Path type urban route (stages 1 and 6); tourist-excursion mixed route (stages 2, 3, 4, 5).
Environment urban area, lake, hilly area
Total length approx. 3.1 km
Travel time on foot approx. 1.40 h (excluding visits and boat transfer to and from the island)
Difficulty tourist (stages 1 and 6); tourist-excursionist (stages 2, 3, 4, 5)
Access see single descriptions
Other recommended means of transport -
Overlapping / Intersections with other paths
to download further information about this path
We would like to thank Ms. Sara Monga, head of the Comacina Island tourist department, for her invaluable collaboration.
Further information on the path
Rise: approx. 115 m
Maximum height: 280 m
Paving: stone setts, cobbles, gravel, wooden ledges, concrete, dirt track, grass with occasional outcropping rocks and roots, asphalt
Public transport to the point of departure: bus service, boat (in the hamlet of Campo)
Public transport from the point of arrival: bus service, boat (in the hamlet of Campo)
Parking at the point of departure: yes
NOTE: the opening period of the Antiquarium with access to the Comacina Island is from March 15th to October 31st. For information on opening times and ticket prices: http://www.isola-comacina.it/info
Want to know more?
L. M. Belloni, L’Isola Comacina e la sua antica pieve, Casa editrice P. Cairoli, Como 1970.
M. Rossi, A. Rovetta, A. Spiriti, M.C. Terzaghi, Guide della Provincia di Como – Alpi Lepontine Meridionali, Amministrazione Provinciale di Como, Istituto per la Storia dell’Arte Lombarda, Nodo Libri, Como 1994.
P. Gatta Papavassiliou, Il Sacro Monte di Ossuccio. Guida alle Cappelle, Editoriale Giorgio Mondadori, Milano 1996.
M. Belloni Zecchinelli, L. M. Belloni Hospitales e Xenodochi. Mercanti e pellegrini dal Lario al Ceresio, Attilio Sampietro Editore, Menaggio 1997.
M. Di Salvo (a cura di), La chiesa di San Giacomo a Spurano di Ossuccio e i suoi restauri, Cesarenani, Lipomo 2004.
L. Cavadini, Architettura razionalista nel territorio comasco, Provincia di Como, Assessorato alla Cultura, Salin, Olgiate Comasco 2004
A. Marcarini, Il sentiero della regina. Dieci passeggiate da Como a Chiavenna, Lyasis, Sondrio 2005.
S. Fasana, A. Garancini, Sui passi dell’anima. Luoghi della devozione nel territorio lariointelvese, Comunità Montana Lario Intelvese, Bellavite Editore, Missaglia 2009.
A. Folonaro, S. Fasana, Sui passi di don Luigi Guanella. In cammino con il Santo tra Fraciscio e Como, Lyasis, Sondrio 2013.
Pieghevoli in distribuzione presso l’Antiquarium – Isola Comacina di Ossuccio.