Tag Archives: Destinations of the Como lake

Villa Monastero, one of the most beautiful villas of the Como Lake

At the beginning of the enchanting village of Varenna there is Villa Monastero, a beautiful building that holds artistic and architectural treasures, as well as an amazing gardens, and which is reflected in the calm waters of the lake

The History of Villa Monastero

Built on the ruins of a Cistercian monastery (based on the legend the nuns were transferred here because they were used to a “too joyous behaviour”), it was restored several times until it became a place of holidays between 1500 and 1600, with the acquisition by the family Mornico; among the whole building the little church was kept public to allow observants to use it.

Lelio Mornico, son of Paolo, who bought the property, made some changes and the villa was so called Leliana

Then it passed to other owners that brought several changes until finally Walter Erich Jacob Kees made those changes, both to the villa and the garden, who has given the property the aspect that it has now: He built up the 3 arches loggia, a dock in the northern area, the small temple, fountains, the kafee-haus, and he furnished the internal area.

Villa Monastero

He owned the property for a short period of time because the government confiscated it.

At the end the building passed in the hands of Marco de Marchi, who donated it, and everything was inside it, in public hands after his death.

Open to visitors during the 1940 it was then changed into a congress centre and in the 1954 one of the rooms was entitled to Enrico Fermi; in the 1977 it became part of the properties of the National Council of research and is now managed by the Lecco Province.

Visit to the Villa

Just passed the ticket office you have access to the beautiful park; walking on the boulevard you can admire the breath-taking view: the beautiful lake and the towns washed by its waters; in short you can admire there exotic plants, flowers, fountains and discover views before being in front of the entrance of the villa

Let’s go inside Villa Monastero

Crossing the threshold, the atrium floor gets your attention as it still is the original seventeenth-century floor wanted by Mornico; carefully observing the tiles you can admire its three-dimensional effect before staring at the imposing staircase made with the black marble of Varenna, the red and yellow one of Verona, the white one of Carrara and some peach blossoms. Here are proudly displayed the painted majolica panels depicting portraits of philosophers, musicians, artists and German scientists, as well as some large stuccos and two bronze lamps.

Villa Monastero

Among the rooms you can visit the south-east one (or room Kennedy), reserved for Carlotta Kees and characterized by some vintage furniture (chests of drawers, a clock, the candlesticks, the prie-dieu, the chair, the table and some paintings), the parlour placed on the side, the striking black room with its beautiful Varenna’s black marble fireplace and its Flemish tapestry, the red room with its neo-rococo furniture, the white marble fireplace and the eighteenth century tapestry, the Mornico  parlour, the master bedroom, the music room with two beautiful baby grand pianos, the living room with oriental furnishings and references to the Japanese style, as well as conference rooms and board ones.

What is astonishing is the bathroom, also called “bath of King Farouk “. Made in Pompeian style, with references to the Japanese style, it has a blue and pale blue tiled tub with steps, which are located next to marble obelisks. Embellished with panels depicting mermaids, merfolk and other elements that recall the marine life, it is preceded by a room with a toilet, a bidet, a coffee table, a wardrobe and an armchair.

Villa Monastero Re Faruk

Villa Monastero’s Garden

The visit to the gardens continues with ups and downs among palms, dragon trees, citrus trees, oleanders, rare and exotic plants; during the visit you can admire statues, fountains, artfully placed vases and temples; to rest, in addition to the comfortable benches scattered along the way, there is a small café that offers customers some seating overlooking the lake.

Villa Monastero Giardino

Visit the Villa: already from the start of the tour, just behind the ticket office, there are beautiful flowerbeds that offer amazing shows in springer time; Looking at right instead the view is fashinating watching the clear waters extending to Bellagio and more.

Vista da Villa Monastero

At a first stage we meet the little temple built by Kees, sculptures and fountains, then finally there is also the loggia.

The walking through the garden always gives surprise for the panorama and the botanic species alongside the boardwalk both on the left and right end side; the wonderful tour through plants flowers and fruits ends with visit to the Kaffe-Haus, view point on the amazing and unique panorama.

Accessibility

Within the area of Villa Monastero, people with moving problems is able to move safely and without any problem to the Museum Home; po get to the House there is the option of an electric shuttle while inside all the existing architectural barriers have been removed where possible to be substituted by elevators and ramps.

Villa Monastero gradini

The gardens are just partially accessible anyway because the second half of them are full of stairs and steps that make the access really difficult. Hide Keyboard

What to do and see in Argegno

Travelling along the Statale Regina, looking at the wonderful panorama offered by the lake, here is Argegno, nice village hiding very real pearls. In the centre of the town there is a comfortable parking where leaving the car and move to discover the beauties of the place.

But what can be seen in Argegno?

In a few steps it is possible to reach the centre where, around a fountain, there are restaurants, cafes and also a winery; meeting the place there is instead the historical area made of nice alleys, strict houses one placed on the other, porticos and suggestive glimpses.

The centre of Argegno

In the centre there is the Medieval Area, the oldest one, while in the upper area there is the most recent and modern town. In the lower area it is a jump in the past, walking down through Vicolo Mulini where, in the past, there was a small river, known as Roggia Molinara, that allowed to drive the waters of the Telo River to give energy to 4 mills to grind wheat and chestnuts.

Argegno

The mills, still existing, today are private houses.

In Argegno there are a lot of things to see; going towards the riverside there is the area of the factories and then it is possible to walk down to the Romanic Bridge still well preserved. From the bridge it is possible, over the road passing through the village, to enjoy the wonderful lake view where the blue waters contrast to the colours of the mountains around.

Argegno Ponte

Going forward in discovering the village it is possible to reach the mouth of the River Telo and to the small pier with 2 docks, were boats seem to be anxious to leave through the lake again. In the same area there is the beach club and the Church of the Santissima Trinità. From the space in front of the pier the panorama is really amazing; waters are all around the Isola Comacina and a piece of Sala Comacina can be seen.

Argegno

Turning back the other way around, to the centre of the village, the view is not the classic panorama of the village with houses one lying on the others, but due to the grade, they seems to climb on each other and looks like the typical panorama of the Liguria coasts.

Between the churches and the lakeside

Among the houses it appears the bell tower of the Santa Margherita Church, a little bit on the side and very scenic, closed to the cemetery around 200 metres at the south of the village. Inside the church there are 3 naves (the last one of which built back in the 800th) and polygonal apse. At the right end side there are the bell tower and the sacristy, not outside but inside the building.

Just outside one of these there is the Sculpture of Santa Margherita, further than paintings illustrating Santa Margherita, the Croix and Saint Thomas.

It is difficult to stop watching at the panorama appearing to whom look at this place, however also the Church of the Saint Trinity must be visited. In Neo Romanic style it was built in 1600 and sanctify in 1929 by Bishop Adolfo Pagani. On the front there are the mosaics of the 4 evangelists, of Saint Anna (Protector of Argegno), Saint Abbondio (protector of Como) and the rose window.

Argegno Chiesa SS Trinità

Inside the church, looking upside, it is possible to notice the roof which looks like a shed. Looking to the entrance instead the wonderful rose window with amazing colours is on top of the original pipe organ, already existing in the previous ancient church, sustained  by 2 marble holy water font.

A lot of sculpture can be admired within the church:  Virgin Maria, Saint Joseph, Saint Teresina, Saint Antony and the Sacred Heart. On the left hand side there is a restructured painting of the Nativity.

The area is not a quite space, in fact in front of the church there is the lido where in the summers a lot of people have meetings looking for fresh water to swim in. The Lido is perfect for everyone who wants to have an aperitif and taste something on the side of the waters of the Como Lake enjoying the panorama.

The Lido is not just a beach with swimming pool, but also a restaurant, a pub and a pizzeria where in the Friday nights music shows are usually offered.

Lido di Argegno

Walking up the stairway on the left hand side of the church and walking ahead, turning right, there is the cable car that gets people up to the Pigra Viewpoint, actually known as the “Terrace of the lake”.

A climb quiet and panoramic offering amazing views. The high gap from the cable car to the viewpoint is 650 meter and once on top the view will show the high numbers of villages like Laglio, Nesso, Argegno, Lezzeno, Bellagio, Varenna, Punta Balbianello, Comacina Island. But it is not enough because the mountains reflected in the lake can be now admired in a new perspective: the Gordona Rock, The San Primo Mountain, the Grigna, the Grignetta and the Pizzo dei Tre Signori become an amazing context.

Argegno Funivia Pigra

Once on the top, the view is really incredible, but a visit to the village is a must, to its characteristics glimpse, the nice houses with rock face among more modern homes, its fountains and the churches (Santa Margherita and San Rocco). For walking lovers walking from here it is possible to reach the Colonno Alp or the Monte Galbiga.

Argegno, even being a small village, is a real pearl to be visited. Once in your heart you will never be able to forget it.

La Ca di Radio Vecc in Bellano

In Bellano, hidden like a precious rock in a chest, there is the “Ca di Radio Vecc” (House of old radio), a nice small museum managed with love and passion by Mr. Gianpaolo and his wife Rina. Entering the exhibition open the doors of a new old world. The owners drive the visitors illustrating the exposed pieces and their importance.

In over 50 years, Mr. GianPaolo Panatti has patiently found, preserved, reconditioned unique and original pieces that are now exposed in the museum and, with a little bit of luck, can also be seen functioning. Listen to a radio dated back to 1938, with a warm and delicate sound, seems impossible but becomes reality in this place.

Do not expect to pay a ticket to enter! Instead you will be greeted by Mr. Or Mrs. Panatti that will start exposing their passion for these pieces, organized by year, and narrating curiosities and anecdoties.

The place is not wide, ma the pieces inside are priceless, some of them are even rare. Every radio, every object is a jump in the past, ages that will never come back..

The first interesting piece is a Marconi Fono, dated back to 1923, then a BBC, a wonderful radio that have the appearance of a cat face, a radio with an original parchment and loudspeaker to be inserted.

Radios dated back to 1933 have the appearance of a small cupola; just in later times the design start changing becoming more squared off. Some of the models were highly expensive at least for their time. This is the case of an “Audiola” that costed 800 Italian Lira in the early 1900; another one, whose cost was due to new materials like steel, costed 1000 Italian Lira.

Every radio is a sort of masterpiece; some of them were hand worked realized with passion and precision which was their added value.

Some of the Radio exposed where self made, realized by lovers who preferred build their own model. They are not “easy” pieces being made of complexity, ideas and manual skills.

One of the radios shown has a circle form, with external louder, built in a period  where they were used to build incorporated louder. This radio made of two separate pieces, was called “the Martian” because the two pieces do not relate eachother.

Getting closer to recent day, in the museum there are the “Rural Radio”, the ones used during the fascist period, in the farmlands, to allow people to listen to news, or also a “Littoriale”, a rare example of radio that the Dux was used to send to war orphans.

La Ca di Radio Vecc, European ande American radio

La Ca di Radio Vecc

It is impressive the comparison between the radios from Europe and the ones from the USA; the last had, at least at the beginning, radio and speaker split while the Europeans had internal speaker. Also the USA models were finely elaborated, with veining representing the quality of the woods. One of the exposed radios has veining that look like to show a fox face. The wood externals were produced by artisans who were used to produce all handmade.

Among the different kind of radios also the first models of satellite radio which, in the 60s, cost about 500 lire. The exposed model is an Imca, that had to be booked at least one year earlier and for which two instalments were due: one at the booking, 500 Lire, and balance at the delivery, further 500 Lira.

For brand lovers, in the 60s particular radio were produced. Radios illustrated with bottle of Coke, bottle of Cynar, the Gyllette shave cream. Also the one put on the vespa in the movie “Vacanze Romane”.

La Ca di Radio Vecc Bellano

It’s not all: the radio used by German during the war to listen to Radio Londra, the Brionvega series like the one at the Moma, trumpet gramophones, the phonograph of Edison, the disc of the historical hand pipe organ, a sort of TV gramophone old style.

A special section is dedicated to televisions from the most ancient to the most recent, passing through special models like the one cathodic Tv with flat screen  or the one with 4 screen that cost about 10.000.000 Liras, allowing to wath 4 different programs at the same time.

Some pearls: the Fleming diodo, the Volta battery, a radio built in the Mauthausen concentration camp, some tv microphones and the first energy generator back to 1.800.

At this step the visit is to an end; last thing to do is to sign the guest book, while the offer is free.

The time of the visit is about 30 minutes and Miss Rina and Mr. Gian Paolo are kind ad available to explain whatever is requested.

If you pass from Bellano, a few steps from Piazza San Giorgio, you need to stop and visit this marvellous museum, and you will want to come back again.

Fort Montecchio North, Colico

Fort Montecchio North is situated just outside the centre of the beautiful town of Colico. It is a defensive building, built in just one year between 1913 and 1914, on the occasion of the first world war. As it wasn’t attacked or bombed, it could be renovated and opened to the public as a museum. The Fort in reality has never been used for the war but just for military training and, till the 70ies, as armoury.

From outside, next to the domes and from the square, there’s a breathtaking and exciting view: the mountains are reflected in the water, the towns overlook the Lake and the water that reflects the colours of the sky and the mountains is a true splendour.

Visiting Fort Montecchio North

The visit to the Fort Montecchio North is guided and last 40 minutes of walking inside it, whilst listening to the guides very well acknowledged and able and available for any answer. If you think 40 minutes are too long you will change your opinion while visiting rooms and listening to curiosities.

The high marble walls protect an historic treasure made of underground walkways – hidden routes to those who came from the outside – and an armoury that stretches into the rock to a depth of 60 metres; to move from one area to another you must follow the walkways, while to get to the parade ground below you have to passing through the great gate.

There are 3 blocks: one – the barrack – for the kitchens, the warehouses and the housing of the military; the second that can be accessed through the long covered walkway (140 meters long and 3 meters high) and the third one which is on the upper floor and is known as “Battalion floor”.

There was not a dining hall so militaries were used to eat in the open air – in the arms square – when the weather was good while in their beds in the case of bad weather.

The tour starts in the bottom area, with the big lawn where soldiers were used to spend their free time, relaxing and playing but also drinking and washing themselves. Here, at the bottom floor, there were the kitchens and the bathrooms, one for the troops and one for the officials.

Entering the block there is the head quarter with, fixed at the wall, a map dated back to 1939 showing the strategic position of the fort, positioned between two important ways for possible attacks (Valchiavenna and Valtellina). Scope of the fort was destroying enemy attack bases.

Cartina a Forte Montecchio Nord

During the visit the different rooms where militaries were used to live are visited; the official room was used as infirmary (there still is the scale for the height of the militaries) and was equipped with flowing water due to a dedicated pump and a suspended tank.

The guide will now give you a small curiosity: it is supposed that the height scale started at 1.60 meters, but since King Vittorio Emanuele was a little guy, the height was modified down, finally starting at 1.50 meters.

From the infirmary, the next step is the dormitory where about 40 soldiers slept during the first war, while 100 where here during the second one. Here there were 40 spikes on the wall, 40 beds and 40 lockers. With the increase of the soldiers, during the 2nd war, bunk beds were instead used.

Forte Montecchio Nord

Every room was warmed up with wood stoves and particular structures specifically studied for the purpose allowed good air flow.

Going forward in the visit here is the long connection tunnel with its embrasure that allowed to look outside and shoot. At the upper floor there were the armoury built inside the rocks and the room for the loading of the arms. These, in the unlucky case of blast, would have collapsed easily keeping safe the rest of the fort.

Forte Montecchio Nord

The tour in the history goes on in different rooms which, in the case of attacks, would have allowed to exit the fort and also get water tanks. Going up again, there are signs dated back to 1939 when the fort was frontier place. From this the phrase ”Ogni guardia di frontiera vale per tre” (Every frontier guard counts for 3).

Finally there are other rooms, the command office, where officers and soldier was used to study the papers with the coordinates for the cannon shoots, and the good lifts for the transfer of the rounds among floors. Communications between floors were managed through cavities while with the external through telephone.

Inside the cannon

Finally here we are to one of the most awaited and interesting moments of the tour: the visit inside the cannon. Up through a stepladder it is reached a circular space, in the centre of which there is the cannon that was armed by 6 artillerymen. The cannon has an intercom through which the artillerymen got the shoot coordinates. Visitors will have the chance to attend the demonstration showing how it works.

Dentro al cannone Forte Montecchio Nord

All the phases to make the cannon work are shown by the guide who, step by step explains every mechanism and moment of its usage, from the charging to the cleaning.

After this the guide drives visitors outside where it is possible to take pictures closed to the cannons and  also of the wonderful panorama.

Cannoni Forte Montecchio Nord

The tour is quite to the end, just a quick view of the winch used to raise the pieces of the cannons that needed to be changed, a look to the electric plants working with a liquid similar to gasoline and finally the ventilation system.

Just outside the Fort Montecchio North, near the ticket box, it is finally possible to buy gadgets and articles, leaving messages or comments on the guest book.

This is an historical record for all the fans and for those who want to visit a place absolutely out of the ordinary, a place we suggest to discover part of our history and fragments of the life inside a fort during the war periods.

Fort Montecchio North is placed in Colico, in Via delle Torri number 8.

Information about time of opening and price can be found at the official website Fortemontecchionord.

The Nameless Castle (Castello dell’Innominato)

The “Castello dell’Innominato” (Nameless Castle), also known as “Castello di Somasca” and “Rock of Vercurago”, landing on the Lake of Garlate, is one of the places to visit when someone wants to know the places where Alessandro Manzoni set his famous novel. Now it is just a little bit more than a rude, but can easily be reached and from its position there is a wonderful view of the lake.

How to get there

Getting there is quite easy and is possible reach it both by car, driving straight to Maggianico, or on foot through a nice panoramic track of about 15 minutes walking.

In this second case, it is necessary to get Vercurago, parking, and walking up to the San Girolamo Sanctuary. Once passed over the stairs enter the strict way with low declivity.

Walking ahead there is a new open space that allow to reach the “Chapel Street”, built up in the 1760, that drives to the Castel. Along the track, on the right side, there are 11 Chapels and in every one there is one  sculpture representing moments of the life of San Girolamo, while on the left side it is possible to seed lake views.

Strada verso il Castello dell'Innominato

The suggestion for the walk is to wear  comfortable shoes, since the track is made of little stones, the last part is dirt track and the castle is without floor; rest of the castle there are just some walls, while the floor is just made of grass.

Before getting the castle there is the “Saint Stairway”, built up in the 1837 bc is one of the ways to get to the Castle. At the starting of the way up there is this script: “Questa scala santa tra districati rovi e sterpi tracciava da solo compiendo l’ardua fatica S. Gerolamo Emiliani per accedere a la romita grotta dove con assidue vigilie preghiere ed aspre penitenze a l’anima preparava l’ascesa a la gloria del cielo

 Scala Santa Castello dell'Innominato

Already since the year 30s it was stated that walking up the stairway (please note: it is not allowed going down through the steps, but only going up) it is possible to obtain the indulgence, while in 1916 Pope Francesco allowed the indulgence just in certain conditions.

Going forward, walking with the stairs on the right, the Renaissance Church is reached, as well as a further Sanctuary (before passing through the gate, on the right, there is a way getting to the Hermitage and from here it is possible to get the Castle after a long series of steps). From an open space on the left side it is possible to stop and see the wonderful panorama.

Going ahead up on the cobblestones and through the trees, finally the Nameless Castle is reached. Before entering the Castle, from the grass space, the understanding lake can be admired.

Lago di Garlate

History of the “Nameless Castle”

The “Nameless Castle” was built up in the 12th Century; it was a Fortified Fortress, at first property of the Family Benaglio and then, in 1312, sold to the Family Della Torre.

For long time it had been the border between the Ducato di Milano and the Venice Republic until it was, in 1509, destroyed by the French troops.

Here, Francesco Bernardino Visconti, the man who inspired the character of the “Nameless” in the Romance “I Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed) written by Alessandro Manzoni, lived for a period, even if its real residence was in Brignano D’Adda. The under staying village, identified as Malanotte, was the place where Alessandro Manzoni put the tavern and the headquarter of the “Bravi”.

Castello dell'Innominato

The Somaschi Fathers bought the lands in 1628 and built the Main House and the Sanctuary. They also built up the Sacromonte and the Chapels, with the aid of Architect Giuseppe Bovara, while in 1902, the tower was transformed in Chapel in honour of the Saint and it is here possible to admire a scene of Saint that gives  orphans things to eat.

On the right end side of the Castle  there is a chapel entitled to Saint Ambrogio; about this chapel there are information back to 1339. It was reconditioned in 1530; it is possible to look at it but not entering and is just used in some occasions. Looking through the bars, other than the benches, an apse dedicated to Saint Ambrogio can be seen.

Cappella di Sant'Ambrogio Castello dell'Innominato

What remain of the Nameless Castle, other than the Chapels, is part of the bastions, the external walls and the cross, that substitute the older one dedicated to the Saint. Just closed to the cross there is an inscription dedicated by the Alpines from Bergamo-Lecco-Como to P. Giovanni Battista Pigato, military Chaplain on the front Greek-Albanese-Russian, Julia Division.

Castello dell'Innominato

To go back to the village it is possible walk back again through the same trail or, just out of the castle, go to the left and walk down the steps. This way it is also possible, walking just few steps, reach the Heritage and finally get the gates sitting just closed to the Resurrection Church and finally to the Chapel Trail.

Reopening of the Villas on the Como Lake

With springtime coming the wonderful villas of the Como Lake, that have been closed during wintertime – or at least have opened just some days – are ready to open their doors to public.

It is now the time to prepare to open our eyes and admire the beauty of the furniture, the perfumed gardens with their coloured flowers and rare trees, amazing views and romantic corners.

Here following the dates of the spring and summer opening of the Villas on the Como Lake

In early March Villa Monastero introduces again its daily opening, so if you want to visit it you can do it every day from 10 am to 5 pm. In the next months the opening will be longer:

April from 10 am to 6 pm;

May, June, July and August from 9.30 am to 7 pm;

September up to the 1st of October included from 9.30 to 6 pm;

October from 10 am to 5 pm.

The Museum House, except for August, is not open every day:

In March it will be possible to visit it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as on non working days, from 10 am to 5 pm;

In april on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as on non working days, from 10 am to 6 pm;

In May on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and non working days from 9.30 to 7 pm;

In June and July, on Wednesday from 2 pm to 7 pm, while on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday from 9.30 to 7 pm;

From September to the 1st of October on Wednesday from 2 to 6 pm, while Friday, Saturday, Sunday and non working day from 9.30 am to 6 pm.

Finally from October 6 to the 29th on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and non working day from 10 am to 5 pm.

For further information please visit the official website  for possible changes of the opening time, time of the ticket office and further information.

About the other villas, here following information about Villa Carlotta, which re open its doors on March 10 and is accessible from 9.30 am to 5 pm.

Also in this case the opening time will be longer in the next months:

From April 1st to October 1st is from 9 am to 7.30 pm; in June and July, on the Thursdays, from 9 am to 9 pm.

From October the 2nd to November the 5th the opening time is 9.30 am to 5 pm, while during the week ends of November is from 10 am to 4.30 pm.

During the Immacolata period (8-9-10 of December) it is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm.

Also in this case, please visit the official website  for changes and ticket office opening time.

On March 11th it is time of Villa del Balbianello that can be visited every day from 10 am to 6 pm except on Mondays and Wednesdays. Its official website is visitfai for every checks.

The Gardens of Villa Melzi, finally will be opened since March 25 to October 31, from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm (official website).

These wonderful houses will be opened soon, as well as the others that are opened and accessible to public during the whole year.

Piona Abbey, spirituality and culture on the Como Lake

Piona Abbey is located on the territory of Colico, on the shore of Lake Como on the Lecco side, at the foot of Mount Legnoncino and Legnone.

Once you leave the parking lot you walk for few meters in a not very dense vegetation, on asphalt road and then you pass the statues of St. Benedict and St. Bernard, a small shop at the entrance to finally see the Church which was initially consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, later, to Saint Nicholas of Bari.

Abbazia di Piona

Various monastic orders spent their days here but by the 19th century the abbey passed to various families until 1937 when the last owner, the commander Pietro Rocca, sold the estate to the Cistercian Congregation of the Casamaria and later the villa.

Piona Abbey

On the door, decorated by the sculptor Giuseppe Abram, of the nice church you can admire the paintings depicting the story of St Benedict. Inside there is a single rectangular nave ending with an apse with a fresco barrel vault; the vault in front of the apse is the original one while the truss roof was rebuilt and restructured in 2014.

The Church is 27,60 meters length and 8 meters width and drive visitors to enter in intimacy with God; its severity, the lack of opulent decorations and its simplicity avoid distractions for the visitor who is at the meantime driven to an interior dialog with God.

Just at the entering, closed to the holy water font supported by 2 lions, there is a painting as nice as mysterious: near the depictions of the Via Crucis a painting by Girolamo Pergola is displayed. This work of art hides a mystery as three-dimensional objects, whose origin is not clear, appear in relief on it.

The painting show the Virgin Maria keeping a young Jesus in her arms. Jesus has is little arms opened in the same position he will have once on the Croix. At their foot, 2 soldiers stay on their knees offering them their swords, whose hilts are in relief, and in front of them a book with the words “Ego autem dico vobis: diligite inimicos vestros”.

Abbazia di Piona quadro misterioso

On the right side there is a pagan urn with the remains of Festina.

In the presbytery the Ascension, the Blessing Christ and Apostles. A lot of the frescos unfortunately were ruined by the weather and cannot be clearly watched.

The square-shaped bell tower in stones, built up back in the XVII century, and the ruins of a small building (a medieval apse), now destroyed, complete the picture.

On the right end side of the church there is a door that allow entering the Monastery, dated back to the 13th century, whose east area gives access to the capitulary room: 2 inscriptions, one dated back to 1252 and the other to 1257, inform that it was built up by Bonaccorso de Canova in 2 different steps an all at his cost.

In the centre of the Monastery there are a tree and a water-well, metaphor for the Life Tree of the heaven and source of pleasures.

The irregular quadrangular-plan courtyard consists of 40 different capitals (and not distributed equally on 4 sides) in white marble, and arches with animals and leafs. The 11 column at west represent the college of the Apostle (except of Giuda after the betrayal), while the 10 at north represent the commandments. The 12 at east the Israel tribes and the 8 at south the resurrection.

Abbazia di Piona

The capitals overlook on a beautiful internal garden while, on a wall there’s a painted calendar showing rural scenes which depict the characteristics of the months and can be dated back to 12th/13th century. It has to be read from the right to the left; on the upper side are represented the jobs of the months, while on the lower side some martyrs.

Just next to it there are other murals representing dragons, snakes, human faces and scenes from the Bible.
Just above the door of the Church there is a fresco representing Saint Benedict whilst blessing; a further fresco, on the opposite side, represents the Saint escaping temptations, illustrated like a woman.

Piona, chapter room

The nice chapter room of the Piona Abacy, within the superior is appointed, is sitting on the east side of the cloister; the wood benches and backrests were transferred from the  San Zeno sacristy (Verona) and were made by the venetian school of the 18th century.

The sun on the roof is wonderful, same as the figures inlaid. A gravestone remembering that the rests of Cesare and Lidia Rocca are stored in this place with these words: Piona, revived in the name of God Piona “rinata nel nome di Dio eterna la memoria dei coniugi ing. Cesare Rocca e Lidia Maffioli. Caduti per la patria e qui i loro resti mortali devota custodisce”.

A few steps to the garden and there are the rests of the Santa Maria Chapel, dated back to 11th Century. Looking at it, it can be noted that it is not at the same level of the San Nicolò Church but is at a higher level.

The Garden and the Lourdes Cave

The gardens are home to a small cave dedicated to our Lady of Lourdes and a beautiful view of the Lake which makes it possible to enjoy, especially on sunny days, a beautiful landscape.

Abbazia Piona Grotta Lourdes

A bar offers a chance to have an excellent coffee, a soft drink or taste one of the delicious herbal liquor that can be purchased in the shop located at the entrance; here, you can also find ointments and creams made from herbs, sweets, honey and many other products of natural origin.

Abbazia di Piona panorama

Visitors must have the chance to buy the Imperial drops, the result of a recipe handed down from 1700 which includes alcohol, water, herbs, natural flavours and saffron (as natural dye); the drops are useful as energetic drink or digestive. They soothe the pain, prevent tooth decay, cold sores, cold, rheumatisms, arthritis or car sickness.

Villa Melzi d’Eril, a pearl on the lake

Villa Melzi is in the beautiful scenery of Lake Como and precisely it is located in the city of Bellagio. Thanks to its terraces, floral species and landscape it represents one of the most beautiful villas to visit.

Villa Melzi d’Eril between History and Culture

Designed by the architect Giocondo Albertonelli and commissioned by Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril, it shows inside some neoclassic decoration  mainly due to the influence of its architect, although  also painters like Andrea Appiani, Giuseppe Bossi, Alessandro Sanquirico and sculptors such as Antonio Canova, Giambattista Comolli and Pompeo Marchesi  had a leading role in embellishing the villa.

Villa Melzi d'Eril

In addition to the splendid house there is a chapel, an orangery, and a beautiful English garden dotted with statues, monuments and relics designed by Luigi Canonica and Luigi Villoresi.

The Moorish kiosk, used in the past to have tea and to listen to music, keeps inside the busts of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria and Empress Marianne di Savoia, the Duke Ludovico Melzi and his wife Josephine Melzi Barbò; in shades of white and blue, it has a wonderful view not only on the Lake but also on the monument to Dante and Beatrice.

Villa Melzi d'Eril garden

The Majesty of Villa Melzi d’Eril’s gardens

Inside the gardens full of azaleas and rhododendrons, rare and exotic plants, hedges of Camellia you can stroll comfortably along the paths flanked by rows of plane trees that offer moments of coolness; there are numerous  views in these walks but, for those who want to enjoy the Lake from a panoramic view, there is a clearing with a tub of water lilies and various sculptures and statues of Apollo and Meleagro.

Giardini di Villa Melzi d'Eril

Between plants and exotic species, a fine setting is offered by some bamboo and a rock garden with plants and flowers that are renewed every year; thanks to the blend of their colours, they create a scenic effect.

Villa Melzi d'Eril chapel

Those who visit villa Melzi d’Eril must also see the Chapel, the greenhouse and the former orangerie, now converted into a museum with relics of the Napoleonic period, archaeological artefacts and Renaissance frescoes.

Colico, the kindom of kitesurfing

Nestled at the foot of Mount Legnone, Colico is an important communication node between Lecco and the Sondrio province but also a resort and a destination of religious, historical and sportive tourism.

Overlooking the Lake it is a place of reception of tourists who wish to spend some relaxing time walking on the lake or in the centre, before stopping in one of the numerous bars with outdoor seating on the square; here you can enjoy a drink, a soft drink, beer or an ice cream and let yourself be tempted by one of many snacks looking at the Lake panorama.

Colico, sport and spirituality

The long walk leads to the Lido where you can bask in the sun, be pampered at a bar or, thanks to the wind affecting the area, go windsurfing or kiteboarding. This is the only area of the lake where you can practice this sport and it is no coincidence that here the Kitesurfing World Championships and FIAT Freestyle Kiteboard World Cup take place.

Colico Kite

Many visitors, not only religious, are attracted by the Abbey of Piona, on the tip of the Olgiasca peninsula, where it is possible to visit the Church, the beautiful gardens with the Grotto dedicated to our Lady of Lourdes and the cloister; in the gardens you can taste some of the products made by the friars but you can also enjoy the enchanting scenery of the Lake. Before leaving the Abbey, you should stop to buy one of the spirits or the famous Imperial drops at the store located at the entrance.

Piona Abbey

The war and the forts

Of historical importance is Forte Montecchio North, the only military fort that has preserved intact its facilities and offers the possibility of “touching” the setting and equipment used during the second world war; this condition is due to the fact that the Fort had actually no role in the war and so did not suffer attacks and its 4 cannons had never been practically used.

Montecchio Nord

Of Fort Fuentes there are only ruins instead; built in early ‘ 600 by Pedro Enriquez de Acevedo, count of Fuentes, was demolished at the behest of Napoleon and today it belongs to the province of Lecco.

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The Vezio castel, a balcony on Varenna

Vezio Castle, in Vezio, a charming village and hamlet of Perledo, is located near the beautiful and romantic Varenna; you get there climbing by car, which must be necessarily left in the small parking lot in front  of the town or, if you are trained, you can get there via a comfortable walk .

A vollage with a castle

The few inhabitants (about 50 divided into 20 families) and tourists can move only on foot. The car use is strictly prohibited, lucky for those who want to enjoy the view of the small and narrow streets that cross it, winding between stone houses that are ancient-looking and intimate; a series of narrow roads, ups and downs and steps lead down to the small local cemetery, and from there, continuing on a path in gravel, you arrive at the famous castle.

After passing the bar, the restaurant and the souvenir shop you find yourself in front of a cosy tower and some ruins that tell of an ancient history; no sumptuous rooms, furnishings and objects full of charm but only what’s left of an original castle dated 1100 that, among other things, offers a breathtaking view.

Castello di Vezio

After passing the ticket office you can visit the place  without haste; the first guest that welcomes visitors belongs to falconry and it is a large owl called Arthur, held at bay by a cage because of its aggressiveness and hostility.

The balcony of the Vezio Castel

Along the gravel driveway you reach the balcony that offers a spectacular view of Lake Como; going left, after a few steps, you come to the Garden of Olives where the other components of falconry are. Those who wish to enjoy their beauty can wait for the show.

View from Vezio

Continuing the visit, going past other walls, you reach the tower; a steep staircase leads you to a suspension bridge (of a few meters) that leads to the tower itself.

At least three ramps lead to the visit of weapons, armour and momentous items; the lion’s share, however, makes it the lariosauro (fossil reptile lived about 200 years ago in the underlying lake are exhibited here). Then, not without any effort, you get to the top of the tower where the scenery opens up at 360° on the lake.

Vezio Castle

We are opposite Bellagio and from here the two branches of the lake are clearly visible: the Lecco one on the left and lake Como on the right; on a clear day the view is unparalleled and Varenna helps to complete the picture and make it a unique view.

Leaving the tower, along the path on the left side, you will cross some gardens that lead to the entrance of the underground: the defensive outpost of Gen. Cadorna (1915 /18) placed right in front of Menaggio, place of a hypothetical first German descent. Continuing along the path, after a few steps you’ll end up back to the initial balcony, and then at the entrance.