Tremezzina is one of the largest and most fascinating villages of the western branch of Lake Como.
Rich in history, art and culture, it also offers some of the most evocative panoramic views of Central Lake Como: Isola Comacina, the only island of Lake Como, the wooded Promontory of Lavedo with the wonderful Villa del Balbianello, the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the view of the Bellagio promontory rising towards Mount San Primo and the mountains that form the backdrop, including the two unmistakable peaks of Grigna and Grignetta, which are particularly evocative at sunset.
The municipality of Tremezzina includes the villages of Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra and Tremezzo, with their characteristic historical hamlet, the splendid villas and gardens, the Romanesque and Baroque churches and the lakeside promenades.
The best way to explore this town and enjoy all its wonders is by following the famous Greenway, which for a good part of its route develops right in Tremezzina.
For the wealth of attractions and points of interest we also suggest to divide the visit into 3 days, so that you have enough time to discover and enjoy every corner of this village.
Here then are our advice and suggestions on what to do and visit in Tremezzina.
Ossuccio overlooks the Zoca de l’Oli, a quiet inlet in front of Comacina Island and so called because of the remarkable tranquillity of its waters, precisely “smooth as oil”. The mild climate enjoyed by this area of Lake Como favours the growth of a typically Mediterranean vegetation, characterised above all by the presence of numerous olive trees.
The village is characterized by the presence of a rich historical, artistic and archaeological heritage all to be discovered.
So here are its main attractions.
Assuming a walk along the Greenway starting from Colonno, the first village of the Tremezzina you come across is Ossuccio. Here, in the historical hamlet of Spurano, stands the marvellous Church of Santi Giacomo and Filippo, in Romanesque style and datable between the 10th and 12th centuries.
The building, which preserves almost entirely its original line, is located on a rocky spur overlooking the lake, along the route of the ancient Via Regina.
It consists of a single nave with a semicircular apse and has a gabled façade, marked by pilasters and decorated with a frame of hanging arches, above which there is a very particular and characteristic bell tower with two arches.
Along the left side of the church, in correspondence of the ancient side entrance portal, there is a sixteenth century fresco representing San Giacomo Maggiore.
Don’t miss the interiors, richly decorated with wall paintings.
To visit the church it is necessary to contact the Parish of Ossuccio, but it is possible to get an idea of its interior by looking through the glass wall on the left side of the building.
The Velarca is currently being restored.
Coming from Colonno, just before the Church of San Giacomo, a short flight of steps descends to the lake from the Statale Regina road and leads to the Velarca, a Larian gondola transformed into a holiday residence between 1960 and 1961 and designed by the historic Studio BBPR, founded by Gian Luigi Banfi, Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers.
An absolute masterpiece of design, the Velarca is a houseboat anchored here for over fifty years and is characterised by exceptional attention to detail and scrupulous choice of materials.
At the request of the clients, Emilio and Fiammetta Norsa, who owned only a small strip of land overlooking the lake shore, the designers adapted the boat to make it a houseboat, moored on the mainland.
The Velarca, the name chosen by Ernesto Rogers with precise reference to the famous Velasca Tower in Milan designed by the same studio BBPR, is an example of a unique house-boat. Extolled in architecture magazines of the time as an example of Italian creativity and ingenuity, thanks to the passion of the Norsa couple, the Velarca soon became a prestigious salon frequented by artists and intellectuals.
Aldo Norsa and his wife Maria Luisa (heirs of the owners, Emilio and Fiammetta Norsa), who made it a holiday home for many years, donated Velarca to FAI in 2011, identified as a managing body offering high guarantees of competence in the protection and enhancement of cultural heritage.
Leaving the historic centre of Spurano and the Church of San Giacomo behind you, continue along the Greenway, crossing the state road. When you reach the next crossroads, the Greenway turns right, but we suggest you continue along Via Santuario, in the direction of the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio and its Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Relief.
The Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, a fascinating place of worship, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, is a must for those who visit the Tremezzina.
To reach the beginning of the cobbled avenue that leads to the famous church, just walk to the top of Via Santuario, until you reach its entrance, near the IV chapel. The complete route actually starts a little further down, in the hamlet of Molgisio di Lenno, which can be reached in a few minutes by going down to the right.
The complex of the Sacred Mount of the Blessed Virgin of Ossuccio, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003, develops along the slope of the mountain of Ossuccio and includes the Sanctuary and fourteen chapels illustrating the Mysteries of the Rosary through 230 life-size earthenware statues, true masterpieces of the art of the plasterers from the Intelvi Valley.
The complex, inspired by the models of the Sacred Mounts of Varallo and Varese, was erected as a bulwark to protect the Catholic border lands against the advance of Protestantism and with the intention of reproducing the experience of pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
The avenue leading to the Sanctuary winds along a pleasant walk among olive trees and is enriched by the fourteen chapels, built in the seventeenth century over a long period of time, between 1644 and 1699, thanks to the initiative of Brother Lorenzo Selenato and the contribution of some important local families who financed its construction.
At the top of the mountain stands the Sanctuary of the Blessed Vergin of Relief, destination every year of hundreds of believers.
The church, built in 1537 and consecrated in 1699, is located in a splendid panoramic position on Lake Como, Comacina Island and Tremezzina.
According to some sources in this area there was a Roman temple dedicated to Ceres but the erection of the sanctuary is traditionally linked to the devotion for an ancient statue of the Madonna and Child.
The sanctuary is preceded by a large portico with a large arch, but access is through the portal on the right side along which there is also the eighteenth century bell tower with square stone masonry completed by a bell cell with a unique bulb-shaped roof.
The interior of the church has a single nave with two side altars and a deep chapel on the left side consisting of two rooms.
Il Santuario è aperto tutti i giorni, dalle 7 alle 19.
We would like to point out that Sacred Mount of Ossuccio is part of the innovative Artway project, an intelligent videoguide on tablet that allows you to discover, in a completely new and engaging way, the most famous attractions of Tremezzina.
The tablets with the ARTWAY videoguides can be rented at the Antiquarium Museum of Comacina Island (near the medieval complex of S. Maria Maddalena in Ossuccio) or at the ticket offices of Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbianello, at low cost.
To resume our itinerary to discover the wonders of the village of Ossuccio we suggest, once back to the starting point of the avenue of the Sanctuary, to go down along the same uphill road, to the right of the car park, to reach in a few minutes another point of interest in Ossuccio, the church of Santi Agata and Sisinnio, a Romanesque church of very ancient origins.
On the descent, once you reach a second car park, just continue on the asphalted road and, immediately after a slight curve, go down to the small cobbled square on the right, overlooked by the small religious building.
The Church of Santi Agata and Sisinnio is a building of very ancient origins, which has undergone many changes over the centuries, until it was transformed into a Romanesque building, still partially well preserved with its original altar, a splendid stoup, remains of frescoes, some on view and others hidden in the attic, small conch windows and a beautiful bell tower.
Inside there is a 12th century fresco depicting the Crucifixion and a mural painting, of which a fragment with the date 1489 remains.
Also this church can be visited by contacting the Parish of Ossuccio.
To continue, take the asphalt road that descends to the lake, until you reach a roundabout.
Here you can choose whether to rejoin the Greenway, going left, or continue along the itinerary to discover the village of Ossuccio. In this case, continue down towards the lake, with the Municipal Park on your right and Villa Leoni on your left.
This will take you to one of the most scenic spots on Lake Como, with an extraordinary view of Comacina Island framed between the complex of the Ancient Hospitalis of Stabio, its famous bell tower and a breathtaking landscape.
It is located in a strategic position along the ancient Via Regina (now Via Somalvico) and includes the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, the manor house which today houses the Municipal Police and the building which houses the Antiquarium today.
The Church of Santa Maria Maddalena is a Romanesque oratory, datable to the XI-XII century, with a single nave with a semicircular apse and on the walls traces of Romanesque frescoes.
Absolutely noteworthy is its suggestive bell tower, one of the most immortalized attractions in the area, characterized by a bell cell rich in decorative elements and placed above the shaft of the Romanesque period.
The church, made of hewn blocks of Moltrasio stone, has along the wall of the nave and apse a beautiful frame with hanging arches. On the arch that precedes the façade there is a remnant of a fresco with the signature of the Brescian painter Aragono Aragonio, author of a canvas in the Sanctuary of the Blessed Vergin of Relief.
Some traces of frescoes can be seen in the interior: on the counter-façade there is a Madonna and Child with Saints with Offerers, on the right wall and on the left wall Episodes from the life of Santa Maria Maddalena, in the basin of the apse there are faint traces of some signs of the zodiac.
The church furnishings are completed by the balustrade and the elegant eighteenth-century frontal with the figure of Santa Maria Maddalena and the Giovio coat of arms.
To visit the church it is necessary to contact the adjacent Antiquarium (www.isola-comacina.it), a small museum that collects interesting archaeological remains found during the excavation campaigns on Comacina Island and where you can buy tickets to visit the island.
The only island of Lake Como, appreciated for its luxuriant nature and splendid views, Comacina Island is also one of the most interesting archaeological areas in northern Italy for the early Middle Ages, but also a centre of artistic production thanks to the presence of the Rationalist style Artists’ Houses, designed by Pietro Lingeri in 1937 and recently restored.
About 600 metres long and just 200 metres wide, Comacina Island is a real open-air museum, a perfect synthesis of medieval and contemporary art. It covers a total area of 6 hectares, mostly covered by lush Mediterranean vegetation.
In the course of 1900 a series of archaeological excavations were carried out on the island by scholars Ugo Monneret de Villard (1914) and Luigi Mario Belloni (1958-1978) which made it possible to reconstruct in detail the splendid and tormented history of this small strip of land. To them goes the merit of having contributed to define what Comacina Island is today: an archaeological site whose importance goes beyond the local borders.
It boasts numerous architectural remains, mostly early Christian and early medieval, among which stand out:
How to get to Comacina Island
The access to the island is by lake with boarding in Ossuccio (Taxi-boat), a few meters from the medieval complex of S. Maria Maddalena and the Antiquarium or by boat by Navigazione Lago di Como.
We would like to point out that Comacina Island is also part of the innovative Artway project, an intelligent videoguide on tablet that allows you to discover, in a completely new and engaging way, the most famous attractions of the Tremezzina. The tablets with ARTWAY videoguides can be rented at the Antiquarium Museum of Comacina Island (near the medieval complex of Santa Maria Maddalena in Ossuccio).
To continue along the itinerary to discover Ossuccio we suggest now to follow the short but panoramic walk below the public garden, rich in centuries-old olive trees, situated on the shore of the lake.
After about a hundred metres you will find yourself on the Statale road and after a short stretch you will see on the left the next point of interest of the route, the Church of Santi Eufemia and Vincenzo.
The Church of Santi Eufemia and Vincenzo was built after 1169 following the destruction of the buildings on Comacina Island by the people of Como. The Chapter of Isola moved the religious centre of the parish church to the mainland using the pre-existing oratory of San Salvatore and probably between the XII and XIII centuries had works of enlargement of the primitive construction carried out.
The building, externally, preserves the characteristics of the Romanesque period and has a gabled façade with a frame of hanging arches and two central semi-columns that frame the entrance portal and a fragment of fresco above, now illegible.
On the northern side stands the bell tower, also marked by hanging arch frames.
Inside, not to be missed are the numerous stucco decorations, among which those in the baptistery chapel, which represent the Baptism of Jesus.
Also worth noting are the three eighteenth-century statues in the third chapel on the right side, dedicated to the Madonna, and a group of sculptures of the Crucifixion in the second chapel on the right.
In the presbytery there are traces of frescoes from the Romanesque period, two wooden statues of angels and the 7th century tombstone of Bishop Agrippino, from Comacina Island.
After the visit of the Church of Saints Eufemia and Vincenzo, the itinerary continues towards the last point of interest of this first stage, the Villa del Balbiano.
You can reach it by resuming the Greenway route, going to the right. After passing the Monument to the Fallen, designed by the architect Pietro Lingeri, you cross the main road and after about twenty metres you find yourself in front of the large wrought iron gate of the splendid Villa del Balbiano.
Villa del Balbiano is a charming 17th century villa, located near the mouth of the Perlana stream and directly overlooking Lake Como.
Unfortunately it is not open to the public, but if you look through its gates you can savour part of its beauty.
In front of the building you can see a nymphaeum flowered with blue irises that leads to a scenic access road, in the middle of which runs a suggestive water game, bordered by boxwood hedges and holm-oak backstage, in which six statues are inserted.
The villa, a massive quadrangular block developed on three floors in height, with a roof made of poplars and with massive ashlar portals, is the result of the taste and the renovation works carried out by the various owners over the centuries.
After various passages, in 1778 the property was sold to Count Giovan Battista Giovio who had new decorations made in its rooms by various painters: Giuseppe Coduri, the brothers Giovanni Antonio and Grandonio Brenni, the brothers Francesco and Gaetano Cartosio, Giuseppe Porro and Giovanni Antonio Torricelli.
A few years later, in 1787, the villa was bought by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini who in the following years promoted new works and also bought the Promontory of Lavedo, where he built the very famous Villa del Balbianello, and in his residences welcomed illustrious men of letters such as Giuseppe Parini.
Starting from the village of Ossuccio it is possible to enjoy pleasant excursions, more or less demanding.
The former monastery of San Benedetto, an interesting example of Romanesque architecture, is located in Val Perlana, a corner of the spirit immersed in nature and surrounded by silence, along the slopes of Mount Galbiga.
The itinerary of this walk is a combination of art and nature, immersed in an extraordinary setting.
The church is open on 1st May.
To access it you can follow the mule track that starts from Via alla Torre, not far from the Church of Santi Agata and Sisinnio in Ossuccio, or follow the itinerary that leads first to the Sanctuary and then to the Tower, passing through the internal streets of the mountain and ending the walk in Sala Comacina.
Recently the Tower has been acquired by FAI (Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano) and its interiors can be visited during the FAI Spring and Autumn Days.
All year round, however, it is possible to follow the beautiful itinerary suggested and leading to its entrance.
Leaving the village of Ossuccio behind and crossing the Perlana river, you will come across the historic centre of Campo, which we suggest you explore until you reach the beautiful square on the lake, with the pier for boat docking and an enchanting panoramic view.
This small historical nucleus, of Roman origins, boasts two buildings of particular interest: Casa Brenna Tosatto, an elegant Art Nouveau residence from the early 20th century, now home to exhibitions and cultural centre, and Villa Monastero, located right along the Greenway.
From Campo, making a short diversion, it is also possible to reach in ten minutes the small Church of Sant’Andrea, a significant testimony of Romanesque architecture, dating back to the first half of the 11th century.
If, on the other hand, you continue along the Greenway, following the appropriate signs, you will reach in about 15 minutes one of the most suggestive points of the village of Lenno, the Gulf of Venus with its enchanting lakeside promenade, location on Tuesday morning of the traditional market.
Near a green picnic area you can take a detour to the magnificent Villa del Balbianello, a must on our itinerary.
Built at the behest of Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini at the end of the 18th century, the Villa del Balbianello stands at the end of the Promontory of Lavedo, in one of the most evocative locations around the lake, so much so that today it is used as a stage set in numerous film productions.
The complex includes several buildings surrounded by a splendid garden, organised on different levels to take advantage of the characteristics of the promontory, which has particularly well-tended ornamental trees, including a majestic holm oak and candlelabrum pruned plane trees.
In the centre of the garden, in a splendid panoramic position, facing on one side the inlet of Comacina Island, called Breast of Diana, and on the other side towards the Tremezzina, called Breast of Venus, there is the loggia. It is a rectangular building with only two rooms, the library and the cartographers’ room, where the cardinal welcomed friends, artists and men of letters, among them Giuseppe Parini who dedicated the Ode “The gratitude” to him.
Don’t miss a visit to the interiors, which retain the layout wanted by Count Guido Monzino, the last owner of Villa Balbianello, who restored the building and the garden, renovating the rooms with English and French furnishings. The villa was also embellished with numerous prints of the Lario and hundreds of relics from his travels and expeditions to the North Pole and Everest.
When Monzino died in 1988, he left the Villa del Balbianello to the Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano (FAI) which still manages it today and allows it to be opened to the public.
The access to the Villa is on foot from Lenno with an uphill stretch, which can be covered in about 25 minutes, or by lake with Taxi Boat service from Lido di Lenno.
The villa is usually open from mid March to early November, with extraordinary openings in the winter months.
We would like to point out that Villa del Balbianello is also part of the innovative Artway project, an intelligent videoguide on tablet that allows you to discover, in a completely new and engaging way, the most famous attractions of the Tremezzina. The tablets with ARTWAY videoguides can be rented at the ticket office.
Once the visit of Villa del Balbianello is over, the Greenway route is resumed and the lakeside promenade is immersed in a breathtaking setting at the foot of elegant villas such as Villa Aureggi and Torre di Villa. We then reach another point of particular interest in the village of Lenno, Piazza XI Febbraio, overlooked by the Church of Santo Stefano and the Baptistery.
The Church of Santo Stefano corresponds to the main church of the parish church of Lenno and was, together with the Baptistery of San Giovanni the Baptist, the fulcrum of a sacred area which also included two chapels dedicated to San Zeno and Santa Maria, later demolished, and the cemetery area.
The antiquity of this complex is documented by some pagan and Christian tombstones mostly dating back to the 6th century, now located in the atrium, on the left side and in the crypt.
The crypt is the jewel in the crown of this church: it traditionally dates back to the second half of the 11th century and bears witness to the Romanesque period.
It can be visited by prior agreement with the parish and is accessed through a trapdoor in the nave. Inside there are fragments of frescoes with figures of Saints, perhaps dating back to the 14th century. Note the columns that divide its three naves, embellished with re-used capitals traditionally believed to be of late early Christian or early medieval origin.
The interior of the church, on the other hand, is noteworthy for the 18th century decorative dress that adorns the walls and vaults of the naves and the presbytery, with large squares framing the Stories of Santo Stefano and the Glory of Santo Stefano.
The first chapel on the right has a 17th century decoration, which includes stuccoes and frescoes on the walls and vault (Adoration of the Shepherds, Trinity and Flight into Egypt) and two canvases on the sides (Nativity of Mary and Assumption), but also preserves on the back wall a Renaissance fresco depicting the Adoration of the Magi. The high altar preserves a valuable 16th century altarpiece depicting the Martyrdom of St. Stephen.
Finally, there is a particular bell tower, with a Romanesque structure and an eighteenth-century belfry.
The Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista, together with the nearby Parish Church of Santo Stefano, frame Piazza XI Febbraio, creating a very suggestive corner of the lake.
The building, an extraordinary example of Romanesque style, probably dates back to the second half of the XI century.
It has an octagonal plan, with an apse originally semicircular and has a decoration with pilaster strips, semi-columns, small arches, splayed windows and a portal surmounted by three arches with a lunette. The masonry is made of irregular stone ashlars that also recall the structures of the Church of San Benedetto in Val Perlana. The dome with stone roofing is completed by a small lantern with double-lancet mullioned windows.
Note, on its entrance, the two semi-columns with elegant capitals with vegetal motifs, probably reused.
The interior preserves ample traces of the successive transformations of the Baroque period.
At the centre of the building is the elegant baptismal font in Arzo red and Varenna black, while on the vault are visible some traces of pictorial decoration representing figures of angels.
The apse area is adorned with a cycle of eighteenth-century frescoes that consists of several scenes: on the back wall and on the sides are depicted three episodes from the life of San Giovanni the Baptist (Madonna and Child, Sant’ Anna and San Giovanni the Baptist, the Preaching of San Giovanni the Baptist, the Baptism of Christ) interspersed with the figures of Santa Lucia, on the left, and Sant’ Agata, on the right. On the vault of the apse is depicted the Glory of San Giovanni the Baptist surrounded by angel musicians.
The furnishings of the baptistery are completed by two canvases on the walls representing the Presentation of Mary at the Temple and the Adoration of the Magi.
To continue your route to discover the Tremezzina we suggest to cross the Statle Road and continue along the Greenway, to reach the upper part of the village of Mezzegra.
You will meet, in order, its main points of interest: the Church of San Giuseppe, the Parish Church of Sant’ Abbondio and the historical centre of Bonzanigo with the characteristic House of Cribs, the Brentano Palace and the Rosati Palace.
The Oratory of San Giuseppe dates back to the end of 1600 and owes its construction to Carlo Brentano Mezzegra, a merchant in Augusta.
Preceded by a portico, the church has a structure with a single nave and an altarpiece depicting the Madonna and Child and Santi Giuseppe and Carlo, probably from the school of Giulio Quaglio. It contains a family tomb.
This small church is opened by the parish priest on the occasion of March 19th, San Giuseppe’s Day and Father’s Day, and traditionally Holy Mass is celebrated followed by the enchantment of the baskets, at the end of which the famous and delicious tortelli of San Giuseppe are served.
The church stands out for its majestic appearance, conferred by its monumental dimensions.
Built in 1724 next to the previous Romanesque one, of which it incorporates the part used as sacristy and oratory of the confraternity, it represents one of the most interesting 18th century architecture of the territory, with evident influences of the European rococo.
From the churchyard you can admire a spectacular panoramic view from the promontory of Bellagio to the Gulf of Lenno, framed by the mountains of San Primo and Grigna.
The walls of its interior are marked by giant Doric and Corinthian pilasters, above which runs a high cornice.
Here are the details that we suggest to note:
Next to the church stands the present-day rectory which occupies the building of the ancient church of Romanesque origin.
Inside there are some rooms of the church: the Chapel of the Confraternity, decorated with a cycle of seventeenth-century stuccoes and frescoes and the Oratory of the Blessed Virgin of Carmine, which preserves the seventeenth-century decoration. On the altar, within an elegant stucco frame, there is a canvas representing the Madonna giving the scapular to San Simone Stock. The vault is decorated with stuccoes and frescoes depicting the Assumption, Musician Angels, the Miracle of the Madonna del Carmine and a Miracle of San Simon Stock.
Once you have visited the church, now follow the road on your right until you reach the end of the descent where you can browse through what is called the House of Crebs, a small museum with a precious permanent collection of cribs and dioramas, open every day and in all seasons.
It is located in the beautiful historic centre of Bonzanigo, a dense cluster of houses that we suggest you explore and where you can admire the seventeenth-century Brentano palaces, evidence of the success achieved by local merchants in northern Europe, where they opened emporiums and banks.
Some of these palaces soon decayed into farmhouses and were then divided among several owners, others, such as the Brentano Palace, with its interesting frescoes and now the seat of administrative offices, and the Rosati Palace, are better preserved.
Once the visit of the historical centre of Bonzanigo is over, we suggest now to go down towards the lower part of Mezzegra, along the road that from the House of Crebs leads to the lake.
Along the descent you pass by the historical centre of Giulino where, on April 28th 1945, Benito Mussolini and Claretta Petacci were shot, stopped by the partisans the day before between Musso and Dongo, arrested and locked up in Casa De Maria, where they spent their last night.
A cross next to the gate of Villa Belmonte recalls the shooting.
The route then continues to descend until it rejoins the Statale Road, crosses it and ends the route, discovering the historic centre of Azzano, at the lake, where you can admire the beautiful square with the enormous specimen of Magnolia, the Church of the Addolorata and, continuing along the small street below the public park, the Church of San Vincenzo.
The Church of the Addolorata is a small oratory built along the ancient Via Regina by Carlo Borromeo Gnosso and opened to the public in 1677.
A single nave building, it has a plaster statuary group on the central altar representing the Pietà, with Jesus and Our Lady of Sorrows, to whom the oratory is dedicated. The two side altars depict the Immaculate Conception and San Gaetano.
The small church, located in the hamlet of Portezza, dates back to medieval times, as documented by the Romanesque bell tower, probably built at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries, which preserves some reused stone elements in the masonry, perhaps belonging to Roman sepulchres or sarcophagi.
On the left side of the church there is an interesting Romanesque bell tower divided by bands of hanging arches and decorative saw-tooth motifs with a triple ringed window on the south side. The interior, with a single nave marked by simple pilasters, preserves in the presbytery, slightly raised, the marble balustrades and the altarpiece.
The church is not open to the public.
In the upper part of the village of Lenno stands the Abbey of Acquafredda from where you can take different directions and follow different itineraries.
Amongst others, we suggest the walk to the Abbey of San Benedetto, already described in the paragraph about the village of Ossuccio, and the excursion to Narro, a unique panoramic point, where you can enjoy a breath of genuine air and an enchanting view of the lake, Bellagio, the Balbianello peninsula and the Comacina Island.
The village of Tremezzo joins a hilly hinterland, where we find the historical centres of Balogno, Intignano, Rogaro, Viano, and Volesio, with a tourist lakefront, characterized by sumptuous villas and luxury hotels.
The only village in the province of Como belonging to the exclusive club of the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy, Tremezzo is a renowned tourist resort that has hosted illustrious personalities such as Giuseppe Verdi, Giuseppe Parini, Queen Victoria of England and the Kraiser William II.
To discover its wonders, we take the historic centre of Bolvedro as our starting point, following the route of the Greenway.
The hamlet of Bolvedro is situated in a sunny position on the lake shore, next to the Bolvedro stream.
It is a small agglomeration of houses, embellished by the presence of some majestic stately villas, such as Villa Sola Cabiati “La Quiete”, with its elegant Italian garden, the eclectic Villa Pensiero and the seventeenth-century Villa Albertoni Pirelli “Carlia” and Villa Amila, clearly visible above all from the lake and built in 1931 by the architect Pietro Lingeri.
The imposing Church of San Lorenzo, in eclectic style, is the result of the reconstruction started during the 18th century and completed in the 20th century.
The church has an octagonal central plan and is characterised on the outside by two-coloured horizontal bands that also cover the structure of the bell tower. The façade, underlined by simple pilasters, presents elements of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque taste: the portal, the central rose window, the small hanging arches in terracotta, the terminal gugliotti.
The vast interior is marked by a double order of pilasters with an eclectic decoration with geometric motifs that continues along the walls.
In the central vault, within neo-Gothic frames, the figures of the Evangelists and Faith, Hope, Charity and the Roman Church are represented. The pictorial decoration includes the busts of Saints in the corners above the arches, the vaults of the side chapels and in the presbytery the scene of the Glory of San Lorenzo in the vault, the figures of Saints in the pendentives, the scene of Jesus surrounded by Angels in the cap and two scenes with Episodes from the Life of San Lorenzo on the side walls.
The chapels at the sides of the presbytery house the furnishings of the side altars of the ancient church: on the left a black marble altar with twisted columns with an altarpiece by Federico Bianchi depicting the Madonna offering the Child to Sant’Antonio of Padua, on the right a canvas by Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari representing Sant’Antonio, San Sebastiano and San Rocco within a black marble frame.
On the left side of the church is the cine-theatre building dedicated to Teresio Olivelli, built in 1950 for the parish oratory designed by the architect Pietro Lingeri, one of the main protagonists of Larian rationalism, originally from Tremezzo.
The Teresio Olivelli Park, located on the shores of Lake Como just after the church of San Lorenzo, is a small botanical and architectural jewel where, again, you find works by the rationalist architect Lingeri, a monumental staircase and an eighteenth-century tarot card, made in 1925.
The park, especially during the summer months, is used by bathers and is a perfect place to meet and relax, in the shade of its imposing trees or sitting at the tables of its small bar.
Originally part of the Villa Meier complex, the park, now owned by the municipality of Tremezzina, which bought it and opened it to the public, owes its current layout to the commission that the then Meier owners gave in 1925 to architect Pietro Lingeri, a friend and colleague of Giuseppe Terragni and, like him, a member of the group of rationalist architects in Como.
Leaving the park and continuing along the lakeside promenade, the next point of interest you come across is the Museo del Paesaggio del Lago di Como (Lake Como Landscape Museum), located in Villa Mainona, the former residence of the Mainoni family.
The architectural complex includes the park, the villa, some outbuildings and a tower.
The recently opened museum focuses on the presentation of the environmental and cultural values of the Lake Como landscape with a special focus on the Tremezzina area.
Visiting it is like taking a plunge into the history of Lake Como, through a collection of ancient prints, from the 16th to the 19th century, loaned by the heirs of Giorgio Bordoli Crivelli Visconti, who offer a fascinating glimpse of the Lario, and a multimedia system with touch screen tables that allows you to compare maps and historical images with the current layout of the area.
A special section of the multimedia system is dedicated to Cinema on the Lario and includes short films, synthetic cards of the films shot on the lake and an indication of the places that hosted the filming (from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden of 1925 to Star Wars Episode II and Ocean′s Twelwe).
Villa “Mainona”, seat of the museum, represents one of the first historically documented examples of a manor house, with a large garden built along the shore of Lake Como. The building was built, in fact, in the second half of the 17th century for the Mainoni family, originally from Intignano, one of the historical hamlets of Tremezzo.
Around the building there was a large garden that was used for the production of citrus fruits (lemons, cedars) through the construction of special buildings for the shelter of plants.
In 1827 the last heir of the Mainoni family, woman Luigia Mainoni, decided to sell the villa to her sons Giacomo, Teresa and Carolina Scorpioni. After other changes of ownership in the twentieth century the villa, now known as “Bolivian”, was used as the seat of the “Mina Mosca” nursery school.
Today, after various restoration works, it is the main seat of the Museo del Paesaggio del Lago di Como and offers exhibition spaces and spaces for communication, quality training and professional updating.
The small church of San Bartolomeo was the object of a radical renovation in the Baroque period.
The façade is bordered by two corner pilasters and has an elegant stone portal in the centre with a broken tympanum.
The interior, with a single nave with two side chapels, is marked by pilasters and is decorated with a nineteenth-century decoration on the vault. On the right side there is the chapel of the cross with a tondo representing Ecce Homo. The left chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, is decorated with elegant stuccoes and preserves the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows in a niche.
Note the high altar, coming from the ancient Oratory of Sommariva of Villa Carlotta, and its rich baroque design with two twisted columns that frame the altarpiece, which depicts the Martyrdom of San Bartolomeo. On the sides of the altar in niches there are two statues of Bishops.
Past the church of San Bartolomeo we enter the historic centre of Tremezzo, a cluster of old houses, characterized by a beautiful walk under the arcades, overlooked by small shops and restaurants.
Situated in a sunny position on the shore of the lake, the historical centre of Tremezzo has in part the typical comb-like structure of the ancient hamlets on the lake, with houses embellished with elegant gates and overlooking the shore and stepped streets that climb towards the slope of the mountain.
But here you can also breathe intensely the tourist vocation of the Tremezzina, expressed by large and renowned hotels such as the Albergo Bazzoni, built in the 19th century and the splendid Grand Hotel Tremezzo, an elegant building characterised by Art Nouveau motifs and decorations and inaugurated on 16th July 1910.
On the border with the Grand Hotel Tremezzo there is the wonderful Villa Carlotta, a place of rare beauty, located in a panoramic position on the shore of Lake Como, in front of a breathtaking scenery on Mount Grigna e and the village of Bellagio.
The villa is famous both for the art collections kept inside and for the magnificent botanical park of 70,000 square meters, which boasts an amazing spring flowering of rhododendrons and azaleas in over 150 varieties.
The villa, built at the end of the seventeenth century at the behest of Marquis Giorgio II Clerici, is composed of a compact block with a “C” shaped plan developed on three floors with a facade marked by simple rusticated pilasters, in which two serlianas open up, underlining the main entrance and the opening above on the main floor.
The Italian-style garden in front of the villa has maintained its original layout and is enriched by a stone balustrade decorated with allegorical figures and a fountain with the statue of Arione of Metimna.
The rooms on the ground floor are in neoclassical style and are dedicated to the exhibition of the art collection. Here you can admire numerous masterpieces, including:
The rooms on the piano nobile preserve period furnishings, but also some wooden ceilings with 18th century decorations.
Don’t miss a visit to the park, known for the extraordinary spring blooming of rhododendrons and azaleas. The botanical collections and landscape views make it an unmissable destination all year round.
Near the entrance to the villa is the Sommariva family oratory, owned by the Parish, a neoclassical building created by Giacomo Moraglia, which houses the funeral monument of Gian Battista Sommariva, sculpted by Pompeo Marchesi, and other valuable sculptures made by Pietro Tenerani, Gaetano Manfredini, Camillo Pacetti and Benedetto Cacciatori.
The villa is usually open from mid March to the beginning of November; the Oratorio Sommariva can be visited only on certain dates, to be checked with the villa itself.
We would like to point out that Villa Carlotta is also part of the innovative Artway project, an intelligent videoguide on tablet that allows you to discover the most famous attractions of the Tremezzina. The tablets with ARTWAY videoguides can be rented at the ticket office.
To complete your visit to the village of Tremezzo we suggest you also take a tour of its historical hamlets located mostly in the hilly part of the village, which can be easily reached by following both the internal alleys that branch off from the hamlets at the lake, and the carriage road that goes up to the mountain from the small roundabout at the Parco Teresio Olivelli.
Following the signs and after a few hairpin bends you will reach the historical hamltes of Balogno and Volesio where you can admire stately buildings dating back to the second half of the seventeenth century, a group of farmhouses and the Church of Santi Pietro and Paolo, the historic centre of Viano, with its small church dedicated to San Rocco, that of Intignano and on the opposite side of the river, the historic centre of Rogaro.
The latter, situated on a plateau that gradually descends towards the lake, is a tiny rural hamlet composed of a group of farmhouses gathered around the baroque square of the Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln and still surrounded by meadows and woods.
Not to be missed, not far from the historical hamlet, is the medieval Tower of Rogaro, situated in a splendid panoramic position.
Of course also starting from the village of Tremezzo there are many possible walks and excursions.
We suggest you an easy one, the one to the panoramic point of the Chapel of the Alpini.
In about 25 minutes, following the mule track that starts from the hamlet of Rogaro, you reach a small chapel, from which you can enjoy a splendid panoramic view of Lake Como, Villa Balbianello and Bellagio.
Romanesque is the phase of European medieval art that developed from the end of the 10th century until the affirmation of Gothic art, i.e. until the middle of the 12th century in France and the first decades of the following century in other European countries (Italy, England, Germany, Spain). In particular, on Lake Como, it developed between the 10th and 13th centuries.
It is defined with this term because the building techniques refer to the classical Roman tradition and, even if it differs from the latter from many points of view, some characteristics are common. The Romanesque style mainly renewed the architecture and monumental sculpture.
The regional differences are a consequence of the need for local adaptation, while the basic lines can be traced back to the cultural homogeneity of Europe, the rapid spread of ideas through the increased mobility of goods and people, be they merchants, marching armies or pilgrims, not forgetting the unifying element of the Christian religion.
Romanesque architecture is characterised by the use of vaulted roofs, in particular cross vaults and blind arches on the exterior walls.
The most frequent planimetric layout of Romanesque churches was the Latin cross; the nave was divided into rhythmic bays: the square span of the central nave generally corresponded in the side aisles to two bays that were square but halved on the side. The crypt was originally limited to the area below the choir, then it was extended as a hall crypt, almost to create a second lower church.
As for the sculptural decorative elements, such as capitals, architraves and archivolts of windows and portals, there are representations of the animal and plant world, or figures and narratives linked to sacred texts.
Romanesque painting, on the other hand, presents a tormented sensibility that represents above all the most dramatic themes of religion: hellish pains, vices, apocalypse, universal judgement. God is represented more as Rex (king) than as Dominus (lord). In fact, he is given regal attributes, symbols of universal power: the throne, the sun, the moon, the alpha, the omega, the vigilantes of John’s Apocalypse and sometimes the crown.
Next to these images we find Christ on the cross with his side wounded, but in an attitude of victory over death. With the support of the Church, the image of the God-Rex favours the power of kings and emperors against feudality: kings and emperors are earthly representations of God.
Next to this iconography appears that of the God-Man, Christ the Shepherd, Christ the Doctor, a Christ the Teacher with various Christological attributes: mystical mill and oil mill (Jesus’ fruitful sacrifice); cosmological Christ derived from the solar symbolism that appears at the centre of a wheel; the symbols of the vineyard and the bunch of grapes (with reference to the evangelical texts); the lion and the eagle are signs of power; the lyocorn is a symbol of purity; the pelican is a sign of sacrifice; the phoenix is a symbol of resurrection and immortality.
There are numerous examples of Romanesque architecture to be found along the itinerary to discover the Tremezzina: in Ossuccio the Church of Santi Giacomo and Filippo, the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, the Abbey of San Benedetto, the Church of Santi Agata and Sisinnio and the Church of Santi Eufemia and Vincenzo, in Lenno the Church of Sant’ Andrea, the Baptistery and the crypt of the Church of Santo Stefano and finally in Mezzegra the Church of San Vincenzo.
Italian rationalism is the architectural current that developed in Italy in the 1920s and 1930s in connection with the International Modern Movement, following the principles of functionalism, continuing in various ways until the 1970s.
In particular, we speak of rationalism in Como, referring to the artistic and architectural movement that developed in Como between the mid 1920s and early 1940s around the figure of the young Giuseppe Terragni and Pietro Lingeri. And it was Terragni’s Novocomum building (1927-1928), built with wall and glass surfaces, the first example of rationalist architecture in Italy.
The turmoil stirred up by the new architecture attracted considerable attention around the Larian city, which coincided with a series of public initiatives, such as the project for the Casa del Fascio, entrusted to Terragni in 1932 (and completed in 1936), and the competition for the City Master Plan (1934).
Born as an attempt to translate and apply to reality the utopia of reason as a principle of order, rationalism was an attempt to give positive responses to the demands for aesthetic renewal that emerged from the development of industrial society.
It was characterised by great constructive clarity, linearity and purity of form, the absence of ornamentation, the use of fundamental colours (especially white) and the recurrent use of economic materials such as reinforced concrete, glass and steel. Over time, from the search for optimisation of certain functions, such as living, the movement essentially translated into an amplification of technical, constructive and structural aesthetics.
Below are the main examples of rationalist style present in the itinerary to discover the Tremezzina: in Ossuccio Villa Leoni, the Houses of Artists and the War Memorial, in Tremezzo Villa Amila, the furnishings of the Teresio Olivelli Park and the cinema-theatre building.