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Antico Foro Como
12 Sep

The Roman Como: an itinerary to discover the history of the city

Como is a city with many different faces. Places famous throughout the times for having breathtaking views over the lake, but the truth is that the city holds an ancient and interesting history that sometimes are forgotten. Other than just to take a nice walk along the lake and visit historical and artistic monuments (which I have already talked about in our blog), my advice is to dedicate a day to discover the history of this fascinating city.

The history of Como and the Archeologic Museum “Giovio”

The very first to live on the land were the “Orobi” and they were then invaded, in the fourth century BC, by the Gauls. The city wasn’t located where it is now but in the area when the town of Prestino is ofund today, and there a civilization called “comense” developed. In 196 BC the Gauls were finally conquered by the Romans, but only in 59 BC Caesar, who saw the land as strategically important, gave permission to found a colony, reclaiming the area facing the lake and diverting Cosia streams, Valduce and Rijeka Open. In 49 BC Como became a “municipium”, leaving behind several very interesting traces of that period, from a cultural point of view, historically rich. Did you already know that Como city was once Roman?

I advice you to start your itinerary furthering your knowledge of what I have just told you, with a visit to the Archeologic Museum “Giovio”, where you’ll be able to visti some very interesting features such as the head of Augustus, the relief of the Knights, useful tools in the everyday life, and a mosaic. Once you have deepened your historic knowledge of the facts of what was to come o in the city, head for the “Porta Torre”, the remains of the Praetoria Portal right next door.

Como and Porta Praetoria

The Praetoria Portal was built in the second half of the first century. a. C., but the remains are visible only since 2013: this is the main entrance portal out of four total around the surrounding wall of Como city during the Ceasarian era, perfect to accommodate those coming from Milan. The Praetoria Portal, at first, was supposed to have a symbolic function other than defensive. The walls that you can see during your visit are not the Roman walls of that time, but from the middle ages; this Barbarossa (Red Bears), after his defeat against the city of Milan, had the whole city rebuilt as an exact replica of the Roman model, with defensive walls on three sides, strong towers on each corner, and an entrance door at the center. The impressive 40m high Porta Torre fortress,  was built out of stone and mortar in 1192. This portal is the only one that has remained intact, and from here you can see the Towers Gattoni and Vitali.

Como’s old Thermal bath

To continue your exploration of the Roman Como you should visit the area around the Valduce Hospital, where some time ago thermal baths were found, some ancient graves and a furnace. The remains of the thermal baths  were found in the lower part of Autosilo Valduce and they probably date back to the first century  A.C., and they are visible on the ground floor of the building. The visit consists of several general halls,  excavations and two rooms with the finds exposed.Through various catwalks you can closely observe the Roman structures and immerse yourself in the impressive setting: a blast from the past!

Romanesque Monuments

If you want to deepen your knowledge of the history of the Como city even further after this sneak peak of archeology, dive into the discovery of the following time era; with a visit to the various Romanique monuments in the city, like for example the San Carporforo’s Basilica and the Middle Age Castle, built in the Emperor Barbarossa era, where only the main tower remains, the Baradello Tower. Another Roman building that you may come upon in Como city is the S. Fedele Church. All of these testimonies tell us about a city with a fascinating history, full of life, a life which we are able to imagine yet today. Visit the Archeologic Museum and you will have all the to see the city of Como from another angle! We are waiting for you, like always, with a smile!

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