Lake Como is quite big and there are plenty of places for you to discover: every day we strive to suggest to our guests something new to visit. Today is the turn of the Island of Comacina, hereafter a few suggestions on how best to explore it.
The island of Comacina is really really small, only 600 mt long and 200 mt wide, and it is situated in the municipality of Tremezzina. The main feature of this little island is its particularly mild climate. For this reason, even if it’s hard to believe at this latitude, olive trees grow here. People that live in the are also call this island ‘el castell’ (the castle).
A curiosity: the island of Comacina is actually private property. The original owner donated the island to the king of Belgium, who then gave it back to Italy. Afterwards, this small but lovely island was then granted to the Arts Academy of Brera in order to establish an artistic village and a hotel. Nowadays you will find, besides a church, an inn built in 1964 and three independent houses. The only historical building still standing is San Giovanni’s baroque little church, which also features Roman remains inside it. Still visible are also the remains of the Basilica of Sant’Eufemia built in the XI century and Santa Maria del Portico’s church (XII century), San Pietro in Castello’s church and two more dedicated to the saints Faustino and Giovita. It’s hard to believe that in such a small island there were once nine churches, all destroyed in 1169.
The origins of the island’s name are also not clear. Many think it comes from being an island in the Lake Como, others say it’s of Byzantine origin. The first inhabitants were Gauls and Romans, later on it was conquered by Goths, Byzantines and Langobardians. Many historical events took place on these waters, one of the most important being the dispute between Como and Milan, rivals in the control over the transport routes. Almost all the Lario’s lands sided against Como, leading Milan to victory. The defeated city had then its revenge, destroyed everything that was on the island and forbid any further construction. Since then no one ever lived on the island, and it is only in the XVII century that the small church of S. Giovanni was built.
An island full of charm and mystery: the time is always right for a visit to the Island of Comacina. The best time is although the Sunday closest to 24th of June, when you can take part to the traditional San Giovanni’s celebrations, made unique by the procession of boats. In this day we remember the destruction of the Island of Comacina. Thousands of ‘lumaghitt’, small floating lights, are set on the water, abandoned to the stream, in memory of the souls seeking salvation on the opposite shore, away from the flames that were devouring the island. An engaging fireworks display tells the story of the fire.
Visiting the Island of Comacina is an absolute must. Getting to it is very easy: just take the boat in front of the Hotel Posta Moltrasio, and in about an hour you’ll land on the island. Listen to my advice: it is really worth a visit!
Useful website: Navigazione Laghi
Photo Credit: http://www.isola-comacina.it/