The Abbey of Piona stands on a promontory at the foot of Mount Legnone, a few kilometers south of Colico; and is not very easy to get to. You can take a bus from Colico to Olgiasca and then walk for about 20 minutes or take a ferry to Piona, but in practice driving there could be the most convenient solution, if you don’t take the alternative lake cruise Como-Piona-Como, that I highly recommend. Driving isn’t without its problems. The roads to the abbey are typically narrow and twisting, you can miss the signposts, and at one point the average road surface runs out, and you find yourself driving on stones. But perhaps that’s how it should be – a metaphor for the difficulty of getting to heaven. And for the fact that the effort is worth it!
The first thing that strikes you about the Abbey of Piona is the atmosphere, which is calm and peaceful, but not oppressive. This has a lot to do with the way the buildings are constructed, with a mixture of different kinds of stone. The front of the church, in particular, changes its style of masonry about half way up. It should be a mess, but somehow it adds to the charm of the place. The practical arrangement of things also helps the easy-going atmosphere. For example, as you walk down an avenue of trees towards the Lake Como, you can stop halfway for ice cream or cold drink. And another feature contributing to the firm but the relaxed tone is the panoramic view of the Lake, with sailing boats in the foreground and Dongo, Gravedona, and Domaso at the foot of mountains in the background.
The interior parts of the Abbey open to the public include the church, cloister, Capitular Hall and a couple of shops selling products made ‘on the premises.’
The most striking features of the church are the decorated bronze doors; two marble lions you see as you enter; the irregular stonework and the lovely, ‘primitive’ frescoes lit up around the altar. It’s not difficult to imagine yourself in an earlier millennium when you sit in the church.
The small quadrangular cloister with its loggia style arches is a place of silence and highly symbolic visual communication. The four sides are representative of the four cardinal points – self-contempt, world contempt, love for others and love for God and these ‘themes’ are reflected in delightful frescoes on the walls of the ‘galleries.’ In the middle of the convent, a spring and a tree represent the spring of delight and the tree of life in the earthly paradise.
In addition to the small shop in the abbey, there is a big, new shop at the entrance/exit. There you can buy various types of liquor brewed at the Abbey; honey; herbal sweets to aid digestion; Abbey of Piona chocolate and creams said to be useful for a surprising range of ailments.
Where to stay in Como
There are hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check it out and make a reservation here.
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy
Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.
The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.
Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.
The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)