Located on the Swiss – Italian border, Como is the main metropolitan area of the Lake Como district. Most people visiting that region never leave the lakeside, and that’s a shame, because Como is a nice little town to visit. You can walk around the cool shade of the old buildings and soak in that Italian Renaissance atmosphere.
Como is really a must for any architecture buff. The most famous landmark is the Duomo at the Piazza Cavour with its gothic facade and renaissance dome. In the walled Old Town, there are many 400-year-old buildings, and two more magnificent basilicas to be admired. For a wonderful view of Lake Como, you can climb the Baradello Tower. If you walk along the lake, you will see the Tempio Voltiano, a shrine to Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the first reliable battery and name-giver of the term Volt.
Como developed during the Roman Empire to be the capital of a territory bordering with Milano and Bergamo. Later it became the headquarters of a Prefect and the base of a naval fleet. It had all the furnishings of a Roman city, like a stadium, gym, public baths and a theatre. Remnants of these can still be spotted in modern Como today: there are eight greenish striped Roman limestone columns in the portico of the Volta Liceum, various bits of the old city walls, and in the basement of the technical institute, the remains of the Porta Praetoria are still visible.
But Como is more than a collection of old buildings. It is renowned for it fine silks throughout the world. One of the towns major industries is in printing and dyeing silk, numerous workshops where ties and scarves are created and sold all over the world, silk spinning and marketing of clothing and furnishings. If you like silk, Como is the place to shop for it.
And then, after a hard day of shopping and taking in culture, there is still the lake. Arguably the most beautiful lake in Italy, it’s the perfect place to wash away the warm dust and recharge yourself for another day in one of Italy’s most popular regions.
Departing from the shore of Piazza Cavour in Como, chief town of the province and center of commerce and industry (especially in the sectors of textiles and silk), you can take a boat trip on Lake Como: the boat sails longitudinally along the entire basin for approximately four hours.
Formerly a Celtic fortification, Como became “Castrum” under Roman rule in the first century B.C.
More evident and of greater importance, is the testimony from the Romanesque period; examples may be found in the churches of Sant’Abbondio and San Fedele and in Porta Torre. In 1875, following the opening of via Plinio, Piazza Cavour was connected to the beautiful Piazza Duomo, the ancient religious and civic center of the city where the 14th cathedral stands completed with Juvarra’s dome in the 18th century. Next to it is the Romanesque-Gothic “Broletto”- the old Town Hall- built in 1215, it too underwent subsequent elaboration. On the left shore lies the Voltiano mausoleum, a neoclassic temple erected in 1927 by Federico Frigerio for the centennial of the death of Alessandro Volta.
Next to the temple is the War Memorial constructed in 1933 based on the designs of futuristic architect Antonio Sant’Elia. Not too far are the Giuseppe Sinigaglia Stadium and the Novocum (1927-29). Created by Giuseppe Terragni, the stadium is one of the best examples of Italian rationalist architecture. Along the banks of the lake there are several beautiful 18th and 19th century patrician villas surrounded by greenery: Villa Paravicino, Villa Resta Palladici (also known as “the Rotonda”), which is the seat of Regional Administration, the Gallia, a residence built for Marco Gallio in 1615, and last and most important, the Villa Olmo, named for the large elm tree (olmo) which survived from the woods of Pliny the Younger.
At the request of Innocenzo Odescalchi, the villa was constructed, based on the designs of Simone Cantini, at the end of the 18th century. Renovated one century later, the villa retained its neoclassic structure. Remarkable, on the opposite side of the shore is Villa Geno, which also belongs to the commune. This neoclassic structure, erected in 1850 based on a project by Giacomo Tazzini, is surrounded by a spacious public park in traditional Romantic-Age style.
Where to stay in Como
There are hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check it out and make a reservation here.