Visiting the Island: a charming experience
Isola Comacina: Setting foot on Comacina Island, the unique island of Lake of Como, is always a stimulating experience in all seasons, even in the mists of autumn or under the rain. The scenery is bewitching at every time of the year. In the midst of an ancient setting on the shores of Spurano, among the picturesque fishermen’s houses, the small Romanesque-style church of S. Giacomo stands out and, a few steps away, next to the bell tower, you will find Santa Maria Maddalena.
The place is rich in history, art, tradition, and memories whose architectures and remains defy the passing of time.
There is so much to discover among the secluded corners and the open views; an aura of mystery lingers on the history of the Island, its inhabitants, the churches and the buildings which were once there in significant numbers and, destroyed by the soldiers of Como army, are now buried between woods and clearings.
Once landed, you will receive a warm welcome by the “Oste” ( an old-fashioned word for “owner of a pub,” this is the way Benvenuto Puricelli, the current owner, likes to call himself). After a tour of the Island, which will take no more than one hour, stop over at the bar “La Botte” for a refreshing drink before getting back to the Locanda where you will enjoy the pleasure of sharing a sumptuous meal while being waited on perfectly by the attentive staff.
Isola Comacina: Comments from an American tourist:
“…the fun was still brewing as the owner of the restaurant put out the lights and embarked on what is undoubtedly a classic performance after forty years and quite a crowd pleaser — casting out the curses of the evil Barbarossa (who once plundered the island) and invoking the spirits of more gentle protectors.
We couldn’t understand a word of Italian he droned in the style of ancient chant while he whirled, gestured broadly and lit the coffee brandy on fire in a thrilling display of happy pyrotechnics while the other guests (who could understand) laughed and sighed and whooped and cheered him on.
The language was universal, the theatrics self-explanatory. This was a restaurateur who has discovered a formula for keeping them coming by keeping them happy. After forty years, why mess with success? There’s little chance this man will be left lonely on that small island…”
Isola Comacina: History
Comacina Island became important for strategic and religious reasons at the time of the barbarian invasions, starting with the war between Greeks and Goths. In 539, troops of Burgundians and Alemannic ventured as far as Northern Italy. In 569, the ruthless Uraja conquered Milan; the wealthiest inhabitants of Como and the nearby villages gathered their riches and took refuge on the Island where they resisted against the barbaric enemies, as the last bulwark of the Christian world to defend liberty. In a short while, the small surface of the Island was covered with houses, churches, and fortifications. That was the time the Island was known as Cristopoli (City of Christ).
During the Middle Ages, both the Island, known as Isola Comense or Cumana and the nearby mainland achieved tremendous economic and political importance with the help of the bishop of Como. In 1118 a 10-year war between Como and Milan broke out; the Island allied with Milan, which defeated the enemy in 1127.
Isola Comacina: History with Como back
Como later rose again under Barbarossa’s protection. In 1169 soldiers from Como invaded the Island bringing death and ruin. They did it with the help of the three parishes of Dongo, Gravedona, and Sorico. In a decree of 1175 Barbarossa declared that nobody could build houses, churches or fortresses were ever on the Island.
Since then, nobody lived there because of the curse that Bishop Vidulf cast on it. “No longer shall bells ring, no stone shall be on a stone, nobody shall be the host, under pain of unnatural death.”
The bishop gave the Island to the Vacana family. Augusto Giuseppe Caprani, the owner, decided to bequeath the island to His Majesty Albert I King of Belgium. It was in 1914 a token of solidarity. The King of Belgium donated the Island to the Italian State in May 1920. He wanted to make it a retreat for Belgian and Italian artists. The Brera Academy took responsibility for supervision.
People built cottages to accommodate artists and scholars, and the Island became a cultural pole in the Como area.
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)