Como is a city in Lombardy, Italy, north of Milan. Situated at the southern tip of the south-west arm of Lake Como, it is the capital of the province of Como (Comm in the local dialect of Western Lombard language) and directly borders the Swiss town of Chiasso. Como contains these frazioni: Ponte Chiasso, Garzola, Sagnino, Monteolimpino, Tavernola, Camnago Volta, Lora, Prestino, Breccia, Rebbio, Civiglio, Muggió, Albate.
The hills surrounding the current location of Como have been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age, by a Celtic tribe known as the Orobii. Remains of settlements are still present on the wood covered hills to the South West of town.
Around the 1st Century BC, the territory became subject to the Romans. The town center was situated on the nearby hills, but it was then moved to its current location by order of Julius Caesar, who had the swamp near the southern tip of the lake drained and laid the plan of the walled city in the typical Roman grid of perpendicular streets. The newly founded town was named Novum Comum and had the status of municipium.
In 774, the town surrendered to invading Franks led by Charlemagne, and became a center of commercial exchange.
In 1127, Como lost a decade-long war with the nearby town of Milan. A few decades later, with the help of Frederick Barbarossa, the Comaschi could avenge their defeat when Milan was destroyed in 1162. Frederick promoted the construction of several defensive towers around the city limits, of which only one, the Baradello, remains.
Subsequently, the history of Como followed that of the Ducato di Milano, through the French invasion and the Spanish domination, until 1714, when the territory was taken by the Austrians. Napoleon descended into Lombardy in 1796 and ruled it until 1815, when the Austrian rule was resumed after the Congress of Vienna. Finally in 1859, with the arrival of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the town was freed from the Austrians and it became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy under the House of Savoy.
At the end of World War II, after passing through Como on his escape towards Switzerland, Mussolini was taken prisoner and then shot by Comaschi partisans in Giulino di Mezzegra, a small town on the north shores of Como Lake.
As a curiosity, the Rockefeller fountain that today stands in the Bronx Zoo in New York City was once in the main square by the lakeside. It was bought by William Rockefeller in 1902.
- Duomo (cathedral), begun in 1396 on the site of the previous Romanesque church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The façade was built in 1457, with the characteristic rose window and a portal flanked by two Renaissance statues of the famous Comaschi Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. The construction was finished in 1740. The interior is on the Latin cross plan, with Gothic nave and two aisles divided by pilasters, while the transept wing and the relative apses are from the Renaissance age. It includes a carved 16th century choir and tapestries on cartoons by Giuseppe Arcimboldi. The dome is a rococo structure by Filippo Juvarra. Other artworks include 16th-17th Century tapestries and 16th Century paintings by Bernardino Luini and Gaudenzio Ferrari.
- San Fedele, a Romanesque church erected around 1120 over a pre-existing central plan edifice. The original bell tower was rebuilt in modern times. The main feature is the famous Door of St. Fedele, carved with medieval decorations.
- Sant'Agostino, built by the Cistercians in the early 14th Century, heavily renovated in the 20th. The interior and adjoining cloister have 15th-17th Century frescoes, but most of the decoration is Baroque.
- The Romanesque basilica of Sant'Abbondio, consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II. The interior, with a nave and four aisles, contains paintings dating to the 11th Century and frescoes from the 14th.
- San Carpoforo (11th Century, apse and crypt from 12th Century). According to tradition, it was founded re-using a former temple of the God Mercury to house the remains of St. Carpophorus and other local martyrs.
Public edifices and other sights
- The ancient town hall, known as the Broletto
- Casa del Fascio, possibly Giuseppe Terragni's most famous work. It has been described as an early "landmark of modern European architecture".
- Monumento ai caduti by Giuseppe Terragni
- Teatro Sociale by Giuseppe Cusi
- Villa Olmo, built from 1797 in neoclassicist style by the Odescalchi family. It housed Napoleon, Ugo Foscolo, Prince Metternich, Emperor Francis Ferdinand I, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and other eminent figures. It is now seat of exhibitions.
- Villa Melzi (1808-1810), with a magnificent panorama over the Lake. It has a famous giardino all'Italiana. According to tradition, Franz Liszt composed here some of his most famous piano sonatas.
- Villa Carlotta (c. 1690). It has an English-style park, and a collection of marbles by Canova, reliefs by Thorvaldsen and others.
- Ancient walls (medieval)
- Castello Baradello, a small medieval castle.
Famous people associated with Como include:
- Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus; 23–79 CE), author, natural philosopher and naval and military commander known for the Naturalis Historia.
- Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus; 63–c.113 CE), a lawyer, an author and a natural philosopher of Ancient Rome.
- Caecilius c. 59 BCE A poet, the subject of Catullus's Carmina 35. He had a girlfriend. She was more learned than the Sapphic Muse.
- Benedetto Odescalchi (1611–1689) was Pope Innocent XI from 1676 until his death.
- Paolo Giovio (1483–1552), a physician, historian and biographer and particularly remembered as a chronicler of the Italian Wars.
- Alessandro Volta (1745–1827), a physicist known especially for the development of the battery in 1800.
- Mario Radice (1898-1987), abstract painter
- Manlio Rho (1901-1957), abstract painter
- Giuseppe Terragni (1904–1943), an architect and pioneer of the Italian modern movement who designed Como’s Casa del Fascio, a significant example of Fascist architecture in northern Italy.
- Giorgio Perlasca (1910-1992), posed as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary in the winter of 1944, and saved thousands of Jews from Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
- Gabriele Oriali (born 1952), 1982 Italian national team footballer World Champion.
- Max Papis (born 1969), Formula One, Champ Car, and NASCAR racing driver
- Paola Tagliabue (born 1976), world champion free diver in 2006.
- Gianluca Zambrotta (born 1977), an Italian international footballer and World Champion in Germany 2006.
- Floraleda Sacchi (born 1978), harpist and musicologist
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According to the Koppen climate classification
, Como, although in a mediterranean area, does not enjoy a typical mediterranean climate
, but has a humid subtropical climate
(Cfa) instead. Winters are usually dry and cold with averages in the low 40°Fs (~4–6°C) while summers are moderately wet and hot, with averages in the high 70°F (~24–26°C) range. Humidity levels are high all year round.
The economy of Como was traditionally based on industry – the city was world famous for its silk
manufacturers. In recent years, tourism
has become increasingly important. Many celebrities have homes on the shores of Lake Como
, such as Matthew Bellamy
, George Clooney
, Gianni Versace
, and Sylvester Stallone
. This has considerably heightened Como's international profile.
The Servizio Ferroviario Regionale (Regional Railway Service) connects Como by train to other major cities in Lombardy. Services are provided by Trenitalia
through two main stations: Como S. Giovanni (Trenitalia) and Como Lago (LeNORD). There is another urban station served by Trenitalia (Albate) and three more urban stations served by LeNORD (Como Borghi-Università, Como Camerlata and Grandate Breccia). A trip to Milan costs €3
.50 with LeNord and €6.50 with Trenitalia.
Como S. Giovanni is also a stop on the main North-South line between Milan Centrale and Zurich and Basel. Intercity and Eurostar trains stop at this station, which makes Como very accessible from the European express train network. Tickets can be purchased online from Rail Europe.
The local public transport network counts 10 urban (within city limits) lines and 'extra-urban' (crossing city limits) (C) lines connecting Como with most of its province centers. They are provided by ASF Linee
Line 1: Chiasso FS – S.Fermo
Line 3: Lora – Grandate
Line 4: S.Giovanni FS – Camnago V.
Line 5: S.Giovanni FS – Civiglio
Line 6: Maslianico – Albate
Line 7: Sagnino – Lora
Line 8: S.Giovanni FS – Casnate
Line 9: P.za Cavour – Cimitero
Line 10: Albate – Navedano
Line 11: P.Chiasso – Bassone
Line 12: Camerlata-S.Fermo-Tavernola
Urban bus tickets have to be bought before boarding the bus in newsstands or bars:
75 minutes ticket: €1.05
75 minutes ticket (on board): €2.00
One day ticket: €2.50
Ferrovie Nord Milano also provides other bus lines connecting Como to Varese in substitution of the original railway line that was dismissed in the 1960s.
The funicolare (funicular) connects the center of Como with Brunate, a small village (1800 inhabitants) on a mountain at 715 meters above sea level. The journey takes about 7 minutes and the view is worth the trip: it can also be the starting point for a stroll on the mountains.
The boats and hydrofoils (aliscafi) of Navigazione Lago di Como connect the town with most of the villages sitting on the shores of the lake; the former are slower and convenient for sightseeing, the latter are faster and stop at fewer locations.
A taxi service is provided by the Comune di Como.
Airports providing scheduled flights are Milano Malpensa
, Lugano Agno
), Milano Linate
, and Orio al Serio Airport
. Milano Malpensa can be reached in about one hour by car; about two hours by train to Stazione Centrale
(Milano Central) and then direct shuttle coach; or about an hour and a half by train for €8.10, interchange in Saronno
); Milano Linate
can be reached by car in about an hour, or by train to Stazione Centrale
and then local tram. Bergamo's Orio al Serio Airport
can be reached in about an hour and a quarter by car; in two hours by train to Milano Central and then half-hourly shuttle coach. Lugano Agno can be reached by train in an hour and a half (changing once and walking) but it only offers direct flights to Switzerland and Italy and generally higher-priced business class or private charter.
Como also has its own areoplane club with a fleet of sea planes, limited to flight training and local tour flights.
Trains from Zurich Flughafen to Como San Giovanni take four to five hours.
Notable sports clubs are Como Nuoto
, a swimming team, Pool Comense
, a basketball team, two time winner of the FIBA EuroLeague Women
, and Calcio Como
, a football team. There are also numerous recreational activities available for tourists such as pedal-boating, fishing, walking and seaplane rentals.