Como (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkɔːmo] (
|Città di Como|
View of Como city from Baradello Castle
Coat of arms
Location of Como in Lombardy
|Coordinates: 45°49′0″N 9°5′0″E|
|Roman foundation||196 BC|
|Frazioni||Albate, Breccia, Camerlata, Camnago Volta, Civiglio, Garzola, Lora, Monte Olimpino, Muggiò, Ponte Chiasso, Prestino, Rebbio, Sagnino, Tavernola|
|• Mayor||Mario Landriscina (since June 26, 2017) (centre-right)|
|• Total||37.34 km2 (14.42 sq mi)|
|Elevation||201 m (659 ft)|
|• Density||2,300/km2 (5,900/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||Saint Abbondio|
|Saint day||31 August|
Its proximity to Lake Como and to the Alps has made Como a tourist destination, and the city contains numerous works of art, churches, gardens, museums, theatres, parks and palaces: the Duomo, seat of the Diocese of Como; the Basilica of Sant'Abbondio; the Villa Olmo; the public gardens with the Tempio Voltiano; the Teatro Sociale; the Broletto or the city's medieval town hall; and the 20th century Casa del Fascio.
Como was the birthplace of many historical figures, including the poet Caecilius mentioned by Catullus in the 1st century BCE, writers Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, Pope Innocent XI, scientist Alessandro Volta, and Cosima Liszt, second wife of Richard Wagner and long-term director of the Bayreuth Festival.
The hills surrounding the current location of Como were 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 southwest 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 September 2018, Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli announced the discovery of around several hundred gold coins in the basement of the former Cressoni Theater (Teatro Cressoni) in a two-handled soapstone amphora, coins struck by emperors Honorius, Valentinian III, Leon I, Antonio and Libius Severus dating to 474AD.
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 were able to 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 Duchy of Milan, 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, Benito Mussolini was taken prisoner and then shot by partisans in Giulino di Mezzegra, a small town on the north shores of Lake Como.
In 2010, a motion by members of the nationalist Swiss People's Party (SVP) was submitted to the Swiss parliament requesting the admission of adjacent territories to the Swiss Confederation; Como (and its province) is one of these.
The Rockefeller fountain that today stands in the Bronx Zoo in New York City was once in the main square (Piazza Cavour) by the lakeside. It was bought by William Rockefeller in 1902 for 3,500 lire (the estimated equivalent then of $637).
Situated at the southern tip of the south-west arm of Lake Como, the city is located 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Milan; the city proper borders Switzerland and the communes of Blevio, Brunate, Capiago Intimiano, Casnate con Bernate, Cavallasca, Cernobbio, Grandate, Lipomo, Maslianico, Montano Lucino, San Fermo della Battaglia, Senna Comasco, Tavernerio, Torno and the Swiss towns of Chiasso and Vacallo. Nearby major cities are Varese, Lecco and Lugano.
- Albate – Muggiò – Acquanera
- Prestino – Camerlata – Breccia – Rebbio
- Camnago Volta
- City Center – West Como
- North Como – East Como
- Monte Olimpino – Ponte Chiasso – Sagnino – Tavernola
- Garzola – Civiglio
According to the Köppen climate classification, Como has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa); winters are not long, but foggy, damp and chilly with occasional periods of frost from the Siberian Anticyclone; spring and autumn are well marked and pleasant, while summer can be quite oppressive, hot and humid. Wind is quite rare; only sudden bursts of foehn or thunderstorms manage to sweep the air clean.
|Climate data for Como, Italy|
|Average high °C (°F)||6
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2
|Average low °C (°F)||−2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||52
|Average relative humidity (%)||84||76||69||74||72||71||73||72||74||81||85||86||76|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||59||97||151||176||209||242||285||253||187||129||65||58||1,911|
- Como Cathedral: Construction began 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 piers, 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.
- Basilica of Sant'Abbondio, a Romanesque structure 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 Saint Carpophorus and other local martyrs.
Secular buildings and monuments
- 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 (war memorial) by Giuseppe Terragni
- Teatro Sociale by Giuseppe Cusi in 1813
- Villa Olmo, built from 1797 in neoclassicist style by the Odescalchi family. It housed Napoleon, Ugo Foscolo, Prince Metternich, Archduke Franz Ferdinand I, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and other eminent figures. It is now a seat of exhibitions.
- Monumental Fountain also known as "Volta's Fountain", a monument to Volta's battery; it was designed by architect Carlo Cattaneo and painter Mario Radice and is a 9 m-high (30 ft) cement combination of alternating spheres and rings. It is in the center of Camerlata square.
- Ancient walls (medieval)
- the Tempio Voltiano, a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta, a famous Comasco engineer, physicist, and inventor
- the Life Electric, a modern sculpture made by Daniel Libeskind
- Castello Baradello, a small medieval castle overlooking the town and which is all that remains of the fortress constructed by Barbarossa c. 1158
The economy of Como, until the end of the 1980s, was traditionally based on industry; in particular, the city was world-famous for its silk manufacturers, but in recent years cheap competition from China has significantly reduced profit margins and many small and mid-sized firms have gone out of business. As a consequence manufacturing is no longer the economic driver, and the city has been absorbed into Milan's metropolitan area where it mainly provides workers to the service industry sector. A significant number of residents are employed in the nearby industrial areas of the Swiss towns of Lugano and Mendrisio, primarily in the industrial sector, health care services and in the hospitality industry; the 30 km (19 mi) commute is beneficial as wages in Switzerland are notably higher. For these reasons, tourism has become increasingly important for the local economy since the 1990s. The city and the lake have been chosen as the filming location for various recent popular feature films, and this, together with the increasing presence of celebrities who have bought lakeside properties, has heightened the city's international profile and given a further boost to international tourism.
The city of Como has seen its population count increase until it peaked at almost 100,000 inhabitants in the 1970s, when manufacturing, especially the silk industry, was in its boom years. As production began to decline, the population decreased by almost 20,000 people until the start of the 21st century, when the city saw its population grow again by more than six thousand, mainly because of immigration from Asia, Eastern Europe and North Africa. As of 31 December 2016, the population was 84,326 people of which 12,026 were resident aliens, that is, 14.1% of the total; the population distribution by origin was as follows:
The top 30 nationalities were:
In Como there are the following museums and exhibition centers:
- Museo Archeologico "P. Giovio" – archeological museum
- Museo Storico "Garibaldi" – a museum dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Tempio Voltiano – a museum devoted to Alessandro Volta's work
- Villa Olmo – various exhibitions
- Museo Didattico Della Seta – educational silk museum
- Museo Liceo classico "A. Volta" – scientific museum
- Pinacoteca Civica – paintings and artworks from Carolingian to modern era housed in the 17th-century Palazzo Volpi
Polenta is a popular dish in Como, and was traditionally eaten for meals in winter time. It is obtained by mixing and cooking corn flour and buckwheat. It is usually served with meat, game, cheese and sometimes fish; in fact, Polenta e Misultin (Alosa agone) is served in the restaurants in the Lake Como area.
A traditional dish is the Risotto con Filetti di Pesce Persico or simply Risotto al Pesce Persico (European perch filet risotto), a fish grown in Lake Como, prepared with white wine, onion, butter and wheat.
The Servizio Ferroviario Regionale (Regional Railway Service) connects Como by train to other major cities in Lombardy. Services are provided by Trenord through two main stations: Como San Giovanni and Como Nord Lago. There are five more urban stations (Albate-Camerlata, Albate-Trecallo, Como Borghi, Como Camerlata and Grandate-Breccia).
Como San Giovanni is also a stop on the main North-South line between Milan Centrale and Zürich HB and Basel SBB. Intercity and Eurostar trains stop at this station, which makes Como very accessible from the European express train network.
Buses and taxis
The local public transport network comprises 11 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 Autolinee.
A taxi service is provided by the Municipality of Como.
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.
Nearby airports providing scheduled flights are Milano–Malpensa, Milano Linate, Lugano Agno (in Switzerland) and Orio al Serio Airport near Bergamo. Milan–Malpensa Airport can be reached in about half an 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 (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 car in less than an hour or 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.
Trains from Como to Zurich Airport take three to four hours.
Como also has an "international" water aerodrome ("Idroscalo", ICAO code LILY) and seaplane base, which hosts its own aeroplane club with a fleet of sea planes, used for flight training and local tour flights. A hangar is available for aircraft maintenance and servicing.
Education and health
Notable sports clubs are the ASDG Comense 1872 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. Como also hosts a prestigious clay-court tennis tournament every year, the Città di Como Challenger, which attracts many of the world's top players who are not involved in the concurrent US Open (tennis). Many players have testified that they much prefer playing in the relaxed and friendly Como environs than the hustle and bustle of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. Previous champions include Pablo Carreño Busta, Viktor Troicki and the 2016 champion Kenny de Schepper who once again will be eschewing the US Open to defend his crown.
Born in Como
People born or raised in Como include:
- Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus; 23–79 CE), author, natural philosopher and naval and military commander known for the Naturalis Historia
- Caecilius (c. 59 CE), a poet, the subject of Catullus's Carmina 35, who had a girlfriend more learned than the Sapphic Muse
- Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus; 63–c.113 CE), lawyer, an author and a natural philosopher of Ancient Rome
- Agostina Camozzi (1435 - 1458), Roman Catholic professed religious from the Order of Saint Augustine beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on 19 September 1834
- Paolo Giovio (1483–1552), physician, historian and biographer remembered as a chronicler of the Italian Wars
- Benedetto Odescalchi (1611–1689), Pope Innocent XI from 1676 until his death
- Alessandro Volta (1745–1827), physicist known for the development of the battery in 1800
- Luigi Borgomainerio (1836–1876), caricaturist
- Cosima Liszt (1837–1930), Franz Liszt's daughter and Richard Wagner's wife
- Maria Roda (1877-?), Italian American anarchist-feminist
- Antonio Sant'Elia (1888–1916), architect
- Mario Radice (1898–1987), abstract painter
- Manlio Rho (1901–1957), abstract painter
- Carla Porta Musa (1902–2012), essayist, poet and unverified supercentenarian
- Giuseppe Terragni (1904–1943), an architect and pioneer of the Italian modern movement and rationalism
- Giorgio Perlasca (1910–1992), saved 5,218 Jews from transportation to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
- Antonio Spallino (1925–2017), Olympic fencer and mayor of Como from 1970 to 1985
- Gabriele Oriali (born 1952), 1982 Italian national team footballer World Champion
- Corrado Passera (born 1954), manager and banker, Minister of Economic Development of the Monti Cabinet
- Stefano Casiraghi (1960-1990), World Offshore Champion and second husband of Caroline Princess of Monaco
- Max Papis (born 1969), Formula One, Champ Car, and NASCAR racing driver
- Luisa Lambri (1969), artist, photographer, filmmaker
- Fabio Casartelli (1970–1995) cyclist and Olympic gold medalist
- Diego De Ascentis (born 1976), football midfielder
- Paola Tagliabue (born 1976), world champion free diver in 2006
- Gianluca Zambrotta (born 1977), international footballer and World Champion in Germany 2006
- Jennifer Isacco (born 1977), bobsledder, Olympic medallist in 2006
- Floraleda Sacchi (born 1978), harpist and musicologist
- Anna Cappellini (born 1987), ice dancer, olympian, two times national champion, European champion and world champion in 2014
- Francesca Rio (born 1990), figure skater, junior national champion and three-time national silver medallist
- Matteo Bianchetti (born 1993), captain of the Italian national under-21 football team
- Patrick Cutrone (Born 1998), footballer striker of AC Milan
These celebrities have lived in or owned properties in Como or on its lake:
Como is twinned with:
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Como.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Como.|
- Official website (in Italian) (in English)
- Official Tourism Portal
- Historical picture gallery and slideshow
- Official Tourist Board website (in Italian) (in English)
- Lake Como Navigation Company
- Official Virtual Tour
- A documentary about the Lake by Yann Arthus-Bertrand