Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ossuccio Lake Como-Italy | Sensational Views from a Panoramic Road.



Ossuccio is one of those extraordinary places on the shores of Lake Como,a gem of tourism in Italy where you can enjoy sensational views from a panoramic road flanking those stunning waters of that magnificent basin,something you have to see once in your life and after that sublime image you will never forget.

Situated along the National Road SS340 the Ancient Via Regina that marvellous oasis of peace and beauty with its charming medieval centre which completes the spectacular scenery of that small spectacular town of about 1000 inhabitants embraced  by one side  from the magnificent lake and protected by beautiful mountains on the other,Ossuccio is simply a great destination,a hymn to what of enchanting there is in that corner of Italy ; the Lario.

Situated on a small promontory from which you can admire a magnificent opening of the lake,that resort is like a wide window with views towards the splendid Tremezzo and Menaggio and admiring on the other side the other so famed headland where lies the wonderful pearl of the lake : Bellagio

Despite  the municipality has not an elevated number of inhabitants Ossuccio has several "frazioni" (neighbourhoods) such as Soccorso, Carate, Spurano, Grane, Mulina,Garzola and the Isola Comacina.

The centre of the resort is developed behind its promenade and Lido facing the Isola Comacina and flanking the national road which crosses the centre,Via Castelli is one of the main artery of the municipality,running from west to east parallel to the ancient Via Regina and reaching the Parco Pubblico Opera di Pia Giovio,a park which is the green lung of the resort.

From the northern side of that park start two streets from a rotunda such as Via Degli Ulivi and Via Provinciale which are the main axes entering in the centre and between them is mainly concentrated all the core of the old town.  

Thanks to its mild climate all year,cool evenings and nights,never too hot and never too cold in that town every visitor can breathe the magic and enchanting atmosphere of a destination absolutely unique.

Those sensational views and all around a natural fairytale environment with unforgettable landscapes are the places where prominent artists such as as Manzoni,Stendhal and also the famed Publius Virgiilius Maron well known simply as Virgil famous poet and philosopher from Mantua and one of the major exponents of the epic Latin poetry fell in love with the beauty Ossuccio and Isola Comacina.

A sort of terrestrial paradise and admiring sites like that a visitor can understand how such celebrated artists of our history found inspirations from there.All that is simple,it is enough a look and at first sight,that corner of land could be an endless list of the most beautiful adjectives. 

The town also has a very important historic past,thanks to an important strategic position apart its natural beauty it has always been desired and defended by its rulers in the course of its history.The former ancient settlers were the Ausuciates probably a population of Celt origin who gave the name Ausacium to their small village,name which appears today in the own Coat of Arms. 

Under Roman rule the former Ausacium was called Crisopolis name from ancient Greek heritage  and meaning golden town, from the composition of the words Criso  (gold)and Polis (town).

The Roman colonisation and culture played an important role in that area of the lake,during the operations of settlement,they discovered how was  fertile and productive that  land, thanks to its climate which never drops to cold temperatures and later it was named Conca dell´Olio which means basin of oil,due the presence of a kind of olive groves surrounding the town.

That cultivation started during the Roman Empire and from those olives is produced an olive oil of high quality with anti rheumatic and digestive properties,delicate and with a soft flavour,thanks to the local climate.

Despite several invasions after the fall of the Imperial Rome,the settlement started a new great period and to flourish during the period of the Byzantine Empire when it became a sort of dreamland of residence for many Patrician noble families who created there a very wealthy society and a relevant cultural growth.

The town thanks to its safe and strategic position on the lake with a wide view on the arm of the Lario was just like a check point towards dominating from its promontory all the south side of the lake and with a long opening towards north you can have a very ample view for several kilometres.

The consolidation under those new rulers in particular the long period lived under Lombard rule,changed the status of Ossuccio which had important autonomy and privileges in particular when the town was under the influence of the city of Bergamo for a period.Many are the historical events on the shores of Lake Como which the town and the island have also lived together in medieval time.

They became loyal allied of the Duchy of Milan against the city of Como a war which endured some years and called the Guerra dei Dieci Anni (war of the ten years).Ossuccio always  supported Milan with its territory as base,and Como considering the town as a rebel so close to its borders and helping the enemy,with an alliance with Frederick Barbarossa of Swabia and some other villages situated on the lake Como among them Sorico and Gravedona attacked and destroyed Ossuccio and Isola Comacina. 

It is from that period,that Ossuccio became a land under the influence of the city Capital of Lario, Como.According historic documentations since ancient time Ossuccio was a very safe place to hide and keep far from the enemies the governors and rulers treasures,including gold.

The history of Ossuccio continued with other rulers,it was for a short period under Spanish rule,during the Aragonese period,later under Napoleon influence before to be part of the Austrian Empire until the reunification of Italy in 1860 and part of the Italian Kingdom with the proclamation dated 1861.

It is really beautiful strolling the medieval centre of Ossuccio which has a very rich historic patrimony.The Romanesque Church Chiesa di San Giacomo a splendid Religious building dedicated  St.Jame  is absolutely one of the highlights of the town.

Built between the 10th and 12th century while the bell tower was added three century later.The interior due deterioration and other causes could not totally preserved series of relevant frescoes depicting religious themes as the four Evangelists and Bible scenes,it is anyway an important monument and historic patrimony of the town.

Worth a visit also the Chiesa di St.Maria Maddalena,the Church of St.Mary Madeleine.That Religious construction shows a sober aspect but with fine architectonic lines and particular details typical of the medieval Lombard school.

Erected between two different periods such as the 12th and the 13th centuryit is a strong stoned building,developed using stones coming from another centre of the lake,Moltrasio,it present on the facade a series of arcades forming a portico a some arched windows under a low roof.

Although of Romanesque style just like the Chiesa di San Giacomo previously mentioned the superb bell tower has a strong Gothic aspect because it replaced the previous existing.Inside you can admire a splendid semicircular apse and some medieval frescoes.

As many other towns on Lake Como also Ossuccio has splendid aristocratic and noble villas in front of that Church you can admire the beautiful Villa Leoni,the most important for prestige and fame is anyway Villa Giovio Balbiano a splendid mansion dated the late 16th century,former residence of the noble family Giovio and later of the Cardinal Gallio,who ordered a long restoration.

The villa had furthermore other owners,coming back to the Count Giovio in the late 18th century and later it housed another Cardinal : the Cardinal Angelo Durini.That latter owner was a lover of art and ordered to embellish the mansion with a splendid garden and a series of statues.After the death of the Cardinal the Villa had other owners and it was restored in the 60s once again.   

Another attraction in the Municipality is the Chiesa di Sant´Agata e San Sisinnio,a picturesque medieval Church built in medieval era,exactly the 6th century and further enlarged between the 7th and 10th century.Previously to those constructions probably in that place there was a necropolis,according some historic documentations were found also some tombs and rests of a previous temple.

Located on a charming hill,it reflects a typical Romanesque style and it contains some interesting works dating back the 16th century of Lombard School and some fragments of the medieval period.The Church was dedicated to San Sisinnio in the late 13th century while the dedication to the other St.Agata came in the 17th century.

The current resort has always kept since its foundation a strong and intense relationship with the nearest Isola Comacina an islet located very close to the inland,only 600,0 metres long and about 210,0 metres wide facing the coast offering with its scenic presence sensational view from that panoramic road called Via Regina.

That islet has a very long history.The name is probably a derivation from ancient languages meaning island in the lake Como,inhabited by Romans,there are not many sources about the most ancient inhabitants the Ausuncies.After the Roman period the island was used as refuge due the Lombard invasion of the Italic Peninsula.In the 11th century was founded a Church on that island the Basilica of Santa Eufemia,a desire by the Bishop Agrippino,who when died was buried there.

The island was in that time inhabited,probably site of an ancient centre in the pre Roman period and later used as Castrum by the Imperial rulers.That place has a long history and it is called by locals San Giovanni (St.John) for the small Baroque Church which was dedicated to that Saint and also named Castell which means Castle due the ancient defencive fortification erected along the perimeter of its territory.

Isola Comacina was also often very useful for the local inhabitants as refuge in cases of invasions.The Roman and Byzantine Empire were important steps in the development of that centre,which was later several times attacked and devastated before to be occupied by the Lombard for a long period.

When the Lombard conquered Ossuccio and Isola Comacina they used that islet as stronghold and as mentioned before,probably just like the Roman predecessors they placed the gold and the treasures fruits of their conquests in that place.

The islet kept for long time its ancient fortification  although it was several times sacked by Franks,Bavarians, Saxons,Como Troops and Swabians.After the war between Como and Milan,Isola Comacina was totally uninhabited and in the 17th century was built the Church of San Giovanni (St.John Church) erected next to the ancient Basilica.

There is a curious and peculiar history about that tiny island.After the1st World War with the fall of the Austrian Empire who ruled that land,the islet became a property of the Belgian King Albert,who received the islet from the ancient owner Carlo Caprani.Strange situation from that episode that place although in Italian territory was administrated by Belgium.

After a meeting in Milan between the Belgian Consul,Italian diplomatics and exponents of the Accademia delle Arti of Brera (the Academy of fine arts of Brera) the islet was incorporated in the Kingdom of Italy under Savoy rule.There was an idea to build there,a Hotel but it was never erected That picturesque place with its long history is today an emblematic symbol of Ossuccio and Lake Como.

Today every year in occasion of the Feast of St.Giovanni,celebrated on the 24th June,there is a spectacular event in Ossuccio,the inhabitants put many small wax lights in the lake around the island,to remember all the past inhabitants escaped from the attacks and invasions Ossuccio suffered and looking for refuge on the islet.That event is also celebrated with spectacular fireworks,which according the representation,are the attacks and the destruction of the area.  

A very spectacular place to admire the silhouette of Isola Comacina from a brilliant perspective is from a corner behind the small Museum Antiquarium,along the road Via Regina continuing to the local walkway from there you can see the northern side with its rounded tip.

Another brilliant place is approximately 400/500 metres before to enter in the centre along that magnificent panoramic road,the coast has a couple of curves forming a sort of small promontory.That place is great because apart the sensational views under you there is a picturesque small bay absolutely stunning and from there you can see the west cape with a view of the Church of San Giovanni,furthermore you will have a stupendous view of the Romanesque bell tower of the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena.

If you are there at sunset it is something of absolutely magic,admiring that stoned artistic masterpiece with the lake and the island,where colours,reflects,lights,  waters and art are melted forming real and divine poetry.

Another point particularly interesting and excellent if you like to take panoramic pictures is when you reach the municipality of Sala Comacina which is the town immediately south of Ossuccio coming from Colonno.

In that place there is another superb panoramic point,in the first curve you will have an ample frontal panoramic view of the island and the beautiful small peninsula with Villa Balbaniello and Lenno.From there you can also admire the opening of  the lake and a wide sinouous curve, and in addition on the opposite arm you will enjoy another magnificent view of Lezzeno,a picturesque town on the road leading to Bellagio. That place is absolutely stunning if you love to take some artistic photos and to make maybe some posters or an album with great panoramic pictures is totally recommended.


The Santuario del Sacro Monte di Ossuccio (Sanctuary of the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio) is situated about 1,5 kilometres from the centre of the town and it is particularly famous because some years ago was included in the list of the UNESCO as historic world patrimony.

That magnificent place dedicated to St.Mary of the Aid and it is an authentic masterpiece of art with 14 beautiful votive chapels dated the 17th and the 18th century representing the mysteries of the rosary and the splendid presence of over 200 statues in terracotta are something really splendid and  it is considered one of the most important Marian pilgrimage sites on the Lake Como.

Another relevant medieval building in the local territory is the Monastero di San Benedetto a splendid Monastery dated the 11th century.That religious building is situated approximately 4,5 kilometres from Ossuccio in Val Perlana a splendid small valley bordering the town,twenty minutes approximately by car.

It is a former ancient abbey of the Benedictine order,that monks community was very active on the lake in medieval era and they had many properties in the surrounding areas, ,including the current municipalities of Lenno and Colonno for many years.The construction is a splendid example of Romanesque art with three naves and  an impressive bell tower dominating the town.All around there is a fantastic verdant nature and also a path immersed in a marvellous natural scenery,which can be used as alternative to the car if you want to reach that beautiful Abbey walking (the excursion is about 2 hours). 

Ossuccio as every resort on the shores of Lake Como offers a big variety of activities linked to water sports,such as diving,sailing,windsurf and rowing.For the lovers of excursions there are many interesting places as discovering the nearest mountains.

One spectacular place is the Alpe di Lenno a magnificent place to practise trekking with several paths and with sensational views over the lake.Cycling on the lake is absolutely great and on the hills of Ossuccio there are many opportunity to enjoy a series of spectacular mountain bike trails too.

The cuisine of Ossuccio embraces the typical gastronomy of the lake.The fish is one of the typical gastronomic highlight,with the Lavarello and Alborelle,generally baked or fried or the famed  Missoltini,tastefully tiny fishes,salted,marinated and fried.

Another speciality is the famous Risotto con pesce Persico,a Risotto cocked with the addition of that local fish of freshwater.Other popular plate is the Polenta prepared with cheese but also according old local gastronomic traditions often accompanied by the Missoltini or by Brasato a traditional beef stew adding some vegetables.The area produces a particular tastefully kind of asparagus present in the local culinary recipes and generally cooked with butter,salt and olive oil.  

Ossuccio is situated approximately 75,0 kilometres from Milan about 1 hour driving from the Lombardy Capital via Motoway A9 Milano-Laghi-Como –Chiasso and 28,0 kilometres from Como.Once you are  in Como follows the signals to Menaggio taking the National Road Strada Statale 340 all along the spectacular lake coastline and in 40 minutes approximately from that city you will reach the resort.

Visiting a place as that resort is something absolutely great,it is one of the most picturesque corners of the lake,along that stupendous and stunning panoramic road you will have the opportunity to admire authentic gems of Lake Como,that unforgettable waters basin will show you all its unique charm.

The grandeur of the pearls of the Lario such as Bellagio,Varenna,Menaggio and Tremezzo are definitely the most superb and popular highlights well known all around the world for their beauty.

Next to those celebrated and prestigious noble destinations also Ossuccio has its unique and inimitable fascinating charm with its historic patrimomy,spectacular panoramic corners and that sensational image represented by the Isola Comacina on its side makes that place simply wonderful.Ashining jewel all to admire and remember,an unforgettable and indelible picture in the memory of every visitor.


Francesco Mari 


Recommended Hotels in Ossuccio Area

B&B Locanda Garzola -In Ossuccio
Grand Hotel Menaggio . Menaggio
Grand Hotel Cadenabbia - Griante e Cadenabbia
Hotel Lenno - Lenno

Recommended Restaurants in Ossuccio

Crotto La Sorgente
Trattoria del Santuario