I finally got to see Como, a city older than Rome, rich in history where ancient Romans had driven away the Celtic tribes inhabiting the shores. It was here where Julius Caesar ordered 5,000 of his men to drain the swamp at the southern end of the lake and establish the first Roman city in the lake region.
Como is therefore delightfully enclosed within ancient walls, a showcase with great elegance and beauty, beyond which there are delightfully characteristic alleys and winding, cozy streets.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is the main place of worship in the city. Fondly referred to as Como Cathedral, it is truly spectacular and unique because it is made up of three styles: predominately Gothic, but also includes Renaissance and Baroque features. Built on the site of a torn down Romanesque church, construction began in 1396, ten years after the Duomo of Milan construction began, It took three and a half centuries to complete this dazzling beauty in 1770, with the creation of the beautiful dome by Filippo Juvarra.
I hired a guide to learn more about the evolutionary history of Como, knowing the influence of the wealthy Lombards of nearby Milan that came in the 16th century, finding a location where imported Chinese silkworms thrived on the lake’s native mulberry trees.
Vast fortunes were created and the industry thrives today, as Versace, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, and others continue to source their silk here. As I walked around with the guide in those quaint, tiny streets I saw many shops of all kinds, especially silk of course. The guide explained that until late 1900s Como was of primary importance worldwide for silk production, and Como is still a primary site for the industry.
I also saw many restaurants and cafes. It was nearing lunch time and it was difficult to pick one, but then I chose one with an inviting name and a short line of Italians outside: Il Tramezzino with the self-named specialty sandwich, the tramezzino. It is an unusual sandwich, a traditional Venetian variety, very tasty, but much more stuffed and softer than the usual ones. I ate three of them, each one different. They were made on the spot and the choice was quite extensive, even in the vegetarian options.
Then I continued my casual stroll through the city and came to a square with a statue in the middle. I learned it was a larger-than-life statue of Alessandro Volta, an engineer and physicist who invented the battery. He was also the one who identified, isolated and then discovered methane, very important for clean energy.
In the late1700s Volta made countless discoveries in the field of electricity, to the extent that as a tribute to him, the unit of measurement of the Volt is named in his honor.
From the square I arrived on the lakefront, magnificently surrounded by wooded hills and beautiful villas. It was relaxing to walk along the shore, surrounded by the blue of the water and all the green of the nature.
I therefore boarded a ferry to more fully enjoy the splendor of the region. I made this choice because the touring boats have large windows from which I was able to enjoy a full 360 view navigating Lake Como.