Lake Como legends: how was Grigna mount born?

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Grigna mount_Lake Como

Grigna mount legend:

A long time ago, nearby Lake Como, lived a warrior as pretty, as ruthless. One day, a brave and valiant knight saw her walking, in all her shining and proud majesty; and he couldn’t do nothing but desperately fall in love with that woman.

The knight couldn’t live without that marvelous and haughty creature, who bewitched him with her beauty and stole his soul; that is why he wanted to reach her, offering her his heart.

While on the road, the man was more and more determined to conquer her love: if he couldn’t, he would have preferred to die rather than a life without her.

So, he reached a hill where there was the lady’s castle: unfortunately, she saw him arriving and, when he went down the street to the fortress, she ordered a sentinel to kill him.

And so, it was…the poor lover fell, killed by the sentinel’s arrow.

God, after seeing what occurred, turned the cruel woman into a mountain (which was given the name of Grignone), and the sentinel into another mountain, Grignetta.

Despite everything, Grigna lovers keep to being attracted by the beautiful warrior and, in order to escape from the cruel fate she could reserve them, the climbers cross themselves before leaving for an excursion on the top.

Sweet, delicate and colorful: wisteria blooming on Lake Como

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Wisteria on Lake Como:

A sweet and lasting fragrance, a centuries-old life and the ability to grow everywhere: do you know which plant are we talking about? Sure, it’s the wisteria! It celebrates spring with its enchanting blooming and you can admire it also on Lake Como.

First, do you know its history? It carries the name of the scientist Caspar Wister, which moved from Scotland to Philadelphia to work in a hospital. When he died, his friend Thomas Nuttall decided to dedicate him this wonderful plant.

The wisteria sinensis is wide spread thanks to its violet-lilac, gently scented flowers; it can be 40 meters high and it blooms in April-May but if the winter was very cold, it may bloom 15 days later…and someone says that it was exactly a wisteria which cursed George Clooney, convincing him to buy his renowned villa on Lake Como. Do you believe it?

If you want to admire the wonderful blooming of wisteria on Lake Como, here are some places:Wisteria on Lake Como

-Como: there are majestic, beautiful wisterias along the so-called passeggiata Villa Olmo. Let yourself guide by their sweet scent!





-Bellagio: a majestic wisteria, which seems to dive into the blue of the lake, is located exactly in the city center.

© hotel florence bellagio

© hotel florence bellagio

-Varenna: there is a sort of “wisteria walk

-Menaggio: there is a wonderful wisteria along the lakefront


-Villa Carlotta

-Villa del Balbianello




The holy grail and Val Codera: Lake Como legends

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The Holy Grail and Val Codera

The Holy Grail and Val CoderaThe Holy Grail has been object of desire for theologians, archaeologists and so on. There are several histories about it, but the question is: if the grail really existed, where is it?

There is a place in Italy where this precious relic could be hidden: we are talking about Val Codera, and more precisely the small town of Novate Mezzola.

According to the legend, the Holy Grail was guarded for five centuries in the Aquae Silus church, in Britannia. At mid-VI century, because of the advance by the heathen army, the keepers decided to safe it by giving it to the Pope in Rome.

Among the keepers there was a priest who, during the trip, was forced to stop on Lake Como because of the invasion by the Langobards: the Grail was got to safety together with the Byzantines on Isola Comacina, formerly called Cristopolis, Time later, the Langobards prevailed against the Byzantines and gave them the island with its treasures…but not the Grail, obviously.

It started a long journey around Lake Como. In 589 it was brought to Piona abbey where it remained until 603; then a keeper moved it towards the mountains, in order to snatch it to the Queen Teodolinda; and then again brought to Colico, into an impassable valet which looks on the lake, the Val Codera, more specifically the so-called Saas Carlash, among the most evocative of the valley.The Holy Grail and Val Codera_1

When the Pope ordered the keepers to get the Grail back, all they found was a stone sweep: a landslide had made the passage unrecognizable and the Grail could not be found.

Nowadays, several people think that it is hidden in the valley.

The Holy Grail and Val Codera: truth or legend? You only have to go and look for it!


Risotto by Enrico Derflingher

A dish of “risotto” from Lake Como that conquered the taste of Queen Elizabeth II

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Risotto by Enrico Derflingher


Queen Victoria…not only the queen but also a risotto, a masterpiece by a prestigious chef. What makes it so important? Well, it was presented for the first time in the occasion of the first meeting between Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbačëv at the end of the Cold War, at the presence of heads of state and royals. And that’s not all: Queen Elizabeth II in person said she has just eaten the best risotto in her life!




Which chef are we talking about? Chef Enrico Derflingher, who was born in Lecco, Lake Como, and is, nowadays, one of the most renowned Italian chefs in the world.

Grown up in the main Michelin-rated restaurants, at 25 he was chosen as the personal chef of Charles and Diana, bringing the Italian cuisine to Buckingham Palace. So, he became the first and only Italian ever to be employed as Personal Chef to the British Royal Family after a long tradition of French cuisine. Then he literally crossed the ocean to arrive directly to the White House: there, he cooked each Sunday meat, pasta, lasagne, cannelloni and ravioli for George W. Bush Snr. and family, mixing up perfectly the Italian taste and ingredients with the American ones.

He was nominated four times among the top ten chefs for the “Five Star Diamond Award” as “One of the World’s Best Chefs”, he worked in Rome, St. Moritz and Japan (there he opened and managed more than thirty Italian restaurants, including the Armani Ginza Tower in Tokyo). He cooked at the official opening ceremonies at the Beijing and London Olympics and has also represented Italy at two G8s and the G20.

He also won several prizes and awards and now he is ready to come back to his roots: he will be by the side of Massimiliano Mandozzi at CastaDiva Resort, in Blevio.

bel_carnevale di schignano

Carnevale di Schignano, a folkloristic carnival which gives you unforgettable emotions

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Schignano, a small village of Val d’Intelvi where the green of the mountains seems to dive into the blue of Lake Como, is renowned for its picturesque and folkloristic carnival: Carnevale di Schignano.

It plays each year on Saturday and Mardi Gras and is, without doubt, one of the most famous carnival in the province of Como. You can taste the splendor of this event only if you watch it personally, since it is a real show…the atmosphere is an unforgettable mix of sounds: the concert played by hundreds of bells, now silvery, now off-key; overlapping to the sounds played by the band and, icing on the cake, the chatter by the Ciocia.

Carnevale di Schignano is based on the juxtaposition of two main characters, the Bel (beautiful) and the Brut (ugly). Noteworthy are the wooden masks, precisely hand-sculpted and jealously preserved and guarded…some of them date back to more than 200 years ago!

The masks:

Brut_carnevale di schignano


  • The Brut (ugly): hidden by mysterious, hand-sculpted masks, they capture the attention with jumps, falls and clothes recalling for a humble life; covered with rags, animal’s leather and heavy cowbells, they represent poor people, forced to live on pastoralism and agriculture. The neglected clothes, lined with straw, and the farmer tools integrate the costume.
  • The Bell or Mascarun (beautiful): the calm and straight stride, laces, crochets and the belly (the so-called butasc) empower elegance and royalty to the Mascarun. Accompanied by luxurious canes, umbrellas and gaudy fans, they exhort the Brut to stand up.bel_carnevale di schignano
  • The Ciocia: only one, shrill voice is allowed to speak during the carnival parades, the one of the Ciocia (wife and servant of the Mascarun). Know-it-all and critical, she is represented by a man who has the face dirty of smut and wears traditional clothes and wooden clogs; she wanders complaining about her husband’s vexations.
  • The Sapeur: with black-painted face and wearing clothes made of sheep’s leather, they are charged to open and guard the parade, carrying an axe in their hands.
  • The Sigurtà: it’s the mask representing the authorities.
  • The Carlisepp: it’s the puppet representing the carnival. Hung in the main square during festive days, it is intended to be burnt on Mardi Gras…but not before trying to escape, in a dramatic and incredible run between the crowd.

The parade is accompanied by the cheerful, tuneful sound played by the fugheta, and by the numerous participants.

In occasion of the parades, you can visit the costumes exhibition, set up in the center of Schignano.

All these elements contribute to make Carnevale di Schignano a unique event, a tradition jealously guarded an imparted from father to son.

So, when arriving to Schignano, don’t expect an aseptic and ordinary parade since you will find a captivating and merry mess of sounds, colors and magical atmosphere!

For more information, visit

The blaze of the Giubiana, a blend of history and tradition

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giubianaThe last Thursday night of January will be enlightened by several, small fires: in some areas of Piedmont and Lombardy (among which the Brianza), indeed, it is the night of the Giubiana.

There are several legends about this tradition, and they are different from town to town. The first tells that the Giubiana was a witch living in a wood; she was very tall, very thin and had long legs allowing her to move from tree to tree to scare anyone entering her territory. On the last Thursday of January, she looked for a child to eat, that is why a mother set her a trap: she prepared a big pot of risotto with saffron, a typical dish from Lombardy, added some sausages and put it out of the window. The witch, attracted by the smell, started to eat that delicious, tasteful dish…but, as everyone knows, witches cannot live in broad daylight. As soon as a ray of light touched her back, the Giubiana started to burn in a big fire. From that day, all the kids were saved, but to not forget this history, each year the people burn a puppet impersonating the Giubiana and eat a dish of risotto with sausage.

This celebration, however, has its roots to ancient worships: from Juno or Jupiter; from the Romans or from the Celts, in which the fire propitiated the new season.

The Giubiana in Cantù, not a witch but a beautiful lady.

According to the tradition, here the Giubiana was a young and beautiful lady who deceived the city. In 12th century Como and Milan were at war each other and Canturium (the ancient name of Cantù) was resisting from months to a siege. One night in January a priest received the visit of a young lady asking for a shelter: her face was so angelic and tender that the man exchanged her for the Virgin Mary and let her enter. Unfortunately, he made a big mistake: the lady, as beautiful as an angel but as terrible as a devil, used her charm to obtain the keys of the city and gave them to the enemy. Canturium was defeated from Como, but Milan won the war and condemned the lady to the blaze. This terrible judgment is renewed each year: a puppet is conducted with a parade to the main square of Cantù and burned.

Earth and water, lake and mountains: the two different souls of Lake Como

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The two different souls of Lake Como, the earth one and the water one, were the topic of a short film which was broadcast the last week in Italy.
the-two-souls-of-lake-como_mercato-copertoAgriculture is an important part in the economy of Lake Como, that is why is very important to preserve and protect the zero-mile food. If you want to buy some zero-mile products or simply take a look at them, just visit the so-called mercato coperto di Como (via Mentana): it was renovated in 2013 and houses the excellence of our territory. It is recognized as “historic market” (indeed, it was founded in 1934) and it’s a reference point for the people in Como to buy bread, fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. Furthermore, the peculiarity is that it offers the costumers a wide choice of high-quality zero-mile products, from cheese to vegetables, among which:

  • Zincarlin: it is an ancient cheese of Lake Como, produced at the mountain pastures using ricotta cheese mixed with salt and covered by pepper. Then, it is aged and eaten for Christmas.
  • Prosciutto de Comm: it is salted and aged for 6 months.
  • White potatoe: it’s ideal to prepare the purè and gnocchi
  • Remolaccio: it’s similar to the radish

The market is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Chilometro della conoscenza, a green path on the shores of Lake Como

the-two-souls-of-lake-como_lilium-orientaleLake…architecture…art…green, these are the ingredients forming the territory of Lake Como: another important element related to the nature is, in fact, the so-called Chilometro della conoscenza. It was created to put together all these elements, starting from Villa Olmo, Villa del Grumello and arriving to Villa Sucota. Villa del Grumello is unfortunately not so famous but is characterized by a greenhouse and garden which houses wonderful specimens of plant. Some of them are typical of Lake Como, for example the ficus pumila and the lilium orientale; the last one is cultivated in Brunate. That’s very important, since nursery gardening it’s another flagship of Lake Como: there are companies which count royal families among their customers.

Fish farming, an important sector for the economy of Lake Como

the-two-souls-of-lake-como_missoltiniA small studio in Lenno, fresh-caught Lake Como fish, some work tools and…that’s it! The agone becomes the famous Missoltino: it is gutted, washed and covered with salt, then put at least 48 hours in the fridge, washed again and dried 5 or 6 days. When the drying process is completed it is put into barrels and adorned with laurel leaves. After two or three months, the fish is ready and you can eat it with polenta (polenta e Missoltino is a typical dish of Lake Como). Missoltino, however, is not the only fish of our lake: there is also lavarello (lavaret), which is smoked with beech wood; its eggs (the so-called bottarga di lavarello) are dried and salted and then used for example to dress pasta. And…last but not the least, what about a tasteful fish ragù composed by lavaret, char and trout, exclusively zero-mile produced?

If you want to watch the documentary, here is the link


Italian blown glass Christmas ornaments bellagio

Bellagio, the guardian of Italian blown glass Christmas ornaments

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Italian blown glass Christmas ornaments lake comoGreen, colorful, big or small, real or artificial…a holidays’ symbol, adorned and decorated by following own personality and creativity…the’re the Italian blown glass Christmas ornaments!

Today Christmas tree is the best friend of lots of families all over the world….And once it wasn’t an Italian tradition! Indeed in the Catholic countries, such as Italy, instead of the others European countries, this tradition arrived late. That was because the real emblem of Christmas was the Nativity Scene. The northern part of Europe, full of Protestant countries, saw the arrival of this new tradition since the beginning of the Second World War.

The origins of Italian glass art.

Sit down and wait the 1940s, when the world of Christmas tree decoration arrived in Italy too. Karl Becker, a German entrepreneur and owner of La Florida, left his country and continued to produce artificial Christmas trees on sunny Lake Como. He got the cooperation of many Italian glassmakers, swamp by economic crisis. They left the production of goods for kitchens and glass bottles to dedicate to Italian glass bowls.

Thanks to the decline in the production of glass ornaments in Germany, Italy become the new center of glassmakers. In 1950s lots of Italian blown glass Christmas ornaments were exported to USA, sold as unique goods only in luxury stores and exclusive malls. Children could hang characters of Disney stories such as Peter Pan and miniatures of Sputnik, Paperino or Topolino. In 1960s Charlie Brown, the Beatles and Pink Panther entered the world of Christmas glass decorations.

Italian blown glass Christmas ornaments.

The production process uses, in addition to the creativity and imagination of the artist, the vetro soffiato a lume technique (blown glass candle technique). Starting from a pyrex glass heated tube, the glassmaker blows the preform to achieve the desired shape and then fixs to the central body the various completions. After stabilization in the oven, each piece is colored in silver and then decorated by hand with holly, candles, Christmas trees, stars, comets, bells and also fairy tales or movies’ characters.

Bellagio Christmas decorations.

Of course, in Bellagio there’s the ancient Italian tradition of glass blowing … something similar to Murano. Those who love the uniqueness and quality made of unique pieces, the result of a careful manual work by craftsmen, the reference point is this famous village, the guardian of Lake Como Christmas tradition. To visit Bellagio means not just to learn about the history and natural beauty, but also to learn more about the traditions of the past.

La Sava, artisan artistic glassmakers, is one of the most successful names in Bellagio. Mr. Brambilla and his daughter Annalisa founded this small company. For more than 40 years it continues to blow delicate and special pieces for their best customers. Its success went overseas, in the land of stars and stripes.

I Vetri di Bellagio, is a craft shop that could be seen strolling through the old town. Here you can buy blown glass items, hand-decorated objects and glass jewelry.

In 2009 was born also Gilardoni Decorazioni Natalizie with the objective to produce hand-made Christmas decorations.

Panettone: history, legend and tradition mixed in a single Christmas bread.

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panettone_ingredientsChristmas is coming and in Italy we usually eat Panettone, a sweet bread. It has a cupola shape and contains candied orange, citron, lemon zest and raisins. It is served in slices, vertically cut, accompanied with sweet hot beverages or a sweet wine.

The true origin of the cake can be found in the Middle Ages when people used to celebrate Christmas with a bread richer than the one ate every day. Nobody knows when it was exactly born, but it seems that its recipe was known since 1400; however, the Panettone is involved in mystery, that is why there are several legends about its birth.

  • The son of a love story: the first legend

According to the first legend, it was born by a love story: a noble knight from Milan, Ughetto degli Atellani, pretended to be the delivery boy of the baker Toni to conquer the beautiful Adalgisa. So, he decided to invent sweet bread rich of raisins and candied fruit, which became famous as “pane del Toni”.

  • “El pan de Toni”: the second legend

The second legend seems to be the most accredited: Milan and the fog, the fog which bites your bones and your nose. The fog which makes you lose the sense of time and makes the days endless. A day Toni, a lively and willing boy, wandered among the alleys of Milan looking for a job. Because of the confusion typical of the Christmas holidays, it accindentally entered the bread shop of Brera and he got a job as the scullery boy for the Duke Lodovico. The Christmas dinner arrived and he had to wash hundreds of dishes…at a certain moment, another scullery boy burned the dessert and Toni realized that he had to do something to save the dinner. That’s what he decided to cook a dessert using the leftovers: the non-burned dough, sugar, eggs, candied cedar and raisins. He prepared it to the others scullery boys, a poor dessert for poor people, “el pan de Toni

What is certain is that the original Panettone recipe has remained unvaried for 600 years. Nowadays it is a popular addition to the Christmas table also in southeastern France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Malta, Montenegro, Albania, Eritrea, Georgia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Australia.

Since 2005, it is protected by a ministerial decree which establishes its ingredients and the minimum percentage to be defined Panettone.


spanish painting jesus gravedona

The Spanish painting of Jesus in Italy: a piece of Spain in Gravedona.

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Spanish painting jesus italy

“Lake Como is the most beautiful Lake in the world!”…. This was the definition that Huffington Post gave to one of the twenty lakes considered the best for spending a wonderful holiday. Many years before, while Manzoni was setting its romance ”The Betrothed” on our lake, Giambattista Giovannini built a small oratory in Gravedona, dedicated to the Madonna de la Soledad and led there something unique…. It was the XVII century.

A dark background, the light and dark contrast and Christ crucifix covered only in the lower part of the body with a white cloth enhance by a lace strip. The suffering headspanish-painting-jesus-italy reclined and a tired face lined by blood. The eyes closed …the hands open and rend by spikes …the arms full of injures and sweat’s drops. The feet break by another cruel spike. Mateo Cerezo el Viejo was really inspired when he realized this Cristo di Burgos, a Spanish painting Jesus Italy in origin that was donated to Gravedona.

In a elegant, refined, sun kissed cove on the northern part of the Ypsilon shaped Italian lake …on a green huge bed…. this historical and religious village raises up, brushed by soft breeze in summer and whitened by frost in winter.

First discovered by Romans and Celts, in the XVI century the village became part of the Spanish monarchy.  The Reign of Naples, Sardinia, Holland, the south of Italy and some colonies in the so called “New World” were already part of the Spanish crown. Indeed only Sicily can praise another Cristo di Burgos, located in Scicli.

spanish painting jesus italy gravedona

Despite all the hurdles the masterpieces of this reign survived in their beauty and refinement.


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