This small wooded island located opposite Ossuccio and Sala Comacina, is the only island in Lake Como. There are ancient remains of homes dating from Roman times, late Medieval fortifications and early Christian churches. On the island you can visit the San Giacomo church which is Romanesque in style as well as the bell tower with the the Santa Maria Maddalena nearby.
You can take the boat across to the island to dine in the famous restaurant The Locanda. Once landed, you will be greeted by the owner of the restaurant, Benvenuto Puricelli (also known as the “Oste” – an old fashioned word for “owner of a pub”). The tour of the island will take approximately one hour after which, there will be a stop-over at the bar “La Botte” for a cool drink before returning to The Locanda where you can sit down and enjoy a meal where many celebrities have dined.
Isola Comacina is steeped in history as it was besieged many times during the Longobard domination. In the late 6th century when the Lombards controlled surrounding areas of Lake Como, Isola Comacina was a remaining Roman stronghold under Francio, a subordinate of Narses. However this did not last and eventually the island was besieged for a period of time by the Lombards under Authari who released Francio to flee back to Narses’ capital at Ravenna. The Lombards found “many riches” deposited on the island that had been put there for safekeeping by local Roman loyalists.
Economic and political importance starts to rise during the Middle Ages and the island strikes up friendly relations with Milan. In 1118, the legendary war between Como and Milan begins, with the island allied with Milan. In 1127, Como loses the war and the Isola Comacina became the biggest political centre in the region. Como then rose again with the protection of the Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. In 1169 the warriors of Como, with the help of Barbarossa, invaded the island resulting in carnage and destruction. The fortifications were demolished to such an extent that they would not be able to be rebuilt and only one church remained standing. The island was excommunicated by Bishop Vidulfo of Como and it was centuries later before people began to build and live on the island again.
In 1919 the island was given to Belgium, in homage to King Albert I who ordered the construction of houses for Artists however the island was returned the following year after his death.
Regardless of it’s size, you will be amazed at the discoveries on the island;churches and the buildings which were once there in great numbers before being destroyed by the Como Army, are now buried between woods and clearings. Isola Comacina remains popular with tourists and locals and is not to be missed.