Como is a city in the Italian region of Lombardy, 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Milan. Situated at the southern tip of the south-west arm of Lake Como, it is the capital of the province of Como.
The hills surrounding the current location of Como were inhabited in prehistoric times, at least since the Bronze Age. Remains of settlements are still present on the wood covered the hills in the South West of the town. People who inhabited these settlements were known as the Orobii, a Celtic tribe.
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, Mussolini was taken prisoner and then shot by Comaschi partisans in Giulino di Mezzegra, a small town on the north shores of Como Lake.
As a curiosity, the Rockefeller fountain that today stands in the Bronx Zoo in New York City was once in the main square by the lakeside. It was bought by William Rockefeller in 1902.
Some of the most important places to visit can be considered:
Duomo (Cathedral), begun in 1396 on the site of the previous Romanesque church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The façade was built in 1457, with the notable 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.
San Fedele, a Romanesque church erected around 1120 over a pre-existing central plan edifice. The contemporary 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, but largely renovated in the 20th century. The interior and the annexed cloister have frescoes from the 15th-17th centuries, but most of the decoration comes from the Baroque era.
The Romanesque basilica of Sant’Abbondio, consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II. The interior, with a nave and four aisles, contains beautiful paintings dating to the 11th century and frescoes from the 14th.
According to tradition, it was founded re-using a former temple of the God Mercury to house the remains of St. Carpophorus and other local martyrs.
Villa Olmo, built from 1797 in neoclassicist style by the Odescalchi family. It housed Napoleon Bonaparte, Ugo Foscolo, Metternich, Emperor Francis Ferdinand I, Giuseppe Garibaldi and other eminent figures. It is now seat of exhibitions.
The funicolare (funicular) connects the centre of Como with Brunate, a small village (1800 inhabitants) on a mountain at 715 meters above sea level. The journey takes about 7 minutes and the view is worth the trip: it can also be the starting point for a stroll on the mountains.
The boats of Navigazione Lago di Como connect the town with most of the villages sitting on the shores of the lake, the former are slower and right for sightseeing, the latter are faster and make less stops.