Claino con Osteno

Claino con Osteno is a small town on Lake Lugano, belonging to the Intelvi valley.

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Claino con Osteno

Claino con Osteno is a small town on Lake Lugano, belonging to the Intelvi valley. It is made up of small hamlets Osteno, Rescia and Righeggia which are located by the lake. The others, Barclaino, San Lucio and Claino are in a higher position and dominate the lake with a splendid view.

The name of the place is given by the major fractions. The history of the town begins at least a thousand years before Christ, with the settlements of the Caslè and then of the Alpe di Verna. The hamlet of Barclaino is located in an elevated position on the Italian side of Lake Lugano. It stands on the foundations of an old fort and from the name of the only square in the town, Forte Square. The remains of the walls and a tower are still visible today. Throughout the Middle Ages and during the period of the Municipalities, the town constituted an important strategic point, given its position of entry into the Intelvi valley.


Note the small oratory of the Madonna delle Grazie, rich in frescoes and stuccoes from the 17th century. The church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul from the 13th century. It is enriched with frescoes and stuccos and is characterized by a picturesque baroque staircase. The village of Claino preserves a church of Romanesque origin dedicated to San Vincenzo with a semicircular apse and an imposing marble altar from the 1900s. Around it the nucleus of the town was formed. Even today you can see old houses with Romanesque portals, facades decorated with graffiti and frescoes, but also fortified houses from the Renaissance period.

Church of San Vincenzo

The parish church of S. Vincenzo in Claino is documented at the end of the 13th century. In the early fifteenth century a transverse forepart with a beautiful late-Gothic portal was built on the façade to house the baptistery. Inside we mention the Pietà painted by Gentilino in 1492; the terracotta of the Clainese Marco Antonio Prestinari, sketch of the work he sculpted in the Milan cathedral, depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds. Also a beautiful ancona of the late fifteenth century with the Virgin and Child with Saints; the eighteenth century Presentation at the Temple of Rocco Comanedi.

Far from the town of Claino, along the ancient path that led to Porlezza, stands the oratory of S. Giulia, which in the bell tower contains traces of a primitive Romanesque building. The oratory was almost entirely rebuilt in the seventeenth century and is preceded by a beautiful porch. Inside stucco statues by Francesco Prestinari (1640) and seventeenth-century paintings narrating the story of the Saint. Also in Claino, not far from the church, there is a strongly remodeled fifteenth-century palace. Of the ancient building, traces of masonry remain in well-aligned stone ashlars and some portals with a single-centered lowered semicircle, executed in stone square by the stonemason.

Church of San Rocco

The village of Righeggia is located west of Osteno. It is famous for having given birth to the Renaissance sculptor Andrea Bregno. It is very popular for tourism given its location on the shores of Lake Ceresio.

The small church of San Rocco, at the entrance to the hamlet, is very pretty and is distinguished by being plastered and painted with trompe l’oeil decorations. It is the only building in the Intelvi valley to have the wooden roof in sight, on the façade a decoration in two-tone bands from the 1600s. Inside, frescoed walls with 8 episodes from the life of Saint Roch built in the first half of the ‘600. Particularly beautiful is the frontal in scagliola made in 1659 and attributed to Andrea Solari. The decoration of this frontal was a reference model for many scagliolists in the Valley. Tradition has it that the building of S. Rocco, was carried out by the Ostenesi thanks to the escaped danger from the plague, along the road that led to the lazzaretto located near S. Margherita. It is possible to visit the interior of the oratory, exclusively during the week that coincides with the feast of St. Roch of August 16th.

The Orrido of Osteno

Osteno is a small village on the shores of Lake Lugano. In Osteno there is a beautiful horror now unknown to most because it has been closed for some decades. Towards the end of the 1800s and the first decades of the 1900s, the ravine was a popular tourist destination. From Lugano a special boat departed that stopped in Osteno, to allow the organized visit of the Orrido. The Orrido di Osteno was made famous by the writer Antonio Fogazzaro who described it in his novel Malombra and from which the director Mario Soldati made a film with some scenes in the Orrido. Even the Nobel Prize for Literature Luigi Pirandello names the Orrido di Osteno in the poem Lago di Lugano.

On the lakeside of Osteno, a town rich in evidence of the ancient village, the building of the praetorium stands out, leaning against the tower of medieval origin that served as a prison until the Napoleonic era. Osteno, home to numerous lineages of intelvese artists, holds several paintings and sculptures. In the Parish of the Saints Pietro and Paolo, we find the statue of the Madonna with the child of Bregno, the frescoes based on the style of Michelangelo, the baroque sculptures of Giovanni Battista Barberini and two paintings by Federico Ferrario.


The village of Rescia is located along the provincial road that from Osteno leads to Porlezza, consists of a few houses but is of great importance for the whole community given the presence of the Caves of Rescia which are the only caves in travertine existing on the Lombard territory , characterized by the presence of stalactites and stalagmites.

The fossils

Near Osteno, in the locality of Caslè, there is also a small fossil deposit that has the peculiarity of being totally fossilized. The peculiar characteristic of this field is the exceptional state of fossilization deriving from particular environmental conditions that have allowed the conservation also of the soft parts of the organisms that normally with the putrefaction disintegrate. For those wishing to see the fossils up close and have more details, you can visit the Fossil Museum in Scaria or in Milan in the natural history museum.

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