Dongo, a village located on the north-western shore of Lake Como.

Home | North lake | Dongo


Dongo, a village located on the north-western shore of Lake Como. It entered modern history because the last act of fascism was consummated with the capture and killing of Mussolini by the partisans.

Overlooking the lake, facing the imposing Mount Legnone, the town is a fundamental stop on the ancient route that connects the shores of Lake Como to the Mesolcina Valley, in the Grisons. This communication route was used by Como merchants to reach Bellinzona and from there to Germany. In more recent times it has been traveled by smugglers. An important tourist and industrial center, Dongo rises on the plain originating from the mouth of the Albano stream. Of Roman origin, Dongo was one of the oldest churches in Como. Combined administratively with Gravedona and Sorico, it constituted the County of the Three Pievi that knew how to oppose also the armies of Barbarossa. It was then given to Tolomeo Gallio by Philip II of Spain in 1580.

Dongo is also famous for its spinning mills and ironworks.

From 1400 there were working ovens for working the iron extracted from the mines of the Valle Dogana. The oldest inhabited center is located in an elevated position in the hamlet of Martinique. From the narrow alleys that branch off from the square, one reaches the oldest settlements in the town that correspond to the hamlets of Barbignano, Martinique and Mossanzonico, even though the rapid economic development of the post-war period has led to a notable building expansion towards the plain of Consiglio di Rumo. The signs of faith in the town of Dongo are evident and numerous. Worthy of note is the Romanesque church of S. Maria in Martinique. Inside it preserves the remains of 15th century frescoes. Built between the 11th and 12th centuries, inside a nave enclosed by a semicircular apse, among the sacred furnishings, a processional cross in gilded silver by Francesco di Gregorio of 1513.

To visit

Near the bridge over the Albano we find the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime dating back to the year 1500, Madonna venerated as miraculous. Attached to the Sanctuary stands a large seventeenth-century Franciscan convent complex. The complex contains splendid frescoes, two cloisters and a precious library with over 23,000 volumes from the XV-XVIII centuries. It is preceded by a fourteenth-century portico supported by four granite columns. The interior has a single nave with four side chapels. The church is richly adorned with wooden statues. First of all the group related to the Last Supper, but the real treasure is the library with ancient and prestigious texts.

The presbytery chapel is decorated with excellent paintings. The frescoes date back to 1599, but the most valuable elements are the wooden works that adorn the Chapels of the Crucifix and the Last Supper. While the Chapel of the Crucifix is ​​composed of seven statues, the Last Supper comprises thirteen that depict Jesus and the twelve Apostles. It is an intense work of great artistic interest. The frescoes on the walls of the Chapels of the Crucifix and the Last Supper are by the artist Andrea Gabasio known as the Pelagin (1603).

The dedication of the Parish to the martyr Stephen is a sign of the importance of Dongo as an ancient center of the spread of Christianity in the Como area, like Sorico, Menaggio and Lenno, the sites of ancient churches also dedicated to Santo Stefano. Little is known about the older history of the building. The parchments kept in the parish archive, dated 1119, speak of a cult building of no large dimensions and around which the faithful buried the dead.

A second construction phase certainly dates back to the Gothic era. In fact, in 1315 the church was remodeled. The interior spaces divided into three apsidal aisles, of which the smaller ones have a vaulted ceiling and the very high central one with a wooden ceiling. The late-medieval architectural structure was modified starting from 1716 with reconstruction works made necessary by the continuous flooding of the lake. The interior space was divided into a single nave. In the central apse the vast presbytery was delimited and the two side apses were used as subsidiary premises.

During the works the valuable fifteenth-century baptismal font and traces of the decoration of the previous Gothic church came to light. The work was completed in 1735 but throughout the eighteenth century the church continued to be enriched with valuable works of art and decorations. Inside, dominated by the Baroque taste, the gaze is captured by the grandeur of the nave, with a vaulted roof, punctuated by pilasters surmounted by elegant Ionic-Corinthian capitals. It attracts the splendid high altar and the four preciously frescoed side altars. Along the nave, at half height, ten niches open. There are as many large statues in stucco, an eighteenth-century work by the important sculptor Stefano Salterio from Laglio.

In a dominant position, in the hamlet of Barbignano, there is instead the small 17th century church of S. Gottardo, patron saint of Dongo. Inside you can admire a splendid altarpiece depicting the Glory of Saint Gotthard of the Crema Gian Giacomo Barbello (1604-1656). The first stone was placed by the then Archpriest Carlo Manzi, on 21 June 1652. In the following years, the beautiful portico was built, the bell tower and gradually, it was equipped with bells. The hamlet of Barbignano is home to the small church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart built in the early 1900s. It is linked to the memories of Blessed Enrico Rebuschini (1860-1938). In Mossanzonico stands the fifteenth-century oratory of S. Lorenzo with valuable wooden statues made by the Ligurian sculptor Antonio Maria Maragliano (1664-1741).

The historic center of the town winds around the Paracchini square, dominated by the neoclassical facade of Palazzo Manzi. Seat of the Town Hall, it was built at the beginning of the 19th century for a noble local family. On the first floor, the palace contains rich and sumptuous rooms, such as the Sala d’Oro, so named for the dominant color of the furnishings, the ancient library and the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, which can be accessed from the porch for a wide staircase. It constitutes one of the most expressive examples of Neoclassicism in Alto Lario. On the ground floor there is also the interesting Comasca Resistance Museum. Hikers can reach the mountain village of Dosso del Liro, surrounded by nature among chestnut and beech woods, where you can meet chamois, deer and roe deer.

Dongo is also one of the privileged places for water sports. In fact there are schools, rental points, clubs and beautiful beaches where you can spend memorable days. The town enjoys a wonderful view up to Bellagio and towards Gravedona.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Could it be interesting for you