Larian Boat Museum

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Larian Boat Museum

The Larian Boat Museum, founded in 1982 in a nineteenth-century textile mill, contains over 500 boats and objects related to the history of navigation on Lake Como.

The museum space is spread over more than 9 thousand square meters, with several exhibition rooms arranged over three buildings. They are designed to accommodate a unique heritage of over 500 boats including sailboats, outboard motorboats, gondolas, typical Larian boats, sails, nets, oars and other nautical material. Everything is strictly vintage and original. Noteworthy is the period building that houses the thematic exhibitions. It is a former factory that represents by itself an interesting example of industrial archeology from the end of the 1800s.

The purpose of the Lariana Boat Museum is to tell, through the history of boating, an area rich in history and culture. The characteristic boats of Lake Como tell the story of this stretch of water that, always caressed by two contrary winds, has allowed a certain navigation when the propulsion was constituted only by the wind and the oars.

Passion of the Gian Alberto Zanoletti

Thanks to the work of the president, Ing. Adolfo Premoli, and his indefatigable deputy, Gian Alberto Zanoletti, sponsored by the Lombardy Region’s Department of Culture, embarked on this adventure. The building of an old textile mill was available in Pianello of Lario. The boats were arranged by hand, collected.

Born in 1943, Gian Alberto Zanoletti, Marquis of Rozzano, spent his summer holidays on Lake Como as a child, where as a teenager he began to frequent old fishermen and shipwrights. At 12 he receives his first dinghy as a gift. He is passionate about sailing and motor boating. His desire to do leads him to burn the stages. At only 17 years old he participates in the 100 mile nautical competition of the lake. On 2 October 1970 he beats the world speed record in his category. From a very young age he began his collection of wooden boats, well aware that these represent the memory of the lake. Sailboats, motorboats, gondolas, comballi, shuttles, work boats. Nothing escapes the expert eye of the Marquis who, over the years, collects hundreds of old wooden ladies, objects, photographs and stories.

The Larian Boat Collection

In order not to lose this cultural heritage, in 1976 an association of friends was formed who had already recovered some local boats. It was thought that, by combining efforts, it was possible to collect the types of boats still existing on the lake. In 1982 it was decided to give a certain order to the collection, accompanied by illustrative material, in order to offer a more complete vision and thus be able to open the collection to the public. A collection of inestimable value that aims to tell the history of boating in a particular area, Lake Como, rich in history and culture. The construction of this Larian museum has seen a very large participation of boatmen and fishermen. The contribution of the various construction sites was fundamental. He also had the aim of making the importance of finds of this type understood by those who still have them, thus encouraging them to conserve or contribute to the museum collection.

The hulls

In the different rooms of the museum, you can admire the boats that represent the different aspects developed on this lake. They range from traditional marine transports deriving from transport and fishing, to recreational boating and motor boating, which took its first steps here. Today the most famous of the lake’s fishing boats is the batèl. It is now known as the boat of Renzo and Lucia and more simply called lucia. It is the boat that can still be seen sailing on our lake.

A flourishing activity on the lake was given by smuggling and, before the appearance of the engine, during the night real competitions were held with blows of the oar between the smugglers and the financiers. For this activity they were used special boats suitable for fast rowing. These boats de sfrusà, were built in economy, so as not to regret the possible forced abandonment. The rowing seat was fixed so as not to make noise and the oars were coated with hemp. It is from these boats that the agile and fast rowing boat is derived, which has found diffusion on the lake for sports. Today in Pianello there are guided tours by appointment. The museum is now well known also abroad, especially in England and America.

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