Como was conquered by Roman Marcus Claudius Marcellus in 196 BC. Julius Caesar took charge of the town in 49BC creating a colony of over 5,000 settlers. He was also responsible for naming the lake, Larius. In the 11th century, Como became a commune and after many battles with Milan, it eventually came under the Milanese rule in 1451. The town under Milanese rule became a prominent commercial region with a strong wool industry. In 1510 it began silk production. In 1521 Como was conquered by the Spaniards.
Many famous artists would later visit the beautiful and calming setting of Lake Como to write or compose. Amongst them were the authors Longfellow and Tennyson. Franz Liszt wrote his Dante Fantasia (1837) and Bellini wrote the opera Norma by the lake.
The area hit a dark patch during World War II when Mussolini and his mistress were captured at Dongo and then shot in the nearby town of Mezzegra in 1945. Many Italians chose to avoid the area for many years following this. In the main centre of town many of the streets are closed to all traffic.
All of the factories are located on the outskirts of town helping to keep the town clean. Como is a premier manufacturer of quality silk and textiles. Ironically, tourism isn’t Como’s main financial resource and isn’t by a long shot. Como leads the way in textiles and furniture manufacture and design.
Things You May Not Know About Como
Roman authors Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger were born in Como. Pliny the Younger witnessed and recorded the eruption of Mt Vesuvius which destroyed Pompeii. Pliny the Elder, on the other hand, would tragically perish at the hands of Vesuvius, trying to get a better view. Pliny the Younger also had two-holiday villas on the lake during the 1st century BC. He amusingly named one Comedy and the other Tragedy.
Many areas of Lake Como are surrounded by sheer cliffs, making some waterside villages accessible only by boat. It also makes for a terrifying journey if you decide to drive around the lake.
Comacina Island is where the Lombard kings took refuge when under threat of invaders. It is the lake’s only island.
Lake Como is also known as Lake Lario.
Como is the birthplace of Alessandro Volta an Italian physicist known for his development of the electric battery in 1800. The electrical unit, the volt, was named in his honour so too the Volta crater (found on the moon).