Bellano / Description
Bellano has an approximate population of 3,300 people. Its conformation is characterized by the Pioverna Stream, which divides it in two: the old part – home to the old harbour and to the provostal church – and the more modern district and location of the train station.
The hinterland behind the town is characterized by several hamlets and many old inhabited built-up areas.
The service industry is currently the most developed sector, but author Antonio Balbiani from Bellano described the area as “the little Manchester of the Lario region” due to its large silk factories.
Walking down Via Manzoni in the old town centre, visitors come across numerous portals, courtyards, entrance halls of old patrician homes, unhewn stone stairways and heraldic coats of arms reminiscing of 18th-century origins. Those arriving in Bellano find themselves on one of the most charming lake fronts on the eastern shore of Lake Como, offering a marvellous view of the towns and mountains on the opposite side. Characteristic Via Manzoni can be reached from here by simply taking one of the many alleys emerging on the lake; it leads to the Church of St. Martha. The church houses a precious wooden group of nine statues (of natural height) depicting the Deposition and attributed to sculptor Angelo del Maino, known from 1496 to 1536.
The Church of St. Martha opens up on one side to Piazza della Prepositurale dedicated to saints Nazaro and Celso. Of late Romantic style, it has a façade with black stripes and a large terracotta rosette. The church was rebuilt between 1342 and 1350 and has significant frescoes in the central vault, pulpits, a presbyter, two large confessionals made of carved wood and a rich marble baptistry. The polyptych of the Chapel of St. John and the delicate tempera painting depicting the Lady of the Roses are remarkable.
Climbing the stairway on the right of Piazza Prepositurale takes visitors to the Church of St. Rocco (15th century) which was built by the homonymous Venetian confraternity to protect passers-by from the plagues. It is currently dedicated to Bellanese fallen in all wars and houses two paintings by local artist Giancarlo Vitali.
The oldest part of Bellano is home to the deconsecrated Church of St. Nicolao, currently used for cultural events. It is decorated with significant frescoes as proof of its important past.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna in Baroque style is in the hamlet of Lezzeno. It was built from 1690 to 1704 based on the project by architect Quadrio just two years after the miracle that took place 6 August 1688: that day, while passing by a small chapel he had built, Bartolomeo Mezzera saw the Madonna depicted in a plaster medallion crying tears of blood.
A stop must be made at the Orrido ravine. This is a natural gorge created by the Pioverna River whose waters have shaped gigantic potholes and charming caverns over the centuries. The dark narrow gorges and hollow roar of the tumultuous waters inspiring many authors have made the Orrido ravine one of the most well-known areas in the Lario region. The Cà del Diavol (House of the Devil) evokes fear and satanic rites in the collective imagination, making this place’s mysterious charm palpable. A cement walkway allows visitors to admire the beauty of a truly unique place.
Parks and sports facilities are located close to the lake, including a multi-purpose field, pools at the Bellano lido, Circolo Vela Bellano sailing club and a bicycle path. The Palasole was also recently built. It is a modern, sail-shaped building used for numerous festivals organized by Pro Bellano.
The main event is the well-known Pesa Vegia which celebrates the night of the Epiphany and attracts many spectators. It is said to reminisce of a fact that took place during Spanish domination, when a delegation of Bellanese locals went to Como by boat to advocate keeping the old peso which had been replaced with a new one (the latter was more difficult and complicated to apply and was the cause of difficulty among the local peoples mainly comprising merchants and artisans). The message was successful and the Bellanese returned the night of 5 January 1606, happy to have succeeded in maintaining the Pesa Vegia (old peso). Given its concurrence with the Epiphany, this legend has always been celebrated together with the procession of the Three Wise Men.
Bellano is now a tourist destination and attracts people from all over Italy and Europe, thanks also to its prominent artists, the likes of Giancarlo and Velasco Vitali or of author Andrea Vitali who always sets his novels in Bellano. In fact, many of his readers visit Bellano to see the charming places that have inspired the author.
The town is also a first-class cultural centre because it is the only one in the province that has organized (for over 6 years) an opera festival attracting hundreds of spectators in August.