The history of Como

A territory full of history, where the greatest passed.

How was the City of Como born?

The Lake Como it is a geological product of the last glaciation (about 10,000 years ago). Following a timeline of history in progressive order, the first populations that inhabit the area closest to the current city are groups of hunter-gatherers who move continuously, without building stable settlements. In their wanderings they also frequent the Lead hole, a natural cavity located above the city of Erba. Here they were found most remote traces of human presence in the Como area, mainly made up of worked flints.

It is only around 2500 BC that, in conjunction with the development of techniques such as cultivation, pastoralism and ceramics, population nuclei become more stable.

Over the centuries, some of these populations moved from the Brianza lakes to the more defensible hills located between San Fermo della Battaglia and Prestino. It was born in this period civilization of Golasecca, ethnically composed of a local substratum that blends with the first wave of Celt migration from beyond the Alps. Thanks to a refined craftsmanship, an intense commercial exchange develops in those years that goes as far as the most advanced civilizations of central Italy. The Como area becomes the main communication channel between the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

The presence of Celtic settlements in Como is confirmed by the writings of the Roman historian Livy, which describes the presence of a fortified center, defined Comum Oppidum (located near Prestino), to which numerous smaller towns are connected.

During a second Celtic migration, the Gauls settle with the tribe of the Insubre, to whom we owe the foundation of Milan. Under their political influence, the Comens become part of an anti-Roman alliance.

The Novum Comum of Julius Caesar

In 196 BC, just in the vicinity of Como, the Roman consul Claudius Marcellus defeats the Gaulsforcing them to surrender. Historical Como comes to life from the date of the Roman conquest.

The Romanization process started gradually, with a minimal presence of settlers and without administrative interference from the capital. The real renovator is Julius Caesar who, realizing the strategic position of the Como area for the defense of the peninsula, rebuilt the city on the shores of the lake, exactly where it is today, and sent 5,000 settlers there. Born, in 59 BC, Novum Commum. 

With the end of the struggles between Cesare and Pompeo, Como becomes “municipium” and under the leadership of the emperor August knows a period of thriving cultural growth. It gives birth to Pliny the Elder, author of the Naturalis Historia, or the first encyclopedia, and its grandson Pliny the Younger, author of one of the most famous letters in the Latin world. The construction of the Via Regina, which connects the Larian land to Rezia.

There fall of the empire (476 AD) determines the fragmentation of Italy into many local autonomies. Como was first dominated by the Huns, then by the Goths and finally by the Lombards. In 774 he surrendered peacefully to Charlemagne, and under his rule the city became an important center of fairs, markets and commercial traffic.

During the reign of his successors, the Bishop and the ecclesiastical hierarchy gain more and more powers, who govern the city until the establishment of the Communes, favoring a rapid spread of Christianity throughout the territory.

At the end of the Carolingian domination, at the beginning of the 11th century, Como becomes a autonomous municipality, but a new enemy is on the horizon. Milan the city on the lake is poorly viewed, due to its privileged position in the field of commerce and the strategic importance it holds.

For this reason, for ten years the two municipalities wage war, with the Milanese boasting the valid help of the fleet of theComacina Island. on 27 August 1127 Como is besieged; the walls and houses are destroyed, the inhabitants dispersed.

The reconstruction of the city with Federico Barbarossa

Thanks to the help of the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the municipality rebuilds the city, amplifying the defense walls with its imposing towers Gate TowerSan Vitale And New door (or Gattoni Tower). Also restore the Castel Baradello, enhancing it with the construction of the mighty tower. Como thus has his revenge by participating in the destruction of Milan in 1162 and of Isola Comacina in 1169.

In 1183 the Peace of Constance sanctions the autonomy of the Communes from the Empire and in 1186 peace is signed with Milan.

In the 13th century, the municipality was troubled by the rivalry between the Ghibelline Ruscas and the Guelphs Vittani. The Lordship of the Ruscas comes out victorious and in 1335 gives the city to Azzone ViscontiThe history of Como is intertwined with that of Duchy of Milan, of which he follows the political fortunes up to the unification of Italy.

It therefore underwent French domination and, from 1521, that Spanish. The latter plunges Como and Lombardy into one of the darkest periods of their history. To the economic collapse, caused by a very heavy tax burden, are added the plague epidemics, violence and poverty. The echoes of these difficult years are well narrated in the famous novel The Betrothed Of Alessandro Manzoni.

From Napoleon Bonaparte to Giuseppe Garibaldi

In 1714 Como passed into Austrian hands. In a few decades the disastrous consequences of the Spanish government are erased, through the incentive of the development of the textile industry and furniture craftsmanship. The sciences and the arts flourish again, and it is in this century that the marvelous patrician villas that have come down to us are built, such as Villa Saporiti And Villa Olmo. In 1745 he was born in Como Alessandro Volta, to whom we owe the extraordinary invention of the battery and the discovery of methane gas.

Leading the Army of Italy, on 14 May 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte enters Milan triumphantly. The following year the general visits Como and from Villa Saporiti announces the establishment of the Cisalpine Republic. A few years later Como was placed in charge of the Lario Department which also includes the districts of Lecco, Sondrio and Varese. During his government, Napoleon favored the silk industry of Lyon and the productive situation in Como suffered a profound economic crisis.

After the defeat of the Russian expedition (1812) collapses the Kingdom of Italy. In 1814 the Congress of Vienna restores the political conditions prior to the advent of Napoleon. The Austrians return and the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.

During the Risorgimento period, Como too was overwhelmed by the revolutionary ferment of the time. The May 27, 1859during the Second War of Independence, Giuseppe Garibaldi at the command of Hunters of the Alps free the city from Austrian occupation following the famous Battle of San Fermo.

Como, after centuries of foreign domination, is annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy of the Savoys. From here on, his story is identified with the history of Italy.