Como Historic Center, Como
If you're not totally burnt out on visiting old churches by the time you get to Como, let me recommend the Basilica of San Fedele as well worthy of checking out. It is a quiet and soothing refuge from the tourist hordes.
One of the oldest buildings in the city, this church was built around the 12th century on the site of an older church dedicated to Santa Eufemia when the remains of the martyr San Fedelio were buried here. The basilica contains some significant artworks from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
The original church on the site dated from the sixth century and was dedicated to St Euphemia. The current structure dates from the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
The architectural style is Romanesque. The layout comprises three irregular naves in a central unit crossed by ambulatories (a sort of clover-leaf shape), with women's galleries above. The facade and bell tower have been alterered as a result of restoration work in the early twentieth century.
Medieval votive frescoes can be seen in the northern apse. In the right apse are eighteenth century paintings by C. I. Carloni (1764-7). In the left apse are seventeenth century frescoes.
The rose window dates from the sixteenth century.
As is found elsewhere in Italy and in other Mediterranean countries, the piazza/plaza, town square serves as a neighborhood's playground, family room and place to get updated on all the local gossip.
People watching at its best!
I found the best way to visit Como's Citta Murata was to just wander around the streets soaking up the atmosphere.
There are a few museums and historical attractions here but the highlight is undoubtedly the Duomo and its adjacent buildings in the Piazza Duomo.
Another spot worth finding time for is Piazza Fedele where you can easily spend quite a while at one of the cafes or restaurants that adorn the square and is more intimate than Piazza Duomo.
Within the Citta Murata there's enough interest to keep you wandering for a good part of the day, especially if you chill out and take a pit stop every so often, which is how I like to do it.
Como was once fully-walled, and the streets in the Citta Murata ('within the walls') still hold a taste of what life was once like.
The Citta Murata is now largely pedestrianised, which makes wandering pleasant. Its streets are narrow, cobbled in parts, winding their way through and across what was once a bustling Medieval town, opening out into small piazzas and giving glimpses of what once was.
Try to wander away from the main streets. Take some time to explore the side-streets and alleyways. Look up to see old windows, look for exposed stonework which give a window into the building's origins.
And if you come across a church which is open, always go inside. Many Italian churches are very ancient indeed and many hold artistic points of interest as well as historical ones.
It may be useful to know that there are not only 'ordinary' toilets at Macdonalds in Como (on the first floor, upstairs) but also a disabled toilet for wheelchair users.
It is on the ground floor, more or less opposite the main entrance.
The toilets I visited (non-disabled) were clean enough, if rather cramped, and I assume the disabled toilet is equally clean....and free.
I didn't buy anything nor did I feel the need to do so.
This Macdonalds is at the lakeside end of Via Plinio (see below for more info).
The Piazza San Fedele was originally Como's corn market, and retains many of its Medieval buildings. I thought it was a lovely spot, and one which really gave an idea of what Medieval Como was like...as long as you can mentally block out the numerous people (even in February) wandering through it along busy Via Vittorio Emmanuele ll.
Look for the upper floor projecting over the streets, the exposed wooden frames, the wobbly and varied rooflines...and for the rather stumpy row of what I suspect were originally Roman columns next to the church.
San Fedele itself is well worth a visit (see further tip). It dates from 914 and was Como's first cathedral.
Roam around the streets to see the old buildings in a range of periods - prominent feature of the Como skyline when looking from across the lake and huge when looking down from the viewpoint on the hill above is the 14th century Duomo in the heart of Como near Piazza Cavour.
The Duomo has 15th and 16th century reliefs, paintings and tombs and 18th century dome by Turin's famous architect Juvara.
Next door is the 13th century Broletto - Town Hall - in its pink, white and grey stripes and Torre del Commune.
As with any historic town in Italy, one of the great pleasures is to simply wander the back streets and alleyways to capture a real sense of character and history. An ornately decorated building, a decrepit lost church, a glimpse through an open gate of an inner courtyard...
The historic centre of Como is no different. You may get disorientated but never really lost - it's not big enough! But it's a totally worthwhile experience and also a great way to lose the crowds...
Surrounding the old city of Como is the medieval fortifications built in the 12th century, much of which still exist. A number of towers were built which also (although restored) remain standing.
One of the most impressive is the 40 metre high Porta Torre in the Piazza Vittoria, marking the edge of te Historic Centre of Como.
San Fedele was Como's original cathedral and I found it to be a very atmospheric church. Ancient churches usually are, and this one is very ancient indeed.
Much of what you see now dates back to 1120, but the whole west frontage was reconstructed during the early 20th century. The church follows a three-nave layout, opening out into two large chapels
Although little of the exterior is visible the interior repays careful exploration. It's gloomy, so apologies for the quality of my photos...but do seek out the Roman columns and capitals, the beautiful Medieval frescoes which have been exposed in various places and the well-worn Romanesque lion holding a Roman capital turned into a font tucked away in the darkness.
On three sides of Como historical centre there is an old Medieval wall. The wall was constructed between 1159 and 1175 and is still standing. Along the wall there are a few towers. One of them is the deafens tower Torre de Porta Vittoria (Porta Torre), which is 40 metres high. To one side it has got double arched windows (photo 2).
The names of 650 soldiers who lost their lives in World War 1 are inscribed on this War Memorial. On the north side is a quotation by Sant'Elia: "Either this evening in Trieste, or tomorrow in heaven with the heroes!"
The Memorial is covered with Anzola dioride and Alzo granite monolith and weighs 40,000 kilos.
The significance of this tribute to Garibaldi is that this was where Risorgimento ended - here in Como in 1859. Here he overlooks Piazza Vittoria, the medieval tower and walls of the historical center.
Photo 1 - Garibaldi statue - inaugurated with a solemn ceremony in 1889.
Photo 2 - Bas relief
Stroll along the wall of the historic center from the Central Tower. Famous in the medieval history of Como, it was built in 1192. It overlooks the square where the Austrian garrison surrendered to Como, with a monument to Garibaldi by sculptor Vincenzo Vela.
40 meters high - four superimposed rows of double windows.