The Island’s castel in the History of Como
Known for its glorious past, the Island played an important role in the history of Como, from the Roman period to the early Middle Ages. It was inhabited by communities of Roman Ausuciates, hence the name Ossuccio.
Among the most important religious centres of the diocese of Como, the Island saw the rise, on it’s land, of several churches, including one of the most important basilicas of the eleventh century, St. Euphemius. According to tradition, it was built by St. Abondius, bishop and patron of Como who brought the cult of St. Euphemius and there laid the ancient relics of the Martyrs. The religious importance of the island was such, as to receive the mortal remains of bishop Agrippino, whose epitaph still remains. At the head of Parish of the Island, which included the territories adjoining, the Comacina had a political and economic dominance, with its strategic fortification system. Even now called Castle (castèl), the Island was a fortress, with houses and churches surrounded by high walls. For 20 years, it was the seat of power of a Byzantine garrison commanded by Francione and even one of the last Western Roman Empire strongholds. It sided with Milan against Como in the 10 year war, until when, in ‘annus Horribilis’, 1169, Como was razed to the ground by the Comaschi, allied by Barbarossa. Nothing more was rebuilt for centuries.
The 1900’s resulted as the century of discovery: inhereted by testament by the king of Belgium in 1919 and donated by him to the Italian government, the Island became the responsibility of the Brera Academy, appointed to protect the archaeological and scenic beauty. With the idea of making the Comacina a colony for artists, in 1939, Pietro Lingeri built three houses for artists, in rationalistic style.