[Skip to main content]
view of the northern end of lake Como from the lake side walk at Dongo

Dongo and the End of the War Museum

Boat trips

Dongo is located on a plain formed by the Albano Stream at the mouth of Albano Valley. At the head of the valley is the important San Jorio pass, which from as early as the Roman era connected North Lake Como to the Swiss valley of Mesolcina.

Dongo is a town rich in history and is linked to the end of the Fascist era. In fact on 27th April 1945, the German troops withdrawing towards Germany, hiding among them Benito Mussolini and some of his ministers, were stopped on the road between Musso and Dongo. The ministers were initially taken to Palazzo Manzi and were then shot on the lakeside promenade in front of the square. Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci were taken to Giulino di Mezzegra and executed (28th April 1945). These facts and the history of the local partisans are well documented in the End of World War II Museum, that has its seat at Palazzo Manzi.

Every first and third Thursday there is a lively market in the center of Dongo.


We take the boat from Menaggio to Dongo that is located in the upper part of Lake Como, famous for its lakeside holiday resorts and water sports. The upper lake area is wider and is surrounded by a lovely crown of mountains that reflects in the lake.  Dongo is a town rich in history and is linked to the end of the Fascist era.

From the boat dock at Dongo we walk to piazza Paracchini  where Palazzo Manzi stands, seat of the End of the War Museum. Dongo is the place where Benito Mussolini and the fascist ministers of the RSI (Italian Social Republic) were captured on 27th April 1945. The exposure of original relics, documentary evidence and witness accounts, new archive footage and engaging re-enactments,  the exhibition invites the public to step onto the stage of history.
Palazzo Manzi was built in 1824 and is one of the most expressive examples of the Napoleonic period on Lake Como. It was donated in 1937 by Giuseppina Manzi to the Municipality of Dongo that made it their administrative seat. Inside, the so-called Gold Room – where the Manzi family held their banquets – can be visited subject to booking.

After our visit of the museum from Piazza Paracchini to the left of Palazzo Manzi we take Via del Mercato, once the commercial centre of the village. Immediately after a portico, we turn right onto Via Osteria to enter the old town centre. At the end of the road, we turn right again and we walk along Via Lamberzoni to the small Romanesque church of Saint Maria in Martinico (normally open), a building with a single central nave with sculptural decorations. From the church, we take the cobbled Via dell’Erbolo, then Via Interno a Martinico and Via Antica Regina to reach the ancient cluster of houses of Barbignano. On the other side of the river it is possible to see the large factories of the former Falck Iron Works, subsequently owned by Cagiva, that were an important source of employment for locals.

Back at Palazzo Manzi, we take Via Roma and Via Tre Pievi which gets onto the state road. Cross the bridge over the Albano Stream and a little further ahead, on the right, is the beautiful Franciscan Monastery of Madonna delle Lacrime (normally open). Built in the 16th century, it celebrates a miraculous event in 1553 when the “Our Lady with Child”, a fresco in a niche of the church named after Our Lady of the River – saved several years previously from the stream in flood – suddenly began to shed tears. The parish priest of Dongo collected the tears in a chalice and the same year construction work began on the sanctuary. The church has a 17th-century aspect and is annexed
to the monastery of the Franciscan monks.

About 50 metres further on, take Viale Mons. Bellesini, lined with rows of conifers, which leads to the Parish Church of Saint Stefano (open for religious functions). Of ancient origins, it was rebuilt in the 18th century and adorned with frescoes by the maestri intelvesi, Carlo Scotti and Giulio Quaglio. Behind the church begins a beautiful cycle-pedestrian lane that flanks the lake, linking Dongo and Gravedona. Along the way there are benches, beaches, lidos and picnic areas. This walk lasts 50 minutes and is accessible to wheelchair users too. From Gravedona it is possible to return to Menaggio by boat or by hydrofoil.


Directions & Parking

Map directions →

By public transport

Boat tickets can be bought on-line www.navigazionelaghi.it or at Menaggio at the Navigazione ticket office at Menaggio
During the tourist season there are a few boats per day from Menaggio to Dongo. On the way they touch Varenna, Bellano and Pianello del Lario.  During the winter period Dongo can only be reached by hydrofoil.