Gravedona is an important centre on the north-western shore of the lake, rich with history and art. In the IV an V century it was the centre of spreading Christianity in the upper part of the lake and together with Dongo and Sorico formed the domain of the Tre Pievi.
The extraordinary Romanesque church of S. Maria del Tiglio, that stands approx. 800 m south of the boat dock, is one of the most important Romanesque buildings of the province. The church was built from the 12th century onwards on an existing early-Christian baptistery. The façade features alternating white stone (from nearby Musso) and grey stone and a huge octagonal bell-tower that makes the building seem to soar upwards. On a counter-façade to the left, the best preserved fresco is a 14th-century Last Judgement, but one of the most important pieces in the church is the wooden Crucifix. Dating from the 12th-century this is a unique example of carved wood from the local Romanesque period and with the exception of the arms, the entire piece comes from a single piece of wood. The church is normally open.
About 300 metres after the church and beyond the landing stage on the lakeside promenade with at its the end the imposing bulk of Palazzo Gallio, a majestic building with towers and loggias, built in 1582 as a residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio and now the seat of the Comunità Montana (Association of Mountain Communities). In Piazza Mazzini, follow signs for Castello, the oldest nucleus of Gravedona. Take Via Castello that leads to a small hill overlooking the lake with beautiful views over Saint Maria del Tiglio and the bay. Continue to the left to Via Volta, where at street number 2 the house where Alessandro Volta, physicist and inventor from Como, lived stands. Turn left and then take Via San Rocco on the right.
Once back on the state road, continue right for about 20 metres (look out for traffic) then take Via Dosi e Segna on the left.
Climb to a junction where you move to the left to admire the church of Saint Maria delle Grazie, known as the Monastery (normally open during the tourist season), whose grassy courtyard affords splendid views of the town and of the bay of Gravedona. Dating from 1467, the Church of Saint Maria delle Grazie is owned by the Augustinian foundation. Tall pointed windows illuminate the interior, which is richly decorated by Lombard Renaissance frescoes. Nearby is another church; the Romanesque Church of Saints Gusmeo and Matteo (normally open during the tourist season). Charmingly framed by plane trees, according to tradition it was built on the site of the martyrdom of the two saints around 1248. It is decorated with a “Glory” dated 1608 by Il Fiammenghino.
Highly recommended is the lake side walk from Gravedona to Domaso (0.30 hrs) which offers a splendid view on the northern end of the lake.
Every first and third Wednesday morning there is a market at Gravedona.
Directions & Parking
By public transport
Boat tickets can be bought on-line or at Menaggio at the Navigazione ticket office.