The Mandello area is rich in buildings and monuments of considerable historical and cultural value.
The defensive system is particularly developed along the entire eastern shore of the Lake.
There are three towers in Mandello del Lario:
The first, in the Lake area and near the Church of St. Lawrence, is called "Pretoria Tower" and it is a very low square tower currently used as a private residence; the second, called "Tower of the Lafranconi", in the high district of Rongio; and the third, perhaps better known, located in the district of Maggiana, the "Barbarossa Tower".
In addition, there are the two towers in the neighboring municipalities of Abbadia Lariana and Lierna: these are, respectively, "La Torraccia" (Abbadia Lariana), still visible at the edges of the SS 36, and "The Castle" (Lierna).

Barbarossa Tower

Located in a picturesque location in the center of the town of Maggiana, a hamlet of Mandello del Lario, the Barbarossa Tower allows us to take a dip into the past. The tower owes its name to the Mandelli family, who in 1158 hosted Emperor Frederick I called "Barbarossa". Frederick I used the tower to watch the naval battles between the Milanese (allies of the Lega Lombarda) and the Comaschi (allies of Barbarossa together with Mandello).
The event is attested by the discovery, occurred on May 5, 1828, of a granite slab on which this sentence was engraved:
"FRIDERIC IMPERAT GERMAN HIC TUTUS QUIEVIT ANNO 1158"
(Frederick Emperor of Germany rested here in 1158).
With its square shape, this majestic building stands in a dominant position towards the lake.
Its strategic location allowed to dominate the paths that led to the Val Meria and Piani Resinelli, formerly lands of pastures and mines.
The Barbarossa Tower has a square plan, a height of 40 arms and a width of ten.
The walls have ogival windows on each side that alternate with loopholes.
The access is through a large door in medieval style that leads into a courtyard entrance from which, through a staircase, you enter the first floor of the tower.
Since 1976, the building has been owned by the Municipality, which has entrusted it to the G.A.MAG. (Gruppo Amici di Maggiana – Group Friends of Maggiana), an association that organizes a beautiful medieval festival.
Today the building houses the Ethnographic Museum which tells and illustrates, through objects and images dating back to the end of the 19th century and the first half of the following century, the events of Maggiana and the ways of life and work of the communities that lived in these areas.
Address: Via S. Giorgio, 8/c (Fuori dal centro abitato, in posizione dominante)  
Opening:
- from April to September Saturday and Sunday and extraordinary opening 2 April, 25 April, 1 May, 15 August 10:00 am -12:00 pm: 
For extraordinary openings during the week, send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Admission: free offer.
More information: www.museotorremaggiana.it/

TorreMaggiana

 

Tower of the Lafranconi

Torre dei Lafranconi Rongio Mandello

 
 
The Tower of the Lafranconi is located in the hilltop village of Rongio.
Originally in a dominant position on the other houses, it is today surrounded by recent constructions.
The building dates back to the 13th century and was assigned to the local Lafranconi family, from which it takes its name; as well as other tower-houses, it probably had a defensive and sighting function.
The tower has a classic quadrangular structure, with fronts in exposed stone with small windows and slits. There are two entrances, one in the basement and the other one on the first floor.

Pretoria Tower

One of the traces of the medieval period is clearly visible in the old village: near the lake, Torre Pretoria overlooks Piazza Italia, a massive and compact building, originally the seat of the Praetorium (the place where the war council would meet, thus acquiring an administrative and juridical meaning).
Today, only the back and the lower part of the original building are left, in which two large boulders are embedded in the two corners of the western façade, in which two "holes" now filled with cement can be seen.
These two large stones had previously been used, according to the scholar O. Zastrow, as supports to a hydraulic hammer, machinery in use during the early Middle Ages: this element demonstrates the construction of the tower in a medieval and not Roman period, as instead claimed by other scholars; this theory does not exclude the previous existence of another defensive structure with similar characteristics.
Towards the middle of the last century, the tower was demolished up to the current terrace on the first floor, above which a house was built; the Tower is still today, despite the various alterations, very impressive and the original walls exceed 70 cm in thickness.
The rear façade, which as mentioned above was spared from demolition, presents, even today, the ancient wall where you can see loopholes, windows and walled arcades.
This is because in the Middle Ages the building also served as a sentinel to spot the possible arrival of enemies, being part of that system of fortifications that protected the inhabitants of the Mandello territory.
It is said that, from the inside of the tower, through a trapdoor, it was possible to access a secret underground passage (now walled) that led to the church of St. Lawrence Martyr.
In the tourist guide "La Storia in riva al Lago" (“History by the Lake”), edited by the Municipal Archives of Local Memory, visitors can learn about the history of the ancient village and its fortifications.

Veduta area di Maggiana Torre di Maggiana Rongio
Towards the middle of 1400 the existing walls were strengthened and enlarged, thus including some external buildings; at the time Mandello del Lario was part of the duchy of Milan, at war with the Venetian Republic.
Around the walls there was a moat, fed by the water of the lake and closed centuries later, around the second half of 1700. Today, along its route, to the north, there is a street called "Via del Fosso" (fosso: moat), at the beginning of which it is possible to read, on a plaque, the words that recall the closure of the moat in 1775:
ANTIQUAE MANDELLIANAE ARCIS
VALLUM
CAROLO COMITE SFONDRATO A. RIPARIA
INTIMIORI AUGG CUBICULARIO
PUBLICAE COMMODITATI CONSULENTE
OBSTRUCTUM
ANDREAS EX NOBB. GEORGIIS BERTOLLA
PREDIALIS CENSUS PRAEFECTUS
PROPRIO COMMUNIQUE AERE
IN COMMODAM VIAM REDIGI CURAVIT
ANNO MDCCLXXV
Among the buildings of historical interest, there are numerous churches and sanctuaries in the Mandello territory: a constellation of places of worship scattered throughout the area, which includes precious examples of the Romanesque style, the essence of the artistic and religious heritage of this territory.

Church of St. George

The Church of St. George is located on a plain that overlooks the so-called Sasso San Giorgio, which rises on the branch of Lake Como, along the Sentiero del Viandante.
There is still a lot of uncertainty around its date of construction. It is thought that it is an early medieval building and that it was built in the thirteenth century, at the behest of a crusader returning from the Holy Land.
According to another legend, the Church was built on the refuge of a monk belonging to the Order of the Knights Templar.
The architecture is essential, as in most of the medieval temples churches disseminated on the shores of Lake Como; with a single-chamber structure, exposed trussed ceiling and quadrangular apse with cross vault, it owes its current appearance to a series of restorations that took place mostly in the fourteenth century.
Particularly enchanting is the decorative apparatus that covers most of the walls, the triumphal arch and the presbytery floor: there are numerous votive frescoes dating back to the 15th century. The decorative cycle moves within the cultural matrix of the Observantism promoted by San Bernardino: the concept represented, in a solemn manner, is based on the idea that, on the Day of Judgment, we will be judged on the basis of our deeds and in particular of charity (which is a key element in the Christian ethics)
Address: Via S. Giorgio, 8/c (outside the town) - S. Giorgio, Mandello del Lario
Opening: from April to September every Sunday and holidays 10.00 am - 12.00 pm and 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm. Extraordinary openings to be requested to the Pro Loco of Mandello del Lario.
For more information: see the book by Oleg Zastrow, La Chiesa di San Giorgio a Mandello del Lario.
SanGiorgio 047

Church of the blessed Virgin Mary of the river

Another beautiful church is that of  the Blessed Virgin Mary of the River.
The church is linked to a miracle occurred in the 1600s, when the waters of the river Meria, following a flood, deposited a whole sack of wheat in front of an image of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus painted on the wall of a vineyard. The devotion to the effigy of the Virgin increased the popularity of the image, therefore it was decided to build a place of worship to protect the sacred image.
The church was built thanks to the archpriest Giovanni Battista Sambuca, who used the alms of the community and the donations of the local inhabitants.
Inside we can find rich decorations typical of Baroque period.
Address: Piazza Beata Vergine del Fiume, Mandello del Lario

Church of the Virgin Mary of Debbio

Among the lesser-known places of worship, there is the one dedicated to St. Mary in Debbio, on the border between Abbadia Lariana and Mandello del Lario.
The building was once an important point of intersection between communication routes (from and to Lake Como, towards the surrounding villages or towards the mountains) and a stage in processions and religious manifestations.
Today it preserves on the altar a precious Nursing Madonna of 1434, recently restored.
In the publication "Una Madonna ... da riscoprire", by the Municipal Archives of Local Heritage, it is possible to find detailed information and images; the brochure can be downloaded in pdf format.
Opening: upon reservation at the Pro Loco Association of Mandello del Lario.

Church of St. Lawrence

The Archpriest Church of St. Lawrence is located on a square a few steps from the Lake and at the entrance to the ancient village of Mandello del Lario.
The current building dates back to the seventeenth century and was built in place of the previous temple. The bell tower is clearly of Romanesque style, dating back to the twelfth century and is one of the defensive towers of the Castrum. Inside there is a precious Serassi Organ (1764), carved and gilded.
The decoration of the church dates back to the seventeenth century and follows the decorative Baroque taste.
Also worth mentioning is the precious carved ciborium and the polychrome wooden canopy altar.
Combined with the Church, the Benedictine abbey, which dates back to 833 AD, is still recognizable.
Opposite the Church, in addition, we can find the ancient Chapel of the Dead, which has an octagonal plan.
Address: Piazza S. Lorenzo, 11
Copia di San Lorenzo 50233m