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Corenno Plinio: enchanting medieval hamlet on the eastern branch of Como Lake

3 min read

Corenno Plinio is a small and charming medieval settlement just few minutes far from Dervio, on the eastern branch of Como Lake, Italy. It is an enchanted place that few people know, that stands atop a stone spur overlooking the waters of lake.
Walking through its narrow streets and along the stairs built in the rocks, from the castle to the lake, it is impossible not to be charmed by this small hamlet that sweats history in every corner.
Not by chance, it is also know as “The village of a thousand steps” due to the numerous stairways present, with the steps carved into the rock.
It owes its name to the Roman consul Caio Plinio il Vecchio, or historically Consul Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born in Como and invested public officer by the Emperor Vespasian, who loved this small hamlet, mirrored in the lake.

The first official documents testifying to the presence of a castle in Corenno Plinio date back to 1271. It was built by the Andreani’s family, owner of the castle and liege lord since 1277 thanks to the Archbishop of Milano Ottone Visconti. It was built on the remains of Roman foundations and has an irregular but basically square floor plan.
In the 14th century, the Corenno estate passed to the Visconti Family, then to Malacridas and then in 1450, on to Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan.
It was built not for residential purpose but as a safe place for the inhabitants in case of attack by invaders, especially in the 14th century, when the part of Corenno towards the lake was destroyed by fire.
In the 17th century during the Spanish occupation, the walls and tower were reinforced to defend the village from the attacks of the Landsknechts and Alemanni. The stronghold lost its defensive role in the 18th century, when a portion of the wall was eliminated to allow for a view of the lake and give more space to the vineyard that was later cultivated.
The moat around the castle, mentioned in the Statute of Dervio town council in 1389, was filled in between 1825 and 1830 when the military road was built (now provincial road number 72).
Still visible and well maintained the walls and two towers: a square one on the north side and one on the south side, that is also the entrance of the castle.
Through the centuries, the town grew beyond the Castle walls, the houses placed one against the next, connected by small alleys and stairs carved into the rock leading to the lake.

Along the Castle walls stands the church dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury, built between the 12th and the 13th centuries, and consecrated in 1355.
The Arch-Bishop of Milan, Carlo Borromeo converted it into an autonomous Parish in 1566, extricating it from the Dervio circumscription. The church was restored several times between the 18th and 19th century and the bell tower which can still be admired still today was erected in 1711.
During the restoration work of 1966, the ancient frescoes on its walls dating back 15th and 14th centuries were brought back to light.
The churchyard has three gravestones of the Andreani Earls dating back to the 14th century, which attest to how important this noble family was to the village of Corenno Plinio.

Author’s note: don’t miss the old pier at the bottom of the steps, with the fishing boats…