Gravedona is one of my favorite spots on Lake Como. The town of Gravedona is full of interesting churches, a wonderful old palace that hosts a multitude of events including summer concerts, and of course great gelato! Plus Gravedona has a great walkway along the water with a wide sidewalk, making it one of the few towns on the lake where you don’t have to fear for your life while trying to walk around and see the town.
-1- Walk along water and admire the views and have a gelato (a must do in any Italian town on the Lake, especially in the summer. It is an Italian summer rule of mine to have at least one gelato a day!).
-2- Santa Maria Church – This 13th century church sits in a nice open space by the water. To reach the church from the main-street and water walkway, walk south past the parking lot and continue to follow the road (some portions without a sidewalk). The church is very dark inside but portions of frescos can still be seen.
-3-Santa Maria delle Grazie Church – This is really a jewel to see, as the frescos in this church are really amazing. The church was built in the late 15th century. Make sure not to miss the cloister courtyard as there are some more frescos out there as well. Also for more information on the church you can always ask the attendant who is well versed in the history of the church and can give you a private mini tour on the spot.
*How to see the church: The following days and times are based on the summer 2010 information. From July10th to September 11th the church is open 10AM-12:30PM and 3PM-6PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Side Note: It is not easy to see the Santa Maria delle Grazie church as it is only open for a few hours on certain days. The best thing to do is check with the tourist office in Gravedona or even in another town, for the latest pamphlet on the churches in the area. (Menaggio has a great tourism office on the main square with lots of brochures and helpful people who can speak English, Italian, and German).
-4- Palazzo Gaglio (Gaglio Palace) – You can reach the Palace by continuing to walk along the sidewalk from the water. The sidewalk leads up and around, directly to the palace. The palace was built in the mid/late 16th century for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio. The palace is used for events and concerts. Last summer I attended a couple of concerts which were marvelous and usually feature music students from local conservatories or music schools in Milan and the talent is astounding! For the concerts you can buy tickets at the door before the event; tickets were never more then 10 or 15 euros.
Side Note: August is a big music concert season on Lake Como. Check with tourist offices for information on concerts and schedules. Menaggio has on going music events in a large park by the lake, many of which are free. Varenna has small concerts in the Villa Monastero, and as mentioned above, Gravedona has concerts in the Gallio Palace. There are many events throughout the Lake to keep an eye on in the summer.
These are the main sights of the city of Gravedona. Of course as always, I suggest walking through the city and exploring.
As another side note — Dongo
Dongo is a small town on the lake that has a rather peculiar feel, perhaps more so because of the fun name of the town, which sounds a bit ominous. Dongo come before Gravedona, so any easy stop to make on the way. As with the other towns, you can walk through the town, see the main church, and have gelato at the main square. The main piazza is also a bit odd for the lake towns as most of it is taken up by parking spots. However the small historical museum in Dongo is worth a visit, and you will learn that this where Mussolini was captured!
How to get to Gravedona, Italy
You can take the ferry. To check the latest ferry schedules click here for the official website. (Ferry schedules change for the seasons).
You can also drive to Gravedona. Keep an eye out for parking signs. There is a rather good sized parking lot right by the lake – make sure to pay for parking and put the parking ticket on the dashboard of your car.
Useful website – For more information about Lake Como and all of Northern Italy’s major lakes click here for italylakes.net