Nestled in a broad inlet between the slopes of Sasso Pelo and the alluvial plain of the Liro stream, Gravedona ed Uniti is one of the most fascinating places on Lake Como, thanks to its strategic position and beautiful surroundings. From its elegant lakeside promenade, you can admire the majestic Monte Legnone and the ancient Abbey of Piona on the opposite bank and, in the distance, the entrance to Valtellina and Valchiavenna, while behind the town emerge green valleys dotted with churches and unique historic villages.
Gravedona ed Uniti was formed in 2011 following the merger of the three municipalities of Consiglio di Rumo, Germasino and Gravedona. It is one of the greatest artistic centres of the Alto Lario, and a town reflected in its churches and monuments of rare beauty, which bear witness to its important past. Of pre-Roman origins, in the Middle Ages it was a prosperous town, thanks also to the important Via Regina road that connected Como to Northern Europe. Over time, the area became a centre for the spread of Christianity, and Gravedona assumed the symbolic role of the capital of the “Tre Pievi”.
The town underwent several dominations: first, it fell under the rule of the Visconti and Sforza families, then it was dominated by the Duke Gian Giacomo De’ Medici, known as “il Medeghino” and finally it passed into the hands of the Spanish who ceded it to the illustrious Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, who had the Palazzo Gallio built in 1586. Designed by Tibaldi on the remains of a late antique fortification on a rocky promontory, the building has a square plan with four massive corner towers linked by loggias and a garden with fountains and beautiful camellia plants. Not far from the palazzo rises the “Castle” the old part of the town, full of squares, houses leaning against each other, narrow and steep streets and endless steps that plunge into the blue of the lake. Here visitors can still admire the remains of the old walls of the castle and the lookout, called Pra’ Castello, which has an enchanting view of the lake. Among the houses of the historic centre is also the house where Alessandro Volta stayed during his honeymoon.
The Liro stream leads to the holy area of Gravedona ed Uniti, where the Church of Santa Maria del Tiglio and the Parish Church of S. Vincenzo are located. A unique masterpiece of the Como Romanesque style, the Baptismal church of Santa Maria del Tiglio was built in the second half of the 12th century over the previous early Christian baptistery of San Giovanni and has a façade made up of white marble and black stones and a front bell tower. The interior preserves a mosaic floor and some 14th and 15th century frescoes. The Church of S. Vincenzo, on the other hand, was built around 1050 on an early-Christian building dating back to the 5th century, and it was renovated between the 17th and 18th centuries. The ancient early-Christian structure preserves the impressive crypt dedicated to San Antonio.
Of particular historical and artistic importance are the many other churches scattered throughout the territory, including the Church (or Convent) of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built and decorated by the Augustinian Friars in the 15th century, the Church of Saints Gusmeo and Matteo, Romanesque church with frescoes by Fiammenghino and the Church of San Giovanni Battista in Brenzio, also decorated by Fiammenghino.
Today, Gravedona ed Uniti is a popular summer resort, the historic centre blends harmoniously with the modern infrastructures, such as the renovated accommodation facilities, dynamic commercial activities and the areas dedicated to sports, such as the first-class sports centre with athletics track, tennis courts and soccer fields located in Serenella, next to the beautiful beach, the public swimming pool and walking and cycling tracks that connect the town to Dongo and Domaso, coasting along the lakeside.
Not to be missed is the traditional parade of allegorical boats and fireworks display that light up the lakeside of Gravedona ed Uniti every year on 14 August.