The Charm of Lago di Como

Varenna sul lago di Como

The town of Torno stretches along a promontory, stretching out over Lake Como or Lario. It is a community, which today has about 1,300 inhabitants.

Its origins, remote over the centuries, are revealed through the oats distributed within a dense forest, probably tombs excavated in erratic boulders, that is to say blocks of considerable size dating back even to the Quaternary Age, transported here by ice. These are unparalleled achievements in Europe in a land, which tells its own story also through the finds of Roman tombs, the remains of medieval walls and fortifications.


“Here – explains Father Alberto Pini, parish priest of Santa Tecla and forearm Vicar of the church-sanctuary of St. John the Baptist – he also established one of the oldest Christian communities in the entire Diocese of Como. Christianity came preceded by the testimonies of the martyrs “. For example, San Fedele, a Roman soldier who converted together with some of his fellow soldiers and therefore beheaded.

The first clashes were recorded in 1292 with the juxtaposition between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, a juxtaposition that led the Tomaschis to confront the Comensi, weapons in hand: it was the beginning of a series of conflicts, then the sacking of 1515 wanted by the Swiss, then the definitive destruction in 1522, which literally canceled the town. It took about thirty years to recover from the devastation suffered.


The church of San Giovanni Battista, in Torno, is associated with its most precious relic. A German Archbishop, named Alemanno for his origins, returning from the First Crusade, came into possession – as the historian Primo Luigi Tatti writes in his Sacred Annals of the city of Como in 1683 – of “a leg of one of the innocent little , that the envy and cruelty of Herode killed in the birth of Christo; and a Nail of those who pierced the Savior on the Cross “.

After crossing the Adriatic Sea, he was determined to go on to Germany. But, having arrived in Torno, he was held back by a violent storm. He tried again several times, with equal success. He then began to see, in all these unexpected events, a sign of the divine will, as if This told him to leave the holy relics of the Holy Land on the spot. What he did, albeit reluctantly, depositing them in the church-sanctuary of San Giovanni Battista. And his journey could continue.


This church rises east of the promontory overlooking the Lario. It is mostly made of limestone called Moltrasio. The façade has a hut shape typical of the Romanesque style: above the arch of the window, there is a bas-relief depicting a dove, while there are two statues of the Annunciation on the sides of the lunette of the splendid Renaissance portal in white marble of Musso, made at the end of the fifteenth century.

The interior of the church is full of symbolic meanings and references to the mystery of the Redemption. It was thought from the outset as a re-proposition of the Body of Christ lying on the Cross. The interior of the church has a single, wide and majestic nave. The center of the apse of the presbytery does not correspond to the center of the façade, it is indeed slightly moved to the right for those entering, a movement that corresponds to the reclined head of Christ on the Cross.

Not only: there is a missing column along the nave, to be precise the third on the right side, entering. This indicates the pierced side of Our Lord, from which blood and water came out, symbol of the Sacraments of our Salvation. The bell tower has a single lancet floor and two mullioned windows with small decorative arches. It seems to be traced back to the 12th century.


On 11 June 1522 the armies of Como razed Torno to the ground, profaning the churches and lowering the sacred bronzes down from the bell towers. One of the soldiers of fortune succeeded in taking possession of the Holy Nail: bringing it to Bergamo, it also operated many miracles here. However, unexplained adversities began to happen to family members of the military, which convinced the author of the profanation to return the stolen goods.

To avoid the repetition of similar thefts, it was decided to keep the precious relic in a heavy chest of walnut wood, the same where it is still found today. This was and is equipped with seven keys, each of them in the possession of the parish priest, noble families and notables of the place (only in modern times, for practicality, all gathered in the hands of the priest alone). The caisson was then placed in a compartment behind the main altar (where it is today), removed from the sight of prying eyes and ill-intentioned.

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