Once the site of a Roman fort and medieval settlement, Lake Como's only island forms its own little bay with the mainland, just offshore from Ossuccio. When the Lombards invaded northern Italy, the island held out as a Byzantine redoubt, and slowly filled with houses and churches, the whole known as Cristopolis. They even say the Holy Grail was deposited here for a time. Purchase admission tickets from the Antiquarium; boat tickets to the island are sold separately by taxi boat and ferry operators.

The medieval settlement was razed by Como in 1169 as punishment for its loyalty to Milan. Today, as silent witness to this terrible event, lie the scant ruins of the Romanesque Chiesa di Sant'Eufemia and, next to it, the more solid remnants of the triple apse of a pre-Romanesque church at the north end of the island.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

1. Antiquarium Archaeological Museum

0.27 MILES

Pay a visit to this tiny archaeological museum before heading out to Isola Comacina for an overview of the many historical objects unearthed on the island…

2. Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena

0.27 MILES

This tiny Romanesque church was first mentioned in 1169, and was likely built in the 11th century. Faint frescoes remain in the interior of the church,…

3. Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso

0.68 MILES

On the heights above Ossuccio, this lavish sanctuary is the destination for devoted pilgrims who make the steep 30-minute climb, passing a series of…

4. Lido di Lenno

1.09 MILES

Summer evenings in Lenno take on a hedonistic hue at the Lido di Lenno. People from near and far converge on this artificial sandy beach, located…

5. Villa Balbianello

1.24 MILES

A 1km walk along the (partially wooded) lake shore from Lenno's main square, Villa Balbianello has cinematic pedigree: this was where scenes from Star…

6. Funivia Argegno-Pigra

2.58 MILES

This cable car (about 300m north of Argengo's Piazza Roma) makes the five-minute climb to the 860m-high village of tiny Pigra every 30 minutes. From the…

7. Villa Carlotta

3.12 MILES

The star of the show on a lake shore not bereft of elegant touches, the Villa Carlotta is a fabulous fusion of neoclassical architecture and harmonious…

8. Villa Melzi d'Eril

3.81 MILES

The grounds of neoclassical Villa Melzi d’Eril are a highlight among Lake Como's (many) delightful places. The villa was built in 1808 for one of Napoleon…