TREMEZZO AND BELLAGIO, FOLLOWING THE FOOTPRINTS OF THE BLESSED OLIVELLI
In february 2018 a young man from Lake Como, Teresio Olivelli, has been beatified with a qualification of “martyr”. Following his footprints, for historical or religious interest or for mere curiosity, you can discover two sites among the most beautiful ones of the lake: Tremezzo and Bellagio.
Teresio was born in 1916 in a house situated just in front of St. James’ parish church of Bellagio borough, marked by a marble slab;
inside the magnificent romanesque church, dating back to the XI century, we find very ancient artworks, such as the marble medieval pulpit or the XVI cent. high altar in gilded wood, but also a very recent memorial for the martyr, created by the sculptor Bruno Luzzani with local stone and placed at the side of the baptismal font where Teresio was baptized by his uncle.
The Loppia hamlet is also worth a visit, with another romanesque church, St. Maria, a little harbour where the last “gondolas” of Lake Como are at repose, and the scenic alley of Villa Giulia: the villa itself is private-owned and not visitable. Teresio’s father worked here before the First World War and the elder son was born here.
Very soon the family moved to Mortara but maintaining relations with the uncle priest, who had become the archpriest in Tremezzo (and is buried in the local cemetery).
Since childhood Teresio is notable for his attention to the feeble, for his generosity, but also for his love of life, of art and beauty; a big sportsman, he used to climb the mountains and cross the lake with his rowing boat.
During his 29 years of life, he manages to graduate in Law, to participate as a volunteer to the tragic Russian Campaign saving the lives of many comrades, and to become Rector of a college.
Then he refused to cooperate with the nazi-fascists and went into hiding as a catholic “partisan”; sometimes he seeked a shelter inside the Tremezzo clergy house, his uncle’s home. Arrested in Milan and sent to Germany, he died in a concentration camp in january 1945 to protect his comrades.
We find in Tremezzo a monument to his memory, dating back to the Fifties of XX cent., very close to St. Lawrence parish church, a neo-gothic building sporting a very odd history: it was finished in the late XIX cent. after 150 years of work! The name of Olivelli was also given to the Parish Centre, to the CineTheatre, and to the Municipal Park.
You can reach this public garden by simply crossing the main road in front of the church.
The garden with its dramatic flight of steps in granite has become famous thanks to the shooting of well-known movies (such as Star Wars Episode 2) and to a very popular fashion shoot by Dolce & Gabbana.
Inside the garden of monumental trees there are also a cafeteria obtained from an ancient dock (you have the impression of walking on water because of the glass floor) and the Tarot Lantern, a whimsical octagonal structure built at the end of XVIII cent. by some wealthy families in order to meet here and play cards, nowadays changed into the Temple of Memory: two glass slabs inside are inscribed with a secular poetry by Pietro Calamandrei and with the Rebel’s Prayer by Teresio Olivelli, in memory of Italian Resistance against Fascism and Nazism.
FOLLOWING THE FOOTPRINTS OF THE BLESSED OLIVELLI
Write by Gigliola Foglia