Unusual museums around Lake Como

There are a number of specialised museums around Lake Como, some of which will interest a wider audience:

Como produces almost all of Europe’s silk, supplying every Italian designer you can think of, and two former factories have been converted into museums. One is the Museo didattico della Seta di Como, at Via Castelnuovo 1, in Como. The other is in Abbadia Lariano, on the eastern branch of the Lake.

The Temple of Volta on the lakefront at Como, is dedicated to the physicist whose name is now used to denote a unit of electromotive force. It contains one of the first batteries, the size of a tea-tray. For a more detailed account of the ‘temple’, read [post=109].

The Motor Guzzi museum in Mandello del Lario, on the eastern branch of the Lake, has more than 150 exhibits relating to the motorbikes they’ve produced since 1821.

The hamlet of San Giovanni di Bellagio, about twenty five minutes’ walk from the centre of Bellagio, houses a unique museum of navigational instruments. That may not sound very exciting but the exhibits are incredibly beautiful, like works of art. It’s as if they had to be magnificent, to enable them to throw the net of longtitude and latitude around the globe and bring explorers safely home again. Everyone should see this collection, which opens between 10 am and 1 pm every day, and in the afternoon by appointment.

A much grimmer place is the resistance museum in Dongo. What you can see inside are exhibits based on original documents and newspaper reports describing the role of the anti – fascist partisans in the area. It was in Dongo that Mussolini was captured whilst trying to escape Italy. His followers were executed there. But Mussolini was taken to Mezzegra and killed there, together with his mistress, Clara Petacci.

Unfortunately, none of the documents is translated into English, so if you don’t understand Italian or don’t have a guide who does, you can only get a vague impression of what it’s all about. However, there is a photograph of one short, simple document in Mussolini’s handwriting, which is also printed in Italian and French. It says something like:

‘The 52nd Garibaldi Brigade captured me today, Thursday 27 April at Dongo. The treatment, both during and after the capture, has been correct.’

A classic example of the banality of evil.