The feast of S.Giovanni

The feast of S.Giovanni, an ancient propitionary ritual that was held by farmers to favour the summer harvest, is one of the most important festivals in the Lario district and commemorates the bloody battles that shook the entire region. Everything traces back to the war between the Holy Roman Empire and the region of Lombardia, when Milan and other communes joined forces against Frederick I of Swabia, also known as Barbarossa. Como, who was an ally of the Empire, was severely besieged by the Milanese army. Reinforcement came from Argegno, Mandello and the feuds of the Three Parishes (Dongo, Gravedona and Sorico) while the Comacina Island decided to support Milan instead. At that time, in fact, the island was a fortified citadel where the relics of the first Christian martyrs - a treasure donated by S.Abbondio in the 5th century - were jealousy preserved. In 1169, out of revenge for the wrong they had suffered, the army of Como attacked the stronghold
and razed it to the ground.

The feast of S.Giovanni takes place on the Sunday nearest June 24, but the most spectacular event is held the night before, when the Zoca de l'oli (basin of oil) are illuminated, with the commemoration of the fire that raged throughout the island. In the past, small oil lamps used to be lit and placed inside snail shells (lumaghìt), following the tradition of cooking stewed nails the night before S.Giovanni. Today, a majestic firework display attracts tourists from everywhere, which invade the shores and crowd the boats. A boat parade departs from Como in commemoration of the arrival of the inhabitants of Como with their fleet. The day after, the historic boats carry the relics of the martyrs and the inhabitants of Ossuccio (allegedly known as descendants of the islanders) back to the island. A Holy Mass is then celebrated in the midst of the Roman remains of the church of S.Eufemia. The festival ends with the boat race of the Lucie, followed by tasting of typical dishes.

Saturday evening, waiting for the fireworks...

Sunday: the Holy Mass on the island.

The historic boats carry the relics of the martyrs.