Bellano, is a municipality of about 3300 inhabitants. Its conformation is characterized from the presence of the torrent Pioverna, dividing in two the town: the oldest part, holding the old port and the provostal Church, and the modern part with the train-station. Behind the town, the inland is characterized by numerous hamlets, and by many ancient and populous areas. Currently the most developed sector is the service sector, however, in the last century, the writer Antonio Balbiani rightfully called it the “little Manchester on the Lario” given its large textile plants.
Proceeding down “via Manzoni”, through the historic town centre, you can see numerous portals, courts, entrance halls of ancients patrician houses, bare stone stairs and heraldry symbols reminding the town’s 700s origins.
Whoever arrives in Bellano, finds himself in one of the most suggestive lakefronts of the oriental side of the Lario, admiring the splendid view of the towns and mountains on the opposite side of the lake. From here, through one of the many “viuzze” (small narrow streets) that pop out on the lake, you can arrive on the characteristic “via Manzoni”, which leads us in front of the church of “Santa Marta” (Saint Martha). A precious wooden assembly of nine life-size sculptures depicting the Deposition, attributed to Angelo Del Maino, known from 1496 to 1536, is conserved here.
On one side of the church of Santa Marta opens the piazza of the provostal church dedicated to Santi (Saints) Nazaro and Celso. The romanesque style built church has a façade crowned by upward sloping arches with alternating light and dark courses and a grand terra-cotta rosette. Rebuilt between 1342 and 1350, it presents remarkable frescoes bedecking the central vault, the pulpits, the presbytery and two big carved wood confessionals, the rich marble baptistery. Precious are the polyptych of the “Cappella di San Giovanni” (Chapel of Saint John) and delicate tempera painting depicting the “Madonna delle rose” (The Lady of the roses). Walking up the stairway on the right of the provostal church, you come to the church of San Rocco. Built in the XV century by the hands of the homonymous Venetian confraternity to preserve the walkers from pestilences. Presently it is dedicated to all the fallen Bellanese soldiers from all the wars and it holds two paintings of the Bellanese painter Giancarlo Vitali.
In the oldest part of Bellano stands the deconsecrated church of San Nicolao – Saint Nicholas, currently used for cultural events. Remarkable are the frescoes bedecking the church, witnesses of the past historic importance of the church.
In the hamlet of Lezzeno stands the “Santuario della Madonna” (Sanctuary of the Madonna). In Baroque style, it was built between 1690 and 1704 and designed by the architect Quadrio, just two years after the miracle, which took place on August 6th 1688. That day Bartolomeo Mezzera, passing by a small chapel he had had built, noticed that the Madonna depicted in a clay medallion was crying tears of blood.
Orrido is a must see. This natural gorge was formed over the centuries by the flowing waters of the Pioverna, carving out gigantic potholes and suggestive caverns. The dark sinuous recesses, the gloomy rumble of the turbulent waters have made the Orrido the most renowned tourist spot in the Lario area. . The “Cà del Diavol” or “Devil’s house” evokes collective fears of the devil and satanic rituals, embodying the mysterious lure of the place. A concrete walkway allows visitors to admire the beauty of a truly unique place.
Near the lake you can find public green lands and gardens and sports facilities: the multifunctional sport field, the indoor swimming pools at the “Lido di Bellano”, the sailing club “Circolo Vela Bellano” and a cycle track. Recently a new sail-like construction has arisen, the “Palasole”, a modern structure used for the numerous festivals the town organizes.
The main attraction is the renown Pesa Vegia. Celebrated on Juanary 5th, it attracts numerous spectators. It recalls, according to the myth, a fact happened during the Spanish domination, when a delegation of people from Bellano set off towards Como by boat, to advocate for the preservation of the old units of measure (the old weights – the Pesa Vegia), which were replaced by the Pesa Nova (new weights), of more difficult and complicated application, which was creating confusion among the local population, prevalently formed of traders and craftsmen. The delegation was successful and came back the night of January 5th 1606, joyful, they were able to conserve the Pesa Vegia. This is the myth, coincidental to the Epiphany, that has always been celebrated together with the parade of the Magi.
Bellano has become a touristic town, attracting people from all over Italy and Europe, thanks to the presence of prominent artists as well. Suffice to think about Giancarlo and Velasco Vitali, or to Andrea Vitali who has always set his novels in the town of Bellano. Many among his readers visit Bellano in order to see these fascinating areas, from which the writer draws inspiration.