Esino Lario

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Esino Lario
Comune di Esino Lario
Esino Lario from above
Esino Lario from above
Location in the province of Lecco
Location in the province of Lecco
Esino Lario is located in Italy
Esino Lario
Esino Lario
Location of Esino Lario in Italy
Coordinates: 46°0′N 9°20′E / 46.000°N 9.333°E / 46.000; 9.333Coordinates: 46°0′N 9°20′E / 46.000°N 9.333°E / 46.000; 9.333
Country Italy
Region Lombardy
Province Province of Lecco (LC)
Frazioni Bigallo, Ortanella
 • Total 18.7 km2 (7.2 sq mi)
Elevation 913 m (2,995 ft)
Population (Jan. 2014)[1]
 • Total 760
 • Density 41/km2 (110/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Esinesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 23825
Dialing code 0341
Patron saint San Vittore Martire said Mauritano
Saint day May 8
Website Municipal website

Esino Lario (/ɛˈsɪnɒ/) is a comune of the Province of Lecco in the Italian region of Lombardy, located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Milan, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) northwest of Lecco, and about 4.3 kilometres (2.7 mi) from the eastern shore of Lake Como. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 772 and an area of 18.7 square kilometres (7.2 sq mi).[2] The municipality of Esino Lario contains the frazione of Bigallo and Ortanella.

The origin of the settlement is documented by archaeological findings. The area around Esino Lario is surrounded by Alpine mountains, where the karst landscape has produced fossils, boulders and caves, of which the most well-known is the Icebox of Moncodeno. The municipality is part of the Mountain Community of Valsassina, Valvarrone, Val d'Esino and Riviera and is entirely within the Parco delle Grigna Settentrionale (Regional Park of the Northern Grigna).

Esino Lario borders the following municipalities: Cortenova, Lierna, Mandello del Lario, Parlasco, Pasturo, Perledo, Primaluna, Taceno, Varenna.


Esino Lario from Grigna
Esino Lario Town Hall

The town is located in the Alpine foothills along the north-eastern slopes of Grigna mountain group, 4.3 kilometres (2.7 mi) from the eastern shore of Lake Como. It sits at the head of the small valley of Valsassina. The town consists of two distinct centres: Upper Esino and Lower Esino, located at an elevation of around 900 metres (3,000 ft); other minor localities within the municipality are Cainallo, at almost 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) above sea level, and Ortanella, a little less than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).

The district is entirely mountainous: the lowest point reached is 554 metres (1,818 ft), while the highest point is the summit of Grigne, 2,409 metres (7,904 ft).[3] The presence of dolomite (rocks composed of calcium carbonate and magnesium) in the area, common to rest of the foothills of the Alps of Lombardy, has led to the presence of numerous karst areas within the municipality.

Of particular note is the Moncodeno, an extensive amphitheater located on the north of the northern Grigna at an altitude of between 1,700 metres (5,600 ft) and 2,300 metres (7,500 ft),[4][5] characterised by the presence of a large number of sinkholes (depressions in the ground) and almost 500 caves, formed by the combined action of the karst and erosion by ice that covered the area during the ice ages.[6] In one of these caves, the Icebox of Moncodeno, are deposits of underground ice.[5][7]

The locality is also characterised by the abundant presence of marine fossil deposits, a result of the geological history of the Alpine foothills, which emerged from the sea during the tectonic movements of the Alpine orogeny in the Cenozoic era. These deposits have long been studied by palaeontologists; among the first interested scholars was the geologist and palaeontologist Antonio Stoppani during the 19th century.


Esino Lario, like most of the Valsassina valley, features a humid, temperate climate, cooler than in the Po Valley due to the higher elevations. At the nearest weather station, in Barzio, (elevation 770 metres (2,530 ft) — Esino Lario's elevation is about 100 metres (330 ft) higher), mean annual temperature is around 10 °C/50 °F (compare, for example, with around 13 °C (55 °F) in Milan). Precipitation is abundant, with more than 1,700 millimetres (67 in) falling in an average year. Rainfall is frequent in every season, with a little less in winter when there can be snowfall. As in most temperate climates, there are prolonged and well-defined intermediate seasons.

Summers are moderate, with frequent rain showers and thunderstorms. Mean summer temperature is around 19 °C (66 °F), higher in July and August, and slightly lower in June; even during the most intense heat waves, although maximum temperatures very rarely exceed 32 °C (90 °F). Winters are quite mild; the average temperature for December, January and February is around 1–2 °C (34–36 °F), more or less the same temperature recorded in the Po Valley at much lower elevations. This is due to the phenomenon of inversion (a deviation from the normal atmospheric behaviour, where temperature increases with elevation) frequently observed in midwinter when subtropical high-pressure systems reach northern Italy. Winters can become snowy, as extratropical cyclones carry moist and cool air from North Atlantic.

Climate data for Esino Lario
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) −1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 67
Average rainy days 9 6 7 14 16 14 11 13 11 13 12 10 136
Source: World Weather Online[8]


Historical population data:

National Institute of Statistics (Italy)


The municipality of Esino Lario was created in 1927 by the merger of the municipalities of Esino Lower and Upper Esino.[9]

Prehistory, Celts and Romans[edit]

Fossils preserved in the Museum of Grigne

The last glaciation of the quaternary period, the Würm, began 70 thousand years ago covering the Como area and it profoundly changed the land's appearance – shaping the sides of the mountains, creating fertile moraine terraces, leaving many signs of its passage with boulders. The landscape of Esino Lario testifies the Alpine orogeny in an exceptional way with the presence of fossils, boulders and caves and because of its exceptionality was specifically studied and deepened as early in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Human presence in the territory is documented since the Neolithic period. Esino archaeological findings are particularly significant from the 5th century BC, and show that the area was a crossing point of one of the main roads: the one along the eastern shore of the lake, reaches Colico and valleys of the Adda and Imera; because of overhanging rocks between Mandello and Bellano, from Lierna the road climbed to Ortanella (currently a frazione of Esino) subsequently declined to Vezio and Bellano. This is the reason for the importance of remote Esino. Over time many minor roads intersect, for economic reasons, the territory. Archaeological finds testify numerous tombs and Celtic necropolis in Esino Lario. The area was a strategic point with detachments of warriors-pastors. During the Roman period, to defend themselves from the incursions of the barbarians, the Romans prepared protective lines that communicated with each other by fires at night and smoke in the daytime. Castle Esino – a tower of which remains – was one of the fortified points added to a defensive chain. Other archaeological finds with tombs buried document the period. It is believed that in those times the primitive church arose.

The Lombards[edit]

At the fall of the Roman Empire, after the domination of the Heruli of Odoacer and the Goths of Theodoric, the Byzantines conquered Italy with a long and disastrous war. Immediately after, the Lombards came down from Friuli and in 569 conquered Milan. A contingent from the Byzantine Empire, under the command of magister militum Francione, defended Esino Lario, in the hope of a rescue against the Lombards. They resisted for 20 years, avoiding the large reprisals that followed the death of King Alboin and welcoming wealthy Roman refugees. In the end, Francione had to repair in Isola Comacina and, after six months of siege, surrender. The Lombard king Autari conquered the territory. The Lombards allowed that local people continued to work the land directly, demanding, as a levy, that a third of the production was confiscated in the "salt".

The free municipalities[edit]

Private act

Towards the end of the twelfth century, with the strengthening of the producing classes, the "free communes" were developed. One formed was the General Community of Valsassina, to which Esino Lario belongs. It lays its statutes, derived from ancient practices.[10] Each village was administered by its board, formed by the heads of families. A representative of one of the two municipalities, Higher and Lower, then is in the Council of the Community General which was based in Introbio. There, in the palace of the Praetorian Guard, civilian criminal justice was administered initially by the Consuls, later by a mayor.

The Spanish domination[edit]

In the first decades of the sixteenth century, the eastern Lario was close to the armies involved in the dispute between France and Spain. An adventurer, Gian Giacomo Medici, attempted to form a principality on Lake Como and a fleet take long in check the forces of Francesco II Sforza. Bellano was plundered and famine raged in every village. A duke died without heirs, and Milan went to the Spanish in 1535. There followed two centuries of gradual decay: the archives of Esino reveal misery, oppression, robberies and injustices. The only glimmer of light are the two pastoral visits of Charles Borromeo to Esino in 1565 and in 1582. The plague of 1630 claimed many victims in Valsassina; fifty in Esino. Along the rest of the century, then, was a continuous drip of starvation and hunger. In the second half of 1600, despite the ancient privileges, Valsassina became a feud chamber.

Italian unification[edit]

A man with a mule transporting bundles of wood at Bridge Vineyard

Although a small town and then very poor, Esino participated in the Risorgimento movement (Italian reunification). At the news of the revolt in Milan in 1848, a courageous group came from Lecco and joined volunteers in the Esino Lario to come to the aid of the Milanese after five days. Upon the return of the Austrians, the most vocal were kept for some time in prison in Bellano. Around 1859, Esino joined the Italian National Guard with weapons, uniformed men and a marching band. Pietro Pensa, a young student, participated as a volunteer in the campaigns of Sicily and Naples, and was decorated with bronze medal. The first 50 years of the Kingdom of Italy marked were very hard for the population. Wood was no longer required for the coal needed for melting furnaces, and could only be sold afar.

The reduction of glaciers was in progress, reducing the cultivated land, and population growth soon pushed emigration. Many Italians moved to destinations such as South America or California. Despite this decline, some works were achieved in the town: there were newly cobbled streets to the lake and to the mountain, a distance of twenty kilometres; at the end of the century and in 1903, also constructed were two aqueducts for public fountains.

20th century[edit]

125 soldiers from Esino died during the First World War, four of which were decorated with silver medals and three with bronze. After the war, an important work initiated the transformation of the local economy by agro-silvo-pastoral, a new road[11] opened in 1925. The meeting of the two municipalities, upper and lower, which in 1927 formed the new town of Esino Lario, and with the unification of the schools, an improvement in performance begun that has not been matched anywhere else. In 1930 the current cemetery was constructed.

The Second World War presented a setback. Guerrilla warfare involved the area and particularly recognised was the work of the parish priest and civic administrators, for welfare of the country. In 1958, the road from the Lake Como was widened and paved; in 1957 it was connected to Ortanella. After subsequent upgrades to the aqueduct were made from 1950 to 1967, it was inaugurated in 1975. In 1974 came the first treatment plant for sewage, and in 1975 renovations took place to Esino's City Hall.


List of mayors of Esino Lario
Period Mayor Party
Giulio Nasazzi
1956 1975 Pietro Pensa Civic List Stella Alpina
1975 1980 Giuseppe Bertarini
1980 1990 Carlo Maria Pensa Christian Democracy
1990 1999 Giovanni Grosso Christian Democracy
1999 2006 Constant Grassi Civic List
2009 2014 Giovanni Dell'Era Civic List
2014 2015 commissioner* commissioner*
2015 now Pietro Pensa Civic List Stella Alpina

* No mayor was elected in May 2014 due to a lack of candidates.[12]



Historically the main economic activity of Esino Lario is linked to the cultivation of forests of beech and hornbeam. Esino Lario was part of a group of municipalities by Grigne which provided charcoal for iron production in Valsassina. The management of the forests as a common good is a peculiarity of Esino compared to neighbouring territories; forests still belong to the city and are divided for use between residents and partially transmitted by hereditary right.


Tourism in Esino Lario began in the late 19th century with the Abbot Antonia Stoppani and with the first geologists interested in exploring the fossils of Grigne. Becoming an economic center of the country in the 1960s, a nickname for Esino Lario was "The Pearl of the Grigne". During the 1970s, the summer period of each year was incredibly busy, with around 12,000 visitors staying, bringing the need to manage services in the months of July and August when the capacity of the infrastructure is exceeded.

Extra water is taken from the aqueduct of Valsassina and are started the ski resorts have increased flow of tourists in winter. In the nineties the tourism began to decline. The poor snowfall of recent years are closing ski slopes.

Logo for Wikimania 2016

The town has been selected to host Wikimania, an annual Wikimedia conference, in June 2016.[13]

Culture and community[edit]

Urban design and site-specific art work in via Montefiori 19 Esino Lario

Villa Clotilde is a building within the centre of Esino Lario. The building houses the tourist office, the public library, the Archivio Pietro Pensa with the specialised library of local history, the headquarters of the Eco Grigne, part of the collection of the Museum of Grigne and some works of contemporary art. The villa was also home for a few years of school reopened tapestry of Esino Lario.


City Library

The town library since 2008 based in Villa Clotilde Via Montefiori 19. The library was founded on the initiative of volunteers and since 2010 is the point of lending library system of the Province of Lecco. The specialised library of local history – which is represented by the book collection of the Archives Pietro Pensa– is located in the same building and open to the public for consultation only.

Archivio Pietro Pensa e biblioteca specialistica di storia locale

(Pietro Pensa Archive and Specialized Library of Local History) The Pietro Pensa Archive is a private store based in Villa Clotilde and operated by the Friends of the Museum of Grigne Onlus. The archive preserves ancient documents (14th–20th centuries) and documentation of engineer, administrator and local historian Pietro Pensa. Inside the archive there are 182 parchments, documents of the areas of Valsassina, Esino Lario, Lario and Valtellina, books, photographs and microform.[14]


The Museum of Grigne
Museum of Grigne

The Museum of Grigne in Esino Lario is the first local museum in the Province established in the 1930s by the then parish priest Don Giovanni Battista Rocca to let the public know the intricate history of the district. The museum preserves and demonstrates the evolution of man and his environment from its origins until today. For this reason, the collections are organised into three distinct sections, linked by the logic of territoriality, dedicated to geology, the study of flora and fauna and local history.[15] The museum is part of the Museum System of the Province of Lecco.[16]

Ecomuseum of Grigne

The Ecomuseum of Grigne is a municipal ecomuseum formed in 2008 on the initiative of the Friends of the Museum of Grigne Onlus (managing body) and the City, and recognised by the Lombardy Region in 2009. The Ecomuseum of Grigne enhances the relationship between man and the mountain and involving communities, associations and operators.[17]


Patrons of contemporary art

In 2007 the Friends of the Museum of Grigne Onlus started production of contemporary art works commissioned from documentations by Pietro Pensa and then also from the documentation of the municipal archives of Brivio, and Dress landscapes. The first work is an installation of Rossella Biscotti made with images of the photographic collection. This was followed by Warburghiana, Wintermute (edited by Anna Daneri), Roberto Paci Dalò, Impossible Sites dans la rue with Giuditta Nelli, Salottobuono, Mao Fusina, Antonio Scarponi, Francesca Cogni and Donatello De Mattia.[18]


Religious sites[edit]

Church of St. Pietro in Ortanella
Church of San Giovanni in Esino Inferiorie
  • Parish Church of San Vittore Martyr Castle. The Parish of St. Vittore dates from the fifteenth century and is part of the Diocese of Milan. In the thirteenth century, the church is in the employ of the Parish of Varenna, perhaps at the beginning of the fourteenth century goes to the Parish of Perledo and then detaches bake the fifteenth century, being founded in 1455.[19] In the nineteenth and twentieth century the parish of Esino is included in the parish and vicariate of Perledo until 1971 when it is attributed to the deanery Alto Lario in the pastoral zone III of Lecco.[20] In 1552 was established canonically the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and in 1662 the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, which in 1722 will be joined by *Archbishop Benedetto Odescalchi Grass[21]
  • Church of St. Pietro in Ortanella. A site characterised by a high historical and archaeological interest.[22]
  • Oratorio di San Nicolao bishop of the brotherhood of the Blessed Sacrament. Shrine of the fallen with the remains of the fallen of the First and Second World Wars.
  • Subsidiary church of St. John the Baptist in Lower Esino
  • Subsidiary church of St. Anthony in Esino Superiore
  • Church Cainallo
  • Chapel of Our Lady of Pianche in locations Pscenche ancient road Esino Inferiore – Varenna
  • Chapel of the Crucifix in locations Crocefis ancient road Esino Superiore – Perledo
  • Chapel of San Grato Bishop in town Sen Graa in fraz. Bigallo on the road to new Ortanella
  • Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows in the locality Aguei
  • Via Crucis Michele Vedani.
  • Gisöl Fat (chapel) locations Pozzal Vec to Ortanella – fresco Crucifixion

Civil architectures[edit]

  • Villa Clotilde
  • Baita "Minuccia" ( Mino Fiocchi ) with Our Lady of Ciclamini of Michele Vedani
  • Washing and Poz Sen de Carlo (Wash and Pozzo di San Carlo ), and old wash trough for the watering to Esino locations in Lower Canal at the beginning of the 'old road to Bigallo and Alpe di Esino
  • Washing NOF (Wash new), public wash of the first '900 at the beginning of the ancient road to Esino Lower Ortanella.
  • Pozz de Sen Gioan (Pozzo di San Giovanni), for the watering trough at Esino Lower on the ancient road to Varenna.
  • FESE, municipal fountain to Esino Superiore with mosaic depicting Jesus with the Samaritan woman.

Military architecture[edit]

Tower Esino[22]


Varenna-Esino-Perledo station

Esino Lario is served by the following roads:

The nearest public airports to the town are Milan Malpensa Airport, Il Caravaggio International Airport or Linate Airport.

The closest rail station to the town is Varenna-Esino, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Data from ISTAT—1st January 2014
  2. ^ All demographics and other statistics: Italian statistical institute Istat.
  3. ^ [1] Archived March 13, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Karstification". valsassinaexpo (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "ESPLORAZIONI IN MONCODENO E RELECCIO, GRIGNA" (PDF). (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  6. ^ [2] Archived March 15, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Citterio, Michele; Turri, Stefano. "Studio dei depositi perenni di ghiaccio e neve in Moncodeno (Grigna Settentrionale, Lecco)". Monitoraggio e ricerca sui ghiacciai (in Italian). University of Milan. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Esino Lario: Average Temperatures and Rainfall". World Weather Online. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Royal Decree No. 1648 of 12 August 1927". Official Gazette of the Kingdom of Italy. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  10. ^ "The Statutes of Valsassina". Archivio Pietro Pensa (in Italian). Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Agricoltura :: Direttiva per la viabilità agro-silvo-pastorale". Regione Lombardia (in Italian). Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Esino senza sindaco, la Prefettura nomina il commissario" (in Italian). Lecconotizie. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Clamoroso: Esino Lario Capitale di Wikipedia nel 2016. Battuta Manila!!!" (in Italian). Lecco News. 24 December 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Archivio". Archivio Pietro Pensa (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Museo". Museo Delle Grigne (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Culture, Identità e Autonomie" (in Italian). Regione Lombardia. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Ecomuseo delle Grigne". Ecomuseo delle Grigne (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  18. ^ Del Drago, Elena (2009). Guida ai luoghi dell'arte contemporanea (in Italian). p. 42. 
  19. ^ "Parish of San Vittore". Lombardia Beni Culturali (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  20. ^ Alessandra Baretta, Parish of San Vittore sec. XV – [1989], 04/01/2007, Sheet
  21. ^ "Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament". Lombardia Beni Culturali (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  22. ^ a b Guides Italy: Lombardy (9th ed.). Italian Touring Club. 1987. p. 338. 
  23. ^ "Road of the Wayfarer". Valsassina Cultura (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Magni, Maria. "200 years of the Carabinieri and the General Mino". (in Italian). Retrieved 31 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • David Robertson, Sarah Stewart, Italian Lakes, Hunter Publishing, 2004, p. 19.
  • Richard Sale, Italian Lakes, Hunter Publishing, 2006, p. 112.
  • Paulist Press, Beds and Blessings in Italy: A Guide to Religious Hospitality, Hidden Spring, 2010, p. 165.

External links[edit]