San Giovanni Fireworks: A Timeless Celebration on Isola Comacina in Lake Como
La Sagra di San Giovanni is the oldest event in Lake Como, known for its tradition, art, faith, and folklore. It finds its enchanting setting on Isola Comacina, making it a unique and remarkable occasion. The festival, featuring spectacular fireworks and a music show — the most renowned fireworks display in Lake Como — as well as the symbolic burning of Isola Comacina, commemorates the glorious past of the Tremezzina area and Lombardy. It also marks the beginning of the tourist season in the Centro Lario region.
The Festival of San Giovanni (Sagra di San Giovanni) program includes the grand fireworks display, a solemn procession on the island with costumed participants, a regatta featuring the historic “Lucie” boats of Lake Como, and gastronomic evenings.
Historical Background of Isola Comacina:
During the War of the Ten Years, which erupted in 1118 due to the rivalry between Como and Milan for control over major trade routes and Alpine passes, Isola Comacina and many other municipalities in the Lake Como region sided with Milan. Despite suffering two bitter defeats against the Milanese duchy, Como was finally conquered in 1127. The devastating loss prompted the people of Como to ally with Frederick Barbarossa during his anti-Milan expedition in Italy. Isola Comacina quickly fell under the control of Como and was invaded, set ablaze, and razed to the ground in 1169. The island was never repopulated, and the few survivors relocated to Varenna, which became known as “insula Nova” (New Island) after that.
The Festival of San Giovanni (Sagra di San Giovanni) is a testament to the resilience and cultural heritage of the region. The grand fireworks display, synchronized with captivating music, illuminates the night sky of Lake Como, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that captivates visitors. The symbolic burning of Isola Comacina represents the island’s historical sacrifice and commemorates its significance in the local narrative. The regatta, featuring the elegant “Lucie” boats, showcases the region’s maritime traditions and adds a touch of splendour to the festivities.
La Sagra di San Giovanni plays an important role in keeping the cultural heritage of the Lake Como region. It serves as a reminder of the struggles, triumphs, and traditions that have shaped the area’s history. By participating in this annual celebration, locals and visitors immerse in the past, art, and folklore of Isola Comacina but also contribute to preserving and promoting the unique cultural identity of Isola Comacina and its surroundings.
La Sagra di San Giovanni on Isola Comacina is a testament to the Lake Como region’s enduring spirit and rich heritage. This age-old festival, with its captivating fireworks, symbolic rituals, and mouthwatering cuisine, offers an immersive and unforgettable experience.
Sagra di San Giovanni
Dates: 24-25 June 2023
Time: Fireworks start around 10:30 p.m.
Location: Isola Comacina, Loc. Ossuccio, 22016 Tremezzina (CO)
Sign up for COMO LAKE Today newsletter.