Silentium – Discover the Piona Abbey on the promontory of Olgiasca in Colico, overlooking Lake Como.
Piona Abbey: the Cistercian monks in Colico
The Abbey overlooks Lake Como, immersed in quiet and greenery
Piona Abbey is located not far from Colico, but to get there you must first go up and then down the promontory of Olgiasca.
After a short ride on a cobbled street, perfectly accessible by vehicles, you will reach this oasis of peace and serenity where the Cistercian monks of the Priory of Piona stay.
“Silentium” is the word that welcomes the visitor immediately after crossing the gate that leads us to the pedestrian walkway to the abbey.
Two walking minutes and we are in front of the Piona Abbey: Lombard Romanesque style, with the adjoining cloister.
A simple facade with a single-lancet window and a bronze door divided into six panels, depicting the story of St. Benedict and taken from the “Dialogues” of St. Gregory the Great.
Single nave, about 20 meters long and 8 meters wide, with an apse with a barrel vault with frescoes.
The present building is the work of an extension of the previous church consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1138.
The square bell tower was rebuilt at the end of the eighteenth century, after the collapse, for hydrogeological instability, of the existing one of octagonal shape with a square base that was located on the opposite side of the church.
This position is also reflected in a recent discovery related to The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and attested by Ernesto Scolari*. After a series of renovations, in the background on the left window of the Last Supper emerges a typical landscape of the northern Lario where we see a church with an octagonal tower to its right: here is the Piona Abbey at its origin.
This depiction by Leonardo da Vinci, in one of his best known and admired works, comes from the knowledge of this land and wonderful landscapes and from the personal connection with Birago family, which owned the Commendam of the Priory of Piona
The cloister of Piona Abbey
The Cloister of the Piona Abbey has an undisputed charm. It was built around 1242 in a style that ranges from Romanesque to Gothic. Its quadrangular structure evokes the symbolic power of the number four:
- the four elements of the universe
- the four cardinal points
- the contempt of yourself, the contempt of the world, the love towards neighbor, the God’s love.
At the center of the cloister we see the source and the tree representing the source of the delights and the tree of life of the erathly paradise.
The curved arches are supported by wonderful capitals decorated with plant and figurative motifs, while along the walls, partially visible, there are the frescoes “Calendar with Saints” dating back to the beginning of the thirteenth century and the “Miracle of Saint Benedict” of the late twelfth century.
*Ernesto Scolari, «Leonardo, l’Abbazia di Piona e il Cenacolo»
Parking area at the Priory of Piona
There is a quite wide free parking where you can leave your car or motorbike and then walk to the church.
Immagine di copertina: Ph. Giovanni Libera
You may ask for a guided visit, but it’s necessary to contact a few days in advance the Monks and has the confirmation about the date.
The guided visit is free of charge, but an offer will be certainly appreciated by the Monks.
- 9.00 – 12 e 14.30 – 17.00
Monastic products’ sale times
- 9.00 – 12 e 14.30 – 17.00
- working days: ore 7:00
- festive days: ore 8:00 – 9:30 – 11:00 – 16:30 (the afternoon mass is not celebrated on Saturday and the days before festive days)
- Vespers: ore 18:30
Cover’s image © Giovanni Libera
Colico: where to stay
Piona AbbeyVia Abbazia di Piona, 35 – 23823 Colico