comballo lake como

The Sagra di San Giovanni and the comballo

  26 June 2014

There are only few days at the Festival of San Giovanni on Isola Comacina.

Don’t miss the fireworks on Saturday and the religious ceremony on Sunday.

Today we reach the Isola Comacina by boat (battello), while it was once used the comballo (cumball).
The comballo was the wooden boat used to transport people in procession to the Isola Comacina (Castell) until a few years ago.
For simplicity of construction and its structural characteristics, comballo spread steadily on Lake Como in each historical period.
The bottom of this boat was made from a single flat part that came from stern to bow curve.
It had an impressive boat helm housed on one side and a flag supported by a tree (arbusel), located at about a third from the bow.
The flag exploited only the tailwind and there were two rowing bow to proceed in the absence of wind and docking maneuvers.
The type of construction of the comballo became part of the professional tradition of master craftsmen of Como Lake, in fact corresponded to the needs of the local transport, mainly in construction materials.
The inhabitants of the Lake Como called him the “mule” for his rough style and its essential lines.
When comballi sailed at full load had the sides just above the water surface of the lake, because of this frequent shipwrecks occurred, they are attested by the rich iconographic refers to “ex voto” preserved in Sanctuaries on Lake Como.
Transport by water with comballi became increasingly rare since the beginning of the twentieth century.

By participating to the Sagra di San Giovanni on Isola Comacina, you can see a collection at the Antiquarium in Ossuccio.

[image source: cuginischiantarelli.it]