Festival of San Giovanni: Fun. Food. Firework
June, 15 2016 ( Updated August, 09 2017)
The most awaited festival on Lake Como, Sagra de San Giovanni or the Feast of San Giovanni will be held on June 25 this year. Tourists flock to the island in great numbers to behold the wonderful sight of the illuminated lake and the firework display on Comacina Island, the only island on Lake Como. On this occasion, the lake will be illuminated with thousands of Lumaghitt lights and candles will be placed on boats and windows and balconies of lakefront buildings. The festival has ancient roots and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Some of the most interesting facts about this age old festival are:
- The festival has been celebrated for almost nine centuries now.
- The firework display takes place in front of the Comacina Island in an area known as Zoca de l’Oli, or ‘Oil Basin.’ The name ‘Oil Basin’ alludes to the smooth and slippery water here which resembles oil.
- The fireworks of the festival commemorate the burning down of the Comacina Island by the inhabitants of Como on June 24, 1169. People of Lake Como had razed the island as a severe punishment against the inhabitants of the island who had supported Milan during the 10-year long battle between Como and Milan.
- The morning after the fireworks, processions of decorated boats, which are called Lucie, are conducted by boatmen who are dressed in traditional clothes.
- The festival is marked by a number of religious ceremonies and celebration and offers a great opportunity for picnic and outing amidst shows, music and competitions.
- The lumaghitt lights derive its name from the empty shells of molluscs which are used as wick candle holders to be cast across the lake.
The festival attracts a large number of visitors who want to be a part of this annual celebration. The roads from Argegno are closed by 7 pm and people begin to line up in queues from afternoon. It is, therefore, advisable that visitors book the passes for parking their vehicles. Non-residents need to procure passes from the local administration to park near the venue. The best views of the firework can be enjoyed from the decks of the boats on the lake or the area in front of the island. The firework and music show generally begin at 10:30 pm and goes on for about an hour. But do not leave immediately after the fireworks stop as the celebration goes on until late night. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes and carry a sweater as it might get a little chilly during the night.