Como. I. A Province Of Italy, in Lombardy, bounded N. by Switzerland and S. by Milan; area, 1,048 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 477,642. It is traversed by branches of the Lepontine and Rhsetian Alps and other mountain ridges. It is dotted with lakes, and watered by several rivers, of which the Adda and Ticino are most important. It produces corn, wine, fruit, and silk, and rears horses, mules, and cattle; contains mines of lead, iron, and copper, and quarries of white marble; and possesses manufactories of cloth and woollen and silk goods, firearms, paper, soap, candles, etc. The people are industrious, and there is at least one elementary school in each commune. Famous in ancient times as lapidaries and masons, many of the inhabitants still follow the same pursuits, and others travel about supporting themselves by the sale of barometers, looking-glasses, and kindred articles manufactured in the town of Como. The province, with the rest of Lombardy, was ceded by Austria to Italy in 1859. II. A city (anc. Comum), capital of the province, situated at the S. end of the lake of Como, 24 m.
N. N. W. of Milan; pop. in 1872, 24,350. It is connected by steamboat with Camerlata, about a mile distant, and thence by railway with Milan. It has many suburbs along the lake, of which the most extensive are Vico on the west, abounding with villas, of which the villa Raimondi or Odescalchi is the most splendid, and St. Agos-tino, the manufacturing suburb. It is the see of a bishop, and has a splendid marble cathedral, begun in 1396; a remarkable church of still greater antiquity dedicated to St. Fedele; a town hall, completed in 1213; and a magnificent theatre built in 1813. There are several institutions of charity and learning, including three gymnasia, and a lyceum with a library of 15,000 volumes and a reading room. On a hill south of the city is the lofty tower of the Baradello. Here Napoleone della Torre, having been taken prisoner by his rival Ottone Vis-con ti, Jan. 21, 1277, was shut up in an iron cage, in which he died by his own hands after 19 months of painful confinement. Pliny the Younger (and perhaps also the Elder), Volta (a square, adorned with his statue by Marchesi, bears his name), and Innocent XI. were natives of this town. It has manufactures of silks, woollens, cotton, yarn, and soap.
In former times the silk trade of Como vied with that of Lyons. After the revolution of February, 1848, the people of Como were among the first to shake off the yoke of the Austrians, and drove their troops from the city. III. Lake of (Ital. Lago di Como; anc. Lacus Larius), a picturesque and tortuous sheet of water, full of promontories, gulfs, and little bays. At its northern extremity a narrow channel unites it with a kind of distinct lake, called Laghetto, which receives the river Maira. Thence it extends S. W. and S. for about 15 m., and at Bellagio divides into two branches. The W. branch retains the name of Como, and is 18 m. long. The other is named Lago di Lecco, from the town, of that name; its length is about 12 m. The river Adda, which enters the lake at its junction with the Laghetto, leaves it at Lecco. The width of the main lake in most places is not more than 1 or 2 m., but just above the separation of the two branches it is 3 m. across. The banks are formed of precipitous mountains from 2,000 to 3,000 ft. high.
A mild and genial climate, a fertile soil, profusion of fruits and vegetables, and prosperous villages scattered over the country, combine to render its banks one of the most delightful regions of Italy. Among the handsome mansions which line the shores are the villa Melzi, the villa Ciani, formerly d'Este, long the residence of Queen Caroline of England, the villa Carlotta, formerly Sommariva, which contains a fine museum, and the villa called Pliniana, on account of the intermittent spring described both by the elder and younger Pliny, and still exhibiting the same phenomena.