Visit Piona Abbey
Piona Abbey is a catholic abbey on a peninsula on the north-east shore of Lake Como and a few kilometres from Olgiasca (in the area called Colico), in the Lombardy region of Italy.
Explore Piona abbey
Italy This Way comment: the Abbey of Piona is in quite a remote location and outside the most visited area of Lake Como but is an interesting abbey in a picturesque location and a visit was one of the highlights of the lake.
Your first challenge is to find the abbey - the signposts were not easy to find. As you drive through the village, the road towards Piona abbey becomes cobbled and more narrow until you start to wonder if it is a good idea to drive along it.
It is possible to park here in the centre of the village and walk to the abbey (about two kilometres), but the road is in reasonable condition all the way so driving is less of a challenge than you might guess when you see it...although it would also make a pleasant walk, so no problem whatever you decide...
The abbey is dominated by the church, which is in the roman style and was built in the early 12th century. An earlier church had stod here since the 7th century, but little remains of this earlier building except a part of the apse, behind the current church. The tower that dominates the outside of Piona abbey ws added in the 18th century.
The inside of the abbey church is rather austere - a simple rectangle shape about 20 metres long and built of grey stone - but around the apse you can see charming medieval frescoes of the apostles.
Next to the church, the cloisters is surounded by roman style arches. As you walk around the cloisters you can see more fragments of medieval frescoes, in particular on the north wall. These are fascinating if you pause to take a close look: the most important shows an annual calendar with the important tasks that the monks need to carry out.
Around Piona abbey there are gardens, which are peaceful and nicely maintained, and include an olive grove and places with nice views across Lake Como as well as a small shrine area.
The most visited villages around Lake Como are to the south of Piona abbey, near Varenna.
If you are exploring all around the lake see our Lake Como guide for all the principal destinations and attractions.