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Piona

On Olgiasca Peninsula, on the eastern shore of Lake Como, stands Piona Abbey. The history of Piona begins in 610 when an oratory dedicated to Saint Giustina was built on the peninsula. Reconsecrated in 1138, it became a Cluniac monastery in 1169. The abbey church is built based on the model typical of small Romanesque buildings in the Como area. Inside, two marble lions supporting a holy-water font and 13th-century frescoes stand out in particular. At the side of the church is a fascinating cloister built between 1252 and 1275 in a style of transition between Romanesque and Gothic; it is surrounded by beautiful columns with figurative and plant motifs. Also in the cloister are two splendid 12th and 13th-century frescoes. The monastery began to decline shortly after the cloister was built, leading to its closure in 1798. Its rebirth began in the 20th century and it became an abbey in the 1970s.

Around the abbey buildings there is a vast green area maintained by the Cistercian monks and a shop where visitors can buy excellent liqueurs and herbal infusions. The abbey is open all year round – www.cistercensi.info/piona