This place offers two interesting destinations to visit, a nice small church and a big villa, now in decay, but with a fascinating history.
Cortenova, a village of around 1,300 inhabitants in the province of Lecco in Lombardy, is situated on the left bank of the creek Pioverna, on the slopes of the Grigna in the heart Valsassina valley. In December 2002, a landslide caused a lot of damage, destroying much of the suburb Bindo, which was later rebuilt. This place offers two interesting destinations to visit, a nice small church and a big villa, now in decay, but with a fascinating history.
The Church of San Biagio
A bit isolated from Bindo, a suburb of Cortenova, the small Church of San Biagio (Saint Blaise Church) is considered to be one of the oldest religious buildings in the Valsassina valley, probably originated from a church dedicated to St. Maurice at the end of the 13th century, that in 1566 was devoted to the Saints Biagio and Lazarus bishop.
Completely rebuilt in 1580 the church got its present form in the 18th century as indicated by the date 1728 on the wall next to the bell tower, while the date 1770 inscribed on the portal refers probably to a restructuring that involved the presbytery. Also the high altar with its marble frame, surmounted by a wooden statue of the Saint Biagio, probably belongs to that time. In 1875 Tagliaferri painted, on the dome of the presbytery, the Holy Spirit as a dove, the Evangelists on the spandrels, and a Miracle of Saint Biagio on the left wall.
To the north of the nave stands the bell tower, perhaps built on the ruins of a former normal tower. It has a smooth shape and is divided into two parts and crowned with a belfry that was added in 1932, when the bells were recast.
The interior of the small church has been refitted in order to remove the largely damaged and crumbling plasters of the 18th century nave, which were replaced in the traditional forms, keeping the game of colors in antique red and white ivory. The restoration included the cleaning of the stone elements, the wooden doors and metal elements. The base of the tower has been completely cleaned from the crumbling plaster completely unrecoverable.
The restoration of the exterior and of the bell tower were carried out respectively in 2001 and in 2002 thanks to the support of the Fondazione della Provincia di Lecco within the initiatives of “restitutions” project, i. e. the commitment to protect and restore the artistic heritage of the Lecco territory and give it back, in all its original beauty, to the local communities.
“Red House” or “Ghost Mansion”?: Villa De Vecchi at Cortenova
Villa de Vecchi is an imposing beautiful Baroque building of the second half of the 19th century, situated in Bindo Cortenova, in the middle of a large park visible from the provincial road SP 62 of the Valsassina, near the tunnel constructed to cross the mountain collapsed in 2002. The Villa, now in ruins, is surrounded by an atmosphere of mystery and strange phenomenon. Built in 1858 in an eclectic style by the architect Alessandro Sidoli on behalf of the Count Felice de Vecchi, it is in a state of neglect since over 50 years. The legends of ghosts related to it (some people told that passing near the villa during the night they heard someone playing a piano) are also known abroad and the villa is cited among the "20 Haunting Abandoned Mansions of the World" by the English website www.urbanghostsmedia, which lists haunted houses all over the world. The Villa is described this way: “In the mountains east of Lake Como stands a beautiful Baroque villa abandoned for decades. The source of a local urban legend, Villa de Vecchi – or the Ghost Mansion – was built by a nobleman whose life ended in tragedy”.
A series of photos and details on the history of the Ghost Mansion, also called “Casa Rossa” (“Red House”) and its owner and on the dramatic events that took place there, can be found at: http://www.urbanghostsmedia.com/2013/05/abandoned-ghost-mansion-urban-exploration-villa-de-vecchi-italy/
Despite being considered by some the most beautiful villa in the Valsassina, the high costs needed to repair it make now any restoration impossible, both for private owners and local bodies.
Huw to reach Cortenova
Along the provincial road SP 62 from south to north, from Ballabio, at the beginning of the Valsassina, you pass by Cremeno, Barzio, Introbio, Primaluna and then reach Cortenova, a village of around 1,300 inhabitants in the province of Lecco in Lombardy situated on the left bank of the creek Pioverna, on the slppes of the Grigna in the heart Valsassina valley.