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Landslide of Porlezza

Between legend and history

Italia, Regione Lombardia, provincia di Como, Porlezza

Positioning

San Maurizio

COORDINATES
(CH 1903) E   731278 N   98744 H   285.0
(WGS 84) Long.   9.134 Lat.   46.027
GENERAL EVALUATION
DIFFICULTY T-T1
SCIENTIFIC INTEREST PRIMARY:
Gravitational phenomena and processes

SECONDARY:
Hydromorphologie
OTHER INTERESTS Historical, Architectural
Landscape
GEOSITE   GEOMORPHOLOGICAL - erosion

DESCRIPTION

At Porlezza, on the slopes of Mount Galbiga, there is an alluvial cone created by the accumulation of sedimentary deposits and ancient landslides. On one side of the cone, part of the deposit has been excavated in order to bring to light the Romanesque church of Saint Maurizio, buried in past centuries with only the bell tower standing alone out of the land mass. Gravitational events have occurred here several times and in similar ways, through torrential debris flows.

INSIGHT

The broad cone has been fed by multiple debris flow phenomena which have taken place over time. The area of detachment of material is located along the same torrential line of between 800 and 1000 metres above sea level, and several niches of separation are easily recognizable as they coalesce. Tradition has it that the church of Saint Maurizio was buried, along with the rest of the town of Porlezza, by a landslide in the fourteenth century. In fact, the debris flows which led to the burial of the church occurred in rapid succession, probably early in the seventeenth century, when the village stood in its present position.

CURIOSITIES

The landslide of Porlezza is at the centre of a local legend. This story tells, in a veiled manner, of the destiny of the church of Saint Maurizio, and of the ancient landslide which came to break it down. The story tells of how the small parish was once located on the shore of the lake, in the place where it was thought that ancient Porlezza had stood. Later, in the seventeenth century, a landslide occurred on the northwestern slopes of Mount Galbiga, destroying the entire district of the ancient village as well as its lake port. In this way the citizens were punished by Saint Maurizio, who presented himself in the clothes of a wayfarer to whom they had denied hospitality. The Saint saved only the bell tower of the church from the natural disaster as an admonition and a remembrance of both his anger and of a pious woman, the only one who had accepted him and lent him aid. In 1979, after a long period of excavation, restoration and rediscovery, the Romanesque structure was returned to the light.
scala temporale periodi geologici

HOW TO REACH THE SITE

From Como: Go along State Road Regina S.S. 340 until you arrive at Argegno, where you can go up to the junction at Intelvi Valley along S.P. 14. Then cross the entire valley and continue in the direction of Claino and Osteno/Porlezza. At this point, go along the eastern shore of Lake Lugano until you almost reach the town of Porlezza. From Switzerland: Go along the western lake shore and follow the signs to Porlezza.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR THE VISIT

In Porlezza, along provincial road 14 which connects to Osteno, a tourist sign indicates a road leading towards the church of San Maurizio.

project | contacts | links | partners
Programma di cooperazione transfrontaliera Italia - Svizzera 2007 - 2013 Progetto cofinanziato dal Fondo Europeo Sviluppo Regionale (FESR)
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