The Three Nautical Graces

3 graces - piroscafi

The Three Nautical Graces – Milano (top) Patria (left and Concordia (right)

A trip on Lake Como in any of Como’s three nautical graces will excite the senses and imagination. The combination of setting, fine weather and illimitable style, – with these elements in perfect alignment – will imprint a lifetime memory of charm and beauty.

The setting speaks for itself through the millions of images of lake and mountain through its varied moods and seasons. The weather is as ever in the hands of the fickle Gods but the style of these steamers is at its secular best. The jut of their vertical bows and low-slung lines convey the spirit of their age – fluidity and ease, poise and arrogance, luxury and decadence.

A pair of twins and an elder sister.

milano 1

Milano

Milano is the elder sister. She entered service as a lake steamer in 1904 but her engines were converted to diesel as early as 1925 with the unfortunate effect at the time of causing her to tremor. All lake transport was a target for wartime bombing by the allies so Milano laid up hidden under camouflage for a couple of years in the gap between Isola Comacina and Ossuccio. The grand old lady kept running to the Tavernola shipyards for updates and revisions in the 50s and 60s with a complete overhaul in 1989 with a return to regular service from 1991. She has had so many makeovers and face-lifts over the years that little of her original structure remains apart from her lines and the way she lies in the water. She is still in regular service on the Navigazione Laghi’s summer schedule as well as being available for private hire. Follow link for details.

Patria

Patria 1

Patria

Patria and Concordia are twins and both were launched in 1926. Wartime was hard on these boats and Patria once came under allied fire causing her to run aground at Gravedona. She was originally called ‘Savoia’ but changed her name on the fall of the fascist regime. The royal house of Savoy had been held responsible for supporting Mussolini and was too closely associated with the fascist regime. ‘Concordia’ on the other hand had the even less imaginative name of ’28 Ottobre’ being the date of Mussolini’s so-called March on Rome. Alongside the multitude of reasons for celebrating the demise of the dictatorial regime, we can also count the renaming of this glorious boat.

patria 4

Patria before her renovation

Patria was last in service in 1990. She was saved from demolition and purchased by the Province of Como, restored and re-opened for the occasional evening cruise and visits from July 2013. Currently she lies docked on the Villa Olmo pier and seems either rarely open or in action in spite of her steam engines having been fully restored.  Her ownership may well pass in to the hands of Navigazione Laghi who hopefully will be better able to exploit her potential.

 Concordia

concordia

Concordia before her name change

Concordia is undoubtedly the pride of the Lake Como fleet. She originally entered service alongside her twin sister ‘Patria’ in 1926 under her previous shameful name of ’28 Ottobre’. She has been entirely renovated inside and out with full working steam engine and paddles.

concordia collage 1

Three aspects of Concordia

The interior has been renovated in the original late ‘Liberty’ style. Thanks to the new replacement boilers, Concordia will under full steam be able to maintain the modern day schedules when she re-enters normal service. She will also be available for private hire. Contact Navigazione Laghi for further information. Her renovation was planned to be completed in time for Milano Expo 2015 but let’s just be grateful that the delay caused by supplier issues and official approvals was no longer than a year. Look out for the plume of smoke from her funnel as her bow cuts through the water when she officially starts service later this month.

concordia interior with engine

Interior of Concordia with steam pistons bottom right.

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About comocompanion

I am an Englishman in Como, Northern Italy - definitely both a Euro and Italophile with an interest in modern history, walks in the hills and mountains, and food and wine. These antidotes to angst are supported by interests in sustainability, the potential of collaborative economies and I suppose a degree of atheistic faith in something I still cannot be bothered to define.
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