The Alps of northwestern Italy form a wall along the borders of Austria, Switzerland and France that link with the Apennines above the Ligurian Sea in a great arc over the upper basin of the Po. Within the elongated semicircle lies a vast stretch of the Panura Padana, whose fertile fields support a major share of Italy's agriculture and whose ample water powers the industry centered in Turin and Milan.
The province of Lombardy, together with the provinces of Valle D'Aosta, Piedmont, and Liguria constitute the region of Italy know the "the Northwest". Milan, at the upper end of the plains, became a commercial centre under the Romans, who opened trade routes along the rivers and lakes and over alpine passes into Switzerland and France. After serving as capital of Western Europe, Milan fell to Barbarian invaders, among whom the Longobards or Lombards left the region with an name and a basis for cohesion under the Lombard League. Milan re-emerged as Italy's main city under the Visconti and Sforza families between the 14th and 16th centuries. Then came foreign domination, including a period as capital of the kingdom of Italy under Napoleon, before battles for independence from Austria culminated in Lombardy's emergence in a unified Italy. Today Milan, the capital of the province is one of Italy's most populous and industrialized regions and remains the country's capital of industry, finance, fashion and wine marketing.
Panoramic view of Taino and southern end of Lago Maggiore
The town of Taino, some 28 kms distant from Varese lies to the south east of the shores of Lago Maggiore, some 10 kms inland, at an elevation of 944 feet above sea level. The name Taino may derive from the Celtic Ta (good) and Vyn (wine), that is earth of the good wine, or from the name of the Roman god Taginus. Resident populations go back to the neolithic age, including Gaulish and finally Roman. In the Middle Ages it was part of the Pieve di Angera and the property of the Archepiscopal Diocese of Milan. In XVI the century, after a long diatribe with the Milan curia, it became a feudal holding of the noble Serbelloni family, who had maintained it over the years until the end of feudalism.
Travelling on the inland road from Angera to Taino, you pass the fountain next to the Taino cemetery at the beginning of the climb that leads up to the town. If you stop for some well-deserved water, you will also be surprised to find yourself bending over a Roman sarcophagus, half-buried in the road. On reaching the town itself, you enter the courtyard of the Church of Santo Stefano whose Romanesque bell tower is, alas, practically unrecognizable. The church buildings date from the XVI century. From the church courtyard, you can get a truly wonderful view of the Rocca [Castle] of Angera which authoritatively 'guards' the valley as well as the south end of Lago Maggiore. In 1998, the population was just under 3,000 inhabitants.
The Church of San Stefano were Rosa was baptized and she and John were married,
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