On both shores of Lake Como
“Legend is the flower of history, the typical and melodious expression with which the soul of the races expresses itself and sings its eternal poetry (…) herborizing along the banks of Lake Como some legendary flowers still lasting there fresh and moist in the memory of the old villagers (…)”.
Among the “thousand criminal and scandalous passionate stories” that in the past alternated on the lake, there are “gentle, ferocious, romantic, grotesque myths”, custodians of an older memory that tells of towers, castles, enchanted waters, rocky mountains, strengths and weaknesses of bizarre characters, …
Scenarios and events that have fuelled popular imagination and allowed the “spontaneous plant of local traditions” to flourish.
In the villages of Lake Como, where an “idle and mocking” spirit reigned, among the inhabitants it was a custom to exchange names for ridiculous or singular characteristics.
The theatre of history is made up of two villages overlooking the lake that almost face each other on the western and eastern shores. The protagonists are the men of Lenno called (later) Sillocks and the women of Lezzeno called (later) Witches.
It is said that one day a “swarm” of women from Lezzeno landed in Lenno in search of a husband, with the intention of making the boys of Lenno, who were renowned for being “beautiful, flowery and vigorous”, fall in love with them. However, the unexpected happened: the boys refused them because the women were “as ugly as sin”.
Returning to Lezzeno “empty-handed”, the women decided to seek the help of witches to discover the magical arts and succeed in their intent. After stealing the secrets, they set off again for Lenno and over time their “new beauty” conquered the boys, slowly seducing them, almost consuming them and making them thin, dry and haggard, just like Sillocks.
The jovial poet Antonio Maria Stampa wrote as follows:
Those destroyed limbs
will never get fat
As long as there will be witches
and ugly women in Lezzeno.
“Leggende e tradizioni lariane” (Legends and traditions of Lake Como) of “Il Secolo XX – Rivista Popolare Illustrata” (1923)