Besano (I)

Uncertain is the origin of the name of the town Besano. Some think that it derives from the fact that in ancient times a popular fair was held twice a year in the resort so the town would have been named "Bis-in-anno” (twice a year). Some historians think that it derives from the supposed legendary Roman leader Bessus, whose tomb was discoverd on the hill of San Martino. In reality it is just a speculation. Besano might have originated from Celtic-Ligurian root Bes with the meaning of wooded hill.
The San Martino hill overlooking the town originally was probably a Celtic fortification that became “Castrum” (a militar fortified settlement) after the Roman occupation to defend the transit routes connecting to Lake Ceresio. Between the 15th and the 17th century the road passing by Besano that led to Porto (as it was then called Porto Ceresio) was an obligatory passage for merchants who travelled between the Duchy of Milan and Switzerland. There were many ambushes by stragglers and mercenaries of the opposing factions, so it certainly was not an easy life for the inhabitants of Besano; in fact, according to the death records of those times we know of many people who perished “shot by an arquebus”. On the hilltop stands a Romanesque-style Church dedicated to Our Lady, where you can admire paintings of the 17th century and a Madonna with Baby Jesus which is traced back to the 15th century; unknown is the painter, but it is of extroardinary artistic value. The current structure of the building is an 18th century makeover, the original building also housed a monastery registered in the Cadastre Teresiano but of which no trace remains. In a higher position in relation to the church, where there were perhaps the ancient fortifications, there is a cippus with a statue of the Madonna. Along the road that from the Church square and the Town Hall leads to the top of San Martino Hill are placed to the admiration of the visitors the 14 Chapels of the Stations of the Cross rebuilt and refeshed in the year 1988-89 by the painter Franco Vasconi.
Behind the village rises the Massive Orsa-Pravello covered with woods that,according to the season, is covered with cyclamen, primeroses, violets and daffodils and gladdened by streams that often create nice waterfalls.
In addition to the ascent to the San Martino Hill, a dense network of trails that intersect the old military road climbing up to the Novella, gives you the opportunity of doing many escursions. You can reach the town of Porto Ceresio walking through the shaded streets of the Novella and the Novellina passing through the locality of “La Pioda”.