The Cantu Web Site

THE CANTU WEB SITE / History of Cantu, Italy

Cantu, Italy

The old name of Canturio, which became Cantu in the fifteenth century, takes its origin from the name of the Lombard people of the Canturigi, which is the origin of the Gaelic name "Galliano", the first settlement in the territory around present day Cantu.

The city of Cantu first appeared in history in the eleventh century when Ariberto da Intimiano, the Archbishop of Milan, rebuilt the Galliano Basicilica in 1007, which was originally built on the site of an ancient pagan temple.

From 1118 to 1128 Cantu took part with Milan in the war against Como, losing in 1124 but coming out victorious in 1127. Many years later the city fought with great strength against Frederick the Redbeard, defeating the invader in 1160.

Fortified with 100 towers in 1324, it remained independent until 1334 when the Visconti occupied the regions around Como. Involved in the fight between the Guelfi and the Ghibellini it was subdued by the forces of Francesco Sforza. Cantu was ruled for about 30 years by this powerful Milanese family, until it was surrendered to the faithful Pietrasantas who built a castle of which remains only the bell tower, that was eventually completed by Pellegrino Tibaldi.

Today, Cantu is renowned as a center of artisans. Around the year 1000, it became known as a center for expert iron works. More recently, it has cultivated a tradition of expert furniture making. With over 700 "botteghe" or small craftsmen shops, its furniture is revered as hand-made art, rather than mass-produced utilitarian items. Cantu is also known throughout the world for its production of fine lace, a tradition began by the Benedictine nuns in 1600.

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