If we ask to young people from Lake Como Italy for which reason is the Cortesella area known, they wouldn’t probably be able to answer. Nevertheless, we only were in the ‘30s when the district was about to restore the rough city zone from an activity always repressed as well as demanded.
For sure, the hidden secrets of the old town walls concerning a spicy and naughty past can at first surprise the reader because of the good reputation of Como. Anything new instead to Cristina Fontana, guide and researcher who wrote about the evolution of the prostitution phenomenon in her book ‘Como a luci rosse’: a real historical research from Roman age to nowadays.
The thing we can understand from Cristina’s book is that even though the prostitution centre has often changed due to the administration hostility, prostitutes didn’t stop practicing their (il)legal profession: when the two Plinii were ruling, there was a building for public prostitution, then in the Middle Age the public baths close to San Fedele’s church became the pleasure place until the construction of real brothels around 1400. The old Como brothels, three for the record, were all placed in the city centre near the Cathedral and obviously attracted customers looking for company, even from Swiss.
The situation caused the malaise of respectable citizens who were daily assisting these scenes to the point that authorities claimed the possible relocation of the brothels in the suburbs.