The Lake Como paddle steamer Concordia is pictured entering Como astern in early July 2002. Built in 1927 by Odero of Genoa and originally named XXVIII Ottobre to commemorate the date of Mussolini’s march on Rome, Concordia is one of only two excursion paddlers on the lake and the only one currently operational, her sister, Patria, having been out of service for many years awaiting a decision on her future. A third former paddler, Milano, survives in regular service as a propeller driven vessel having lost her paddles but not her sponsons in the 1920s.
A beautiful day on a charming steamer. Concordia is 54m long, 12m in the beam and has been little used on public excursions in recent years. However, 2002 has been quite a good summer for her with regular sailings offered on most Thursdays and some Sundays during the peak weeks.
The traditional bridge with two engine room telegraphs connected by a rod so that they both always issue exactly the same instructions to the engineer. This cannot always be said to be the case with telegraphs on bridge wings connected by wires if the wires have become slack allowing the one telegraph to drag the other behind it one order out! Concordia’s telegraphs are also liberal with their instructions, the captain having the wide choice of adagio (slow) and normale (full) for ahead and astern together with fermo (stop).
The engine is triple expansion with flexible couplings on the main crankshaft similar to those fitted on Kingswear Castle and the boiler, which was new in 1977, is oil fired.
Rope lassoing on one of the many tiny piers around the lake.
The main saloon is well appointed with leather upholstery but it was little used on the day I sailed on the ship with most passengers preferring to have lunch and snacks in the deck saloon above.
Although in some ways similar to the Swiss paddlers, Concordia has a different feel about her and there is a definitely Italian atmosphere aboard. If you can time a visit to Como to coincide with one of her summer sailings, I would very much recommend a trip. Watching the stunning mountain scenery glide by with a glass of wine in one hand, a swirl of spaghetti alla carbonara on a fork in the other and the comforting flap, flap, flap of the paddle beat in the background must be counted as one of life’s greatest and most civilised pleasures!
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.