CROSTA OF LAKE COMO
The Crostas are certainly one of the oldest, widely spread and long lived families amongst those of Northern Lario History ( Lake Como ).
The Crostas origin though, is surrounded by legend; one can only make assumptions on their origin and on the identity of the first member.
A recent genetic investigaton indicates the family origin from North of Europe, more exactely from a a Celtic clan.
The first trace of the family that we are aware of goes back to the 12 th century: Ugone Crosta, “miles” ( a soldier) in Milan in 1159 A.D. ( Giulini – city and countryside of Milan in the early centuries – 1855 A.D.); as like a certain Amizio Crosta as a testimony and a Petratius Crosta in 1212, witness again ( records from the Milan Municipal Office – Manaresi 1919).
A recent genetic study on the Y chomosome, the one that passes by male line, shows the genetic membership of our Family to a specific group, widespread in Switzerland. It seems that our most ancient ancestors, about 2000 years before Christ, were of Indo European origins. They were Celts that arrived in Germany. A theory wants them emigrating to Sacndinavia and from here to the northern British Isles. A small group mooved south, reacing Switzerland and the north of Italy and originating the Crosta family from Lake Como. Comparing the result of this genetic test with others of a world genetic bank, we discovered that the highest part of our “genetic relations” are found in Switzerland, Germany, Northern England, Ireland, Scotland and Norvay, or with people whom origins may be traced to those land.
We know, from official sources, that the Crostas have always been landowners in that part of the Lake Como which belonged to the three parishes in Northern Lario : Dongo, Sorico and Gravedona.
The original nucleus of the Family was present already ion the 14 th century in a small village named Vergosio, just over Gravedona,
From this principal unit, known as Crosta di Vergosio, several branches originated, especially the one that moved to Cassia (Cassera) and that lately took the name of Crosta di Cassia.
Other important family units were the Crosta di Vanzonco e the Crosta di Morbio.
From the Crosta family, during the centuries, other families originated. They started while adding a second last name to the surname Crosta, and then, as time went by, they lost ths Crosta surname and only used the second one, while creating completely new families. Among those we can remember Peloni, Melli, Gobbi, Caudi and Foiani.
All this information proved the antiquity of the surname, so that, just in itself, it already indicated a notable social status and to which important documents are added that certify social historic revelations.
In the baptismal archives of the Stazzona Parish which go back to 1550 A.D., the appellative “Ser” e “Magister” are often recorded and which are attributed titles to some Crosta family heads.
There is also the presence of a few “famulus” (servants) in the principal nucleus families ( State of the Inhabitants from 1600 A.D.).
By the middle of 500 A.D. some branches belonging to the family had reached a certain economical affluence.
It is in this period that a document, from the State Milan Archives was obtained with two coats of arms, evidently similar but used as collateral branches and belonging to the Crosta family (listed “Familae et armae” 1995 – ASM).
In the following centuries some family branches moved away from the Northern part of Lake Como ; some went to Valtellina, others to Milan while others stayed and settled both in Stazzona and other nearby towns. A few of them also went abroad ( England , Germany , Switzerland ).
The first ancestor that we know is Ser Zoya (Giovanni) Crosta, who was born in the second half of the 1300, and his descent is entirely documented till our days. We are his direct descendants and among our ancestors, to prove an important social state and a style of life “ more nobilium”, we can number important members of the community. Since 1300 they were city councilmen, lord mayors, public notaries, doctors and always Land lords.
The ancient Nobility is certified from several documents and the titles given to our ancestors are: Messer, Magister, Dominus, Noble, Lords of Morbio and Cassera, Barons, Nobles of Moncalvo
The Crosta family coat of arms in our possession is painted on the genealogical tree in various versions. One from 1768, another from 1823 and one from 1903 and is published in the “Blasonario Generale Italiano”.
A “Cathalogus animae” from 1595 compiled by the parish priest of that time gives the name of some ancestors and shows two, very similar coat of arms: one branching from Cassia and Vergosio, still in use, and the other branching from Vanzonico.
The Crosta Arm in the ancient version appears on the 400 A.D. Cremosano coat of arms book, kept in the State Milan Archives
There is also in these archives a drawing of the coat of arms provided by an Architect in 1768 and signed by a Notary. This document makes reference to Crosta and indicating them with noble titles.
In addition, there is a 800 A.D. drawing of the coat of arms, which is in water colour and ink, that goes back to the source of origin “Casata in Milan – from very old books belonging to the Bianchi brothers – Santa Margherita – al N.1066”.
The Guelfi Camajani Heraldic Studio has provided a copy of the Crosta coat of arms, which is identical to the one in our possession, which came from the Vallardi Heraldic Archives (Book B. 593).
The other coat of arms, not used anymore, is also reproduced on a 600 A.D. tapestry owned from a descendant from the roman branch and on the base of a "reliquiario" belonging to the Stazzona church.
From official documents referring to the family, the titles of Ser, Messer, Magister, Don and Domino are often found.
The wedding in 1551 of the Ancestor Domenico to the noble woman Caterina from the Curti Pettarda family from Gravedona, mayors of the three fiscal parishes of Northern Lario, saw, for the first time, the permission of the descendants to join the two surnames together.
On a document in 1768, and evidently issued to officially recognize nobility, the surnames Crosta Curti di Gravedona e Moncalvo are clearly indicated and it mentions a baronial title granted by Pope Leone X to the ancestor Domenico; as like the preacher of Moncalvo, who was granted one in 1657 by Duke Charles II from Monferrato as ancestor Giovanni ( Jhoannes) Crosta – ( Moncalvo- brief historical mentionings – by Giovanni Minoglio).
Ancestry weddings with both women and men from noble families in the area have evidenced frequent alliances among families of the same rank since 1400 A.D.
Aristocratic surnames, such as: Rezzonico della Torre, Castelli di Morbio, Malacrida, Curti Pettarda di Gravedona, Rumi, Ferrari di Surico, Bassi di Mandello, Carizzoni da Somana and others belong to our ancestors.
The families artistic patronage and the donations are other elements that prove the high social status; take for example the Vergosio Oratory where there are two affreschi commissioned in 1531 by our ancestors, Messer Domenico and Bernardino Crosta, in father Gottardo's honour, and another painting, having been ordered in 1557 by Magister Pietro Crosta ( The History of the town of Stazzona – Rita Pellegrini).
The Alborescia Chapel (Consiglio di Rumo Town) too, which has been owned by the Crosta family since 1600 A.D. One thinks of the silver reliquary showing the family coat of arms, donated in 1700 to the Stazzona church, or, of the construction of the “pronao” ( porch) at the church of San Giuliano , donated in 1851 by Giovanni Crosta to the Stazzona Community.
A recent pubblication from Banca Popolare di Lecco presents an article/study on Stefano da Vergosio, painter of 1400 related with the Crosta and author of the two frescos previously mentioned, and refers to our family as the Lords of the place.
Use of the surnames Crosta Curti and of the di Moncalvo predicate.
As it is easy to notice from several documents, after the wedding of ancestors Domenico with Caterina Curti Pettarda, the last name Curti has been added in many situations, as well as the di Moncalvo predicate, never turned into a surname, but clearly used in those situations in which it was important to confirm the social importance of a member of the Crosta family. The Nobility of Moncalvo was given to ancestor Johannes from the Duke Carlo the second of Monferrato. It is told that Johannes Crosta took part in a battle with the Spanish against the French, for the Duke, to take back the power on the Moncalvo village, and that after the battle, for his great behaving, he was titled noble of Moncalvo. In fact, since the second half of the 1600, several of our ancestors and descendant of Johannes, are indicated with the last name Crosta di Moncalvo. Since then, a branch of the Crosta has been using the title.The current representatives of the Family are listed in the “annuario della Nobilità Italiana” and in the “Elenco dei Titolati Italiani”.
The erudition level of members of the family, starting with Gian Antonio, Notary in 1450 A.D.
Messer Guglielmo Crosta di Zoya, our direct ancestor, was city councilman in 1378 and 1394, as well as his son Pietro in 1440, amd he was also Mayor of Stazzona in 1442. Ser Ambrogio Crosta was member of the council between 1441 and 1475.
Lorenzo, land surveyor in 1610, qualifying at Pavia University, and the various graduates, Doctors, Engineers and Architects or surveying experts has denoted familiar attention to culture as a social service to the community since the end of the 1700 A.D.
In 1735 Domenico Crosta was the Rector of San Giuliano School in Palermo .
At the beginning of 1800 Giacomo's four children were, respectively:
Lorenzo Crosta Curti, Royal Imperial District Commissioner – His son Francesco Crosta Curti and his Grand son, Lorenzo, Attorney and Magistrate.
Giuliano, Parish Priest.
Domenico, Engineer and Architect with two children who followed in his footsteps and one who graduated in medicine.
Costantino, land surveyor expert and Engineer.
There are numerous Crostas who have chosen the ecclesiastical life: Giuliano, Carlo, Costantino and the theologian and philosopher Clino Crosta, Secretary and Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop's family, as well as Dogmatic reader at the Theological Seminary in Como, ordained Canon in the Presbyterian order, a very reverential and honoured Canon at the Como Cathedral and “prosonidale” judge to the Ecclesiastical Court.
Many Crostas have left written testimonies and published their works in books: Don Clino Crosta, Noble Woman Maddalena Crosta Albini Riccioli, Lorenzo Crosta, Don Costantino Crosta and others.
Let's not forget however, that our family comes from an area where Nobility was considered more of an advantage to social activation rather than to pomp and riches. In the North area of Lake Como , the Noble families were, above all, those who had had important men within the community; notaries, Mayors, Captains and Doctors
Our nobility has never been linked to possessions, land estates or wealth. Our ancestors and, hopefully us too, have always been aware of this privileged status, and have given their knowledge, learning and professionalism to others, humbly and willing and this is the teaching that has been handed down through centuries of family history.
Andrea, Flavio and Valerio