The name comes from the term protolatino Morcote MORA indicating a stony and CAPUT or head that is about to end. MORAE CAPUT means therefore the end of the rock, or the tip of the peninsula. In a document dated 926 appears for the first time, the designation for the inhabitant of Morcote: HABITATOR IN MURCAU. During the period of greatest splendour of the ancient village of Morcò, the settlement had the shape of an amphitheatre and stretched from Vico Morcote to Porto Ceresio, named Porto Morcote. Wanting to give faith to the Papal Chronicles, the family of the martyr Anicetus, Pope from 157 to 168, would be born in Vico Morcote. It is therefore not excluded that the story of Morcote may be older. Until 1847, when he proceeded to the construction of the dam of Melide, Morcote was a flourishing commercial site and there were intense exchanges of goods, being also more Puerto del Ceresio. Large barges and rafts were shuttling between Porto Morcote Morcote and to carry passengers and freight, being made of the quickest route to reach Varese, Como and Milan.
In 1422 the morcotesi obtained by the Dukes of Milan statutes exceptional privileges and coat of arms. For the village in 2000, this meant autonomy and therefore may proclaim the Republic to administer the public good. A small Parliament elects the Mayor, two consuls, twelve Judges and captain. The morcotesi also had its own jurisprudence and the executioner ran the death sentences near the chapel of the executioner, at the exit of the village in the direction of Figino. In addition to fishing rights in the Gulf of Porto Morcote, in Poiana at Brusino until Forca di San Martino at paradise, the privileges conferred rights market, such as the sale of fish in Milan and the exemption from tolls.
For these rights the morcotesi poured 100 florins to the Visconti, the Sforza, following the Rusca, Sanseverino, Spaniards, French, Austrians, and finally, in the three centuries of subjection, Captain Regent (a stub.). Vico Morcote and Arbostora were summer residence areas favoured by famiglie nobili patrizie. Different regions, such as the surroundings of San Giorgio, Finate, Priest, Porto and Carabietta, knew the colonization during this prosperous period. Only the plague broke out in 1432, dealt a serious blow to the splendor of this era: la forza del morbo was such that the relatives of seven families will survive. The years following the plague, coincided with the beginning of the story of the most famous morcotesi and their families. Engineers, architects, painters, sculptors, Plasterers, cesellatori, doctors, scientists, writers and artisans contributed to the creation of Western culture in many European countries.
In 1984 the Almanac of the Swiss Association for genealogical research is cited in a list, prepared by Sylvia Palombo-Moats, in which appear the names of more than one hundred members of families morcotesi worthy of note. In 1623 the famous architect Giuseppe Fossati founded the school of Morcotesi, i.e. the Comacine School of craftsmen, which was to prepare the latter emigration and prospective and long years of training the wanderer. Especially schoolchildren could join up at the age of 10 years while the less gifted were admitted to courses only 12 years. The training lasted 3 years.
Next the same ditches, serving as teachers the painter Pierto Isella (Schönbrunn Palace), Hunting and engineers, the painter Maspoli Paleari, sculptor Tiravanti and many others over the centuries.
The priest in charge was often the Chair of drawing teacher, he taught Italian and allowed the most gifted to learn Latin as a second language. On completion of the training, the boys 14 years old or olds followed their countrymen abroad, in order to find adequate employment as painter, Restorer, plasterer and sculptor. The inauguration, in 1902 the cantonal School of design established in Morcote, led to the closure of the school Was Morcotesi.
Excerpted from “Morcote La perla del Ceresio” di Adriano Antonini – Carlo Meazza, edizione Macchione.