Lake Como is a gorgeous blue watery ribbon carved between the adjacent mountains, for a length of 46km, during the last ice age by powerful glaciers. It has an average depth of 154m but at its deepest dives to 410m. It branches into two legs at a junction between the attractive villages of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio on opposing lakeshores. At the end of the western limb of the lake is the attractive city of Como, which is the starting point of this tour. The area was no secret to the Romans who once built villas along its length, and many of the wealthy came to retire by the lake. Many of these villas have admirable gardens which benefit from the mild climate induced by the stabilising presence of 22.5km³ of lake water and are able to include tropical as well as temperate plants. With the advent of resort type tourism from Victorian times, hotels were built for wealthy European and American tourists who promenaded around the lake shore and into the surrounding hills. You too can discover the attractions and beauty of the area with the selection of walks, ferry crossings and variety of hotel locations.
Moderate. Most of the trails are well maintained. Some of these walks have shorter versions, which include only the sections on easy, mostly paved paths, clearly visible and easy to follow. Longer options are available for some of the walks (e.g. days 2, 4, 5 and 6), with some steeper climbs and descents on rougher surfaces. Fitness: Clients should have a reasonable level of fitness and should be able to walk for up to 4½ hours during a day for easier options and longer for moderate grade walks. Snow may be encountered especially early in the season and up to late June at the highest levels.
Make your own way to Como. Visit the very interesting historic town centre which includes palaces, the Duomo, the Basilica of Sant'Abbondio and beautiful public gardens. Maybe stroll along the lake to soak up the tranquil old world atmosphere.
You may wish to book an extra night in Como. There are many villas and estates to visit. Go and see Villa Olmo and Villa D’Este as well. Travelling by boat to some other lake side villages in this southern part of the lake is also a worthwhile experience.
Accommodation: Two nights are spent in a centrally located 3 star hotel, only a short distance from the train station.
Take the Funicular up to the village of Brunate and begin a wonderful panoramic walk along a well kept path along the ridge, high above Lake Como, with views on both sides. Have a panoramic coffee break in Brunate, and there are also many great viewpoint spots for a good picnic, especially if you choose to walk to the summit of Monte Boleto (1238m). At the ruins of a medieval castle descend towards the lake again and continue down to the pretty village of Torno and then take the boat back to Como.
The first part of the day is dedicated to the old town of Como, renowned for its Romanesque churches, its wonderful Duomo, medieval town walls and frescoed churches. It is also known for its impressive villas, its fine ‘fin-de-siècle’ hotels and its rationalist and even fascist architecture along the lake shore. Stroll through the alleys and along the lake to get the real feel of the city. From Como you travel, taking your luggage with you, by boat just after lunch to Menaggio, admiring all the charming villages from the lake. In Menaggio your taxi meets you and takes you up to the mountain village of Breglia, along a panoramic road. After settling into the hotel, take a first stroll to Madonna di Breglia, a ‘church with a view’, and then on to San Domenico, a shrine with an even better one! Return to your hotel to relax on the terrace and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Distance today varies due to the options taken.
Accommodation: In this small hamlet, you stay for two nights in a comfortable 2-star hotel high above the lake, in the mountains above Menaggio.
Directly from your hotel in Breglia you take a circular walk which brings you up to a mountain hut above Menaggio. The walk is relatively easy, but nonetheless offers unforgettable views of the lake! First you walk through the old part of the village, then beautiful forests and of course you come across a number of spectacular viewpoints over Lake Como. A last steep section brings you up to the mountain hut where it is possible to have lunch. A short walk brings you to the saddle of 'Pizza Coppa' from where you can admire the whole region, from Lake Como to Lake Lugano (Switzerland). An optional detour takes you to the top of Monte Grona (1736m), but this is steep, scrambly and above the general grading level of this tour. Taking a gradually descending path, with still spectacular views on Lake Como and the surrounding mountains, you return to Breglia.
A car takes you down to Menaggio, from where you take the boat (taking your luggage with you) to the charming village of Varenna, deemed ‘Italy’s most romantic village’, and then up to your hotel, but you will need to be prepared to start the walk when you arrive, or spend a while in the village. Varenna has inspiring views of the lake and the distant mountains and brightly painted houses adorned with flower-filled balconies, a bustling waterfront and a maze of meandering cobble-stoned streets. It is a delightful place to explore. Take a walk on one of the historical pathways of the area, the so-called ‘Sentiero del Viandante’, which brings you to the curious ‘Fiumelatte’, Italy’s shortest river. This was researched by Leonardo de Vinci. Continue if you wish on steeper paths to Lierna, a quiet town on the lake shore, before returning by train to Varenna. Or perhaps you’ll just want to relax and eat in a trattoria somewhere in the village.
Accommodation: Your last three nights are spent in a very good 3 star hotel
Today you walk the northern stretch of the ‘Sentiero del Viandante’. There are several options: you can either walk a shorter or longer stretch. From Varenna you walk to Bellano, which has an optional short gorge section (admission fee), from there on to Dervio which has a small medieval quarter. From here you can take a train back to Varenna, or take a short there and back walk further on along the lake to the romantic medieval village of Corenno Plinio, sitting on Lake Como with its castle and tiny harbour. Views over the water from this path are marvellous and you move through a pretty terraced landscape. Those who wish can combine the walk with a visit by train and bus to the abbey of Piona, one of the most intriguing places by Lake Como. This can be increased by visiting the abbey or reduced by returning to Varenna from Bellano by train or ferry.
Today you can visit the whole central section of the Lago di Como by boat. Buying a ferry pass for about 15E gives you all day access. According to your interests there are several spots where you just ‘must’ go such as the splendid Villa Carlotta, with its beautiful gardens overlooking the lake, charming Menaggio and of course Bellagio, 'The Pearl of the Lake', situated on Punta Spartivento, where the two arms of Lake Como meet. Here you can take an incredibly scenic walk through delightful countryside and to the charming fishing village of Pescallo and up to the scenic hamlet of Visgnola. Down at the lake you walk back along the wonderful gardens of Villa Melzi. Then there is time to explore any number of the local villages by boat, or relax with a drink somewhere on the lake shore, before returning to the hotel.
Depart Varenna after breakfast.
We really enjoyed our Lake Como Rambling trip. Accommodation and food were excellent and maps and directions for walks were very helpful. It was great being offered a couple of options for walks on most days and Lake Como was such a beautiful destination you could have enjoyed it just sitting by the lake eating gelato or drinking coffee.
P. Caster, Winston Hills, NSW, Australia
The walking exceeded our expectations. Going at our own pace meant we could stop and admire whatever and whenever we wanted. The walks were described in detail, we never got lost; and it also pointed out things of special interest to look out for. The choice of locations was the best, avoiding Bellano and using Verenna as a base was excellent. The train goes direct from Veranna to Milan, with only 2 stops, 8 Euro F class!
P. Van de Graaf, Hamilton, QLD, Australia
Per Person, Twin Share