Hiking Lake Como: The Sentiero del Viandante

Do you have a go-to hike? A place to easily escape to, not just because of its proximity, but also due to the relationship you have formed with it.

There’s something comforting in following a path that you know so well so that you’re not spending your time having to navigate it, but instead you can wander off into your thoughts and watch the route change with the seasons.

Sweeping views over Lake como and Bellagio

I was introduced to the ‘Sentiero del Viandante’ or ‘Wayfarers Trail’ by a friend of mine, an ancient Roman path that follows the eastern coast of lake Como for around 45 km from the church of St Martin in Abbadia Lariana and ends up at the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Val Pozzo in Piantedo. The path once connected Milan to Switzerland and meanders through vineyards and olive groves, over streams and through woods and is marked by little orange signs along the way.

The route is broken down into stages typically from Abbadia Lariana to Lierna; Lierna to Varenna; Varenna to Dervio and Dervio to Colico, with a train running between the villages. Parts of the route are more difficult than others and you definitely require comfortable clothing and hiking shoes, as well as plenty of water.

Lierna

Although I haven’t followed the whole path, I have returned countless times to one part of the route, from Bellano to Varenna, sometimes bringing friends along with me or going alone. The path offers sweeping views over the lake and is mostly shaded, with shrines dotted along the route. It is situated a little way up the hills but close enough to the lake that you are always aware of it.

In the summer the shady path is cooler and away from the summer crowds that congregate in the towns by the lakeside.

I usually bring my notepad and sketchbook and take my time along the route, there’s a stream with a little bridge crossing it, which is the perfect place to stop for lunch, or cool your feet down on a warmer day. My favourite spot it a little further along the path, going off-route, to the church in Perledo, which offers an amazing view over Bellagio and the Lake.

View of Bellagio

What I love the most about this route is finding peace and tranquility for a couple of hours by the lake, which in spring and summer is not an easy feat, but once you’re ready you can join the buzz of locals and tourists in Varenna for a little dip in the lake and a gelato, or glass of wine as the sun goes down. I always feel like I’ve been on a mini holiday, even if it’s just an afternoon or day away from the city.

View from Varenna
Watching the sun set over the lake

If you’re also interested in walking along the Sentiero del Viandante, you may find the following link useful:

https://www.varennaturismo.com/en/portfolios/sentiero-viandante/

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