Who says that the holiday season finishes at the end of the summer? Menaggio is a beautiful holiday destination also during the autumn: the landscape is colored with lovely nuances; the temperatures are mild and induce you to discover the many trails around Menaggio.
The boats that calmly plough the waters connect the lake side villages and the gardens around the beautiful 17th century villas take on a magical look.
In the historical centre of Menaggio there are many interesting monuments which recall its importance throughout the ages. The narrow cobble stoned alleys lead up to the area called Castello, the medieval part of Menaggio. The historical itinerary through Menaggio will help you to discover its main sights. We recommend the amusing puzzle tour for families who wish to discover the town in a fun and active way.
From the village Croce you can hike through the woods to Monti di Nava and why not, gather some chestnuts.
In the restaurants you can try the special autumn dishes based on chestnuts, venison and mushrooms.
Thanks to its central position, its main car and passenger ferry links and bus connections, Menaggio is an ideal starting point to explore lake Como.
A week to discover the Lake
Monday: Menaggio and its villages
Menaggio consists in a centre and three villages, Croce, Loveno e Nobiallo. The circular walk of 3 hours called Menaggio and its Villages leads you to discover their historical and artistic aspects. You will follow the traces of the former railway, which from 1884 brought tourists from all over Europe to Lake Como, you will discover the First World War trenches on Monte Crocetta, the remains of the Menaggio Castle destroyed in 1523, the sun kissed Loveno, from the end of the eighteenth century a prestigious residential area with its beautiful villas such as Villa Mylius Vigoni. Finally you will visit Nobiallo, a typical fishing village stretched along the lake under the protective eye of the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Pace with its beautiful 17th century architecture.
From Menaggio we highly recommend the scenic bus ride to the mountain village Breglia 7 km (bus line C13. From Breglia you can walk to the Santuario della Madonna di Breglia (path starts next to the cemetery – 15 min) or to S. Domenico Superb views on the Centre Lake area.
Tuesday: discover Lenno and the Sacred Mountain of Ossuccio
You can reach the town Lenno by bus line C10. In the morning there is a nice market on the lake side. In the piazza XI Febbraio stand the parish church S Stefano with its interesting crypt and the splendid Romanesque Baptistery of S. Giovanni. Lenno lies around the beautiful bay called “Baia di Venere,” formed by the peninsula Lavedo where one of the most famous villas of the lake, the villa Balbianello stands. It was built in the late 1700s on order of Cardinal Durini. The villa, is open from 10.00 till 18.00; last entry to the gardens at 17.15 last guided visit of the inside of the villa at 16.30 (depending on the possible places).
From Lenno you can walk to the Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso (45 min one way) along the famous lane with the 14 chapels dedicated to the rosary, with life size statues out of terracotta of the 17th century, due to its artistic and historical importance it was declared Heritage of Humanity. Back by bus C10 or by boat to Menaggio.
Wednesday: discover Argegno and the cable car to Pigra
Take bus C10 to Argegno. Argegno is a small, picturesque town situated at the mouth of the Telo stream, at the beginning of the Intelvi Valley that connects Lake Como with Lake Lugano. The town is divided into two parts: the lake-side promenade and the historic centre. Along the first, there is a succession of cafés and restaurants where you can relax overlooking the lake. The second part is perched on a rocky spur and is characterized by narrow alleyways and stone houses. Around the public boat dock there is a small market on Monday morning. Between the two parts of the town lies the small central square “Piazza Roma” and an elegant small medieval bridge (XII century). From here, in about 40 minutes, you can walk up to the small 16th-century Church of St. Anna by following the track on the left side (south) of the Telo stream. At the end of the path, a short flight of steps leads to the grassy yard where the small Sanctuary stands, and from where you have a beautiful view of the lake.
The cable car station is located at the northern end of the town. The climb by cable car to Pigra, a small mountain village on a green plateau, affords splendid views of the lake and surrounding hills. Visit this charming village by following the signs “Scopri Pigra”. Until the end of October the cablecar follows following time table: From Monday to Friday from 6.30 until 19.00 – Saturday and Sunday from 9.00 until 17.00. From the first of November until the end of December from Monday to Friday from 6.30-12.30 and from 14.00 to 17.00 – Saturday and Sunday from 9.00 to 17.00. There is a run every 30 minutes.
Thursday: discover the Northern Lake Area
Catch the bus line C10 direction Colico from Menaggio from piazza Roma to Dongo. Get off the bus in Piazza Parracchini. On 27 April 1945 Mussolini and some of his ministers were brought here after being captured on the road between Musso and Dongo by the local partisans. These facts are remembered in the local museum in palazzo Manzi. dedicated to the end of the Second World War. The museum is open until the beginning of November from 10.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 18.00. There are also two outdoor infomation panels at Dongo describing Mussolini’s arrest and the execution of the RSI leaders. From Palazzo Manzi, built in 1824, walk along via del Mercato to piazza Rubini in order to enter the historical centre where you find the Romanesque church of S. Maria in Martinico. From here along l’Antica Strada Regina you reach Barbignano, one of the oldest parts of Dongo. Turn back to Palazzo Manzi and along via Roma and via Tre Pievi walk to the Franciscan Monastary of the Madonna delle Lacrime of the 16th century. About 50 m further, along via Bellesini, you reach the parish church of S. Stefano. The church is of ancient origins but rebuilt in the 18th century and adorned with frescoes by artists of European fame such as Carlo Scotti and Giulio Quaglio.
Behind the church a lovely lake side walk (1 h ). connecting Dongo with Gravedona starts with beautiful views of the northern lake area. At Gravedona visit the beautiful Romanesque church S. Maria del Tiglio, one of the most important Romanesque buildings of the province. Walk to the centre and follow the indications for “castello” the oldest part of Gravedona. Every first and third Wednesday there is a market in Piazza Trieste. On the other side of the main road walk up to the church of S. Maria delle Grazie and to the church of S. Gusmeo and S. Matteo. From here you have a nice view of the elegant Palazzo Gallio of 1572. From Gravedona take the bus line C10 back to Menaggio.
Friday: by car from Lario to Ceresio
This itinerary by car leads you from Lake Como to the italian part of Lake Lugano, among charming natural landscapes and ancient villages.
We leave Menaggio towards Grandola ed Uniti, to the typical hamlet of Cardano, where the 18th century Villa Bagatti Valsecchi stands, whose entrance is enclosed by artistic gate works.
Following the road SP8, we reach Codogna, where we find Villa Camozzi: the building looks like a traditional 18th.-century residnce and is currently the seat of the Ethnographic and Naturalistic Museum of the Sanagra Valley, which houses some historical and natural artefacts from the area. Info: tel. +39.034432115 – www.museovalsanagra.it . We keep on going on the same road to get to the medieval village Velzo and then to Naggio, a beautiful village with typical cobblestone streets. The road from Naggio to Gottro offers a nice view of the small Lake Piano. At Gottro you can have a short walk to the Church of San Giorgio (12th century), which has Romanesque origins but also keeps interesting Renaissance frescoes in its interior. Cross the village Carlazzo and reach the bridge, known as “Ponte del Saltone”, which hangs 136 meters above the Cuccio river, to reach Corrido. The churchyard of the church Saints Materno and Martino has a spectacular view of Porlezza plain and Menaggio valley.
Descend to Porlezza, a tourist resort on Lake Lugano, which is also called Ceresio. From 1885 to 1939 the village was the end of the Porlezza-Menaggio railway line and served the many international tourists who came from Lugano by steamboat. The old railway has been turned into a cycle and pedestrian path.
Print the itinerary
Saturday: discover Como
Take the bus line C10 from Menaggio to Como. Get off at the bus station in piazza Matteotti. Como’s centre, located inside the antique medieval walls, is rich in monuments and artworks. In the piazza del Duomo (cathedral) you find the Broletto, the antique town hall built in 1200 and the town’s bell tower. The Duomo was built between the end of 1300 and the mid 1700’s and is a fusion of different architectural styles. The façade statues are astonishing. Behind the Duomo is the ex Casa del Fascio masterpiece of the rationalist architect Giuseppe Terragni considered the symbol of modern architecture. Como also hosts real gems of the Romanesque period such as the church of S. Fedele. Near the lake stands the neoclassic Voltiano temple erected in 1927 for the centennial of the death of Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the battery, born in Como. Follow the itinerary through the Como’s historic center. We recommend the walk from Piazza Cavour to the gardens of Villa Olmo in order to admire the beautiful neoclassical villas on the lake shore. A ride with the funicular from Como to Brunate gives you an extraordinary view of the town. From Como it is possible to do a one hour boat trip around the first basin of the lake and admire the villas and noble palaces woven in the wonderful landscape. There is a boat every half an hour that leaves Como and touches Tavernola, Cernobbio, Moltrasio, and Torno. By purchasing a day pass you can complete the entire journey in about one hour, staying on board or hop off at the intermediate stops to visit the villages on this part of Lake Como. Back by bus or hydrofoil to Menaggio.
Sunday: discover Bellagio and Varenna
Take the ferry to Bellagio situated at the extreme tip of the promontory that divides the lake into two branches. At the tourist office you can ask for the leaflet with historical itinerary through the town. About 1 km south of the boat dock is villa Melzi built in 1808. The beautiful park that surrounds the villa is the first example of English style garden on Lake Como.
Take the ferry to Varenna, with its colourful houses dominated by the Castello di Vezio. From the boat dock follow the charming lake side walk that leads to the heart of the village with its narrow cobble stone streets and important sites such as the medieval church of San Giorgio, Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. You can visit the beautiful gardens of both villas with a joined ticket. Castello di Vezio, from where you enjoy a wonderful view of the Central Lake area, can be reached from near the ferry dock in about 30 min (uphill). It hosts a falconery.