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Antica Strada Regina as it climbs up Sasso Rancio

L’Antica Strada Regina


The Antica Strada Regina, which ran along the west side of the lake, was built during the late period of the Roman Empire. For centuries it was an important  connection  between the south and the north side of the Alps, between the territory of Como and Milano and the Transalpine regions. It was with time also used by the medieval pilgrims on their way to rom. This well conserved stretch of the antique road starts at Nobiallo and leads along the slopes of “Sasso Rancio” to the splendid village of Rezzonico.


At Menaggio, from Piazza Garibaldi follow the lake promenade “Lungo Lago Castelli” and pass by the Lido (beach and swiming pool). Then follow Via Roma and turn right into Via Cipressi. Just past the campsite Europa you end up on the main road. Follow it to the right till you reach the entrance of a tunnel where you pick up the cycle-foot path road on the right side of it. It passes a rock-climbing gym and ends on the main road again. Cross the road in order to follow the side walk. After 100 m leave it and pick up the street to the left that leads uphill to the Carabinieri station. From here follow the Vecchia Starda Regina.
You pass the church of S.Bartolomeo and Nicolao with its leaning bell-tower of the 13th century and you enter the centre of Nobiallo. It used to be a fishermen’s village with its small alleyways leading down to the lake.
At the end of the village you cross an ancient bridge that dates back to the second half of the IV century and it is called ” della Madonna” because it leads to the close-by Sancturary of the Madonna della Pace, a baroque structure.

The miraculous event that led to its construction goes back to the first 1600s when a simulacrum of Matteo Stoppani of 1484, placed in a chapel, shed tears. It was therefore decided to build the sanctuary in 1656.

From the Sanctuary begins the steep ascent of Sasso Rancio, a rough and arid rock overlooking the lake, which forced travelers to a difficult climb not without danger. It was however used until 1902, the date of construction of the present lake side road.

Below you can spot the beautiful Villa la Gaeta. The Ambrosoli family commissioned the architects Adolfo and Gino Coppedè to build a house in the form of a medieval-Renaissance castle that was completed in 1921. Here some scenes of the James Bond movie “Casino Royale” were filmed.

Past a “modern residence“, the track eventually leads down steeply to the former lake side road used before a series of new tunnels were built. Paying attention to the traffic, follow it to the entrance of the next tunnel where you pick up the former lake side road on the right of the entrance. Attention! just after 30 m take the track on your left which leads above the entrance of the tunnel. The track conducts through the woods to the first houses of the town Acquaseria, part of the township called San Siro.

Cross the bridge over the river Serio and enter the center of the town. At the church of S. Abbondio take via Regina Margherita . At the end of the town, at a fork, take to the right (left the road leads up to Pezzo).
The street eventually becomes a cobble stone track that leads to the village of Molvedo. At Molvedo the Antica Strada Regina is interrupted by the park of Villa Camilla. To bypass the park, pick up the the track to the left (Via del  Murel) that ascends to the hamlet Mastena (50 meters before arriving at the wall of the villa’s park)

Once at Mastena turn right, walk through the center of the village. From Piazza del Gelsomino follow Via Ponte di Mastena. Cross the small bridge over the stream Cellino and take the track that descends to the right (Via Scellino). It crosses the road twice and at the end of the small street, go left and you arrive at an oratory.

We recommend a small detour to the lake to admire the Church of Santa Maria which was built between 1464 and 1474 to give home to the Dominicans. In the façade there is a beautiful portal in white marbel and inside there is a very dense pictorial decoration. Next to the Church you can see the ruins of an ancient Roman fortress. It was probably used to control traffic over land and water.

Back to the oratory continue along the “Antica Strada Regina“. Cross the road leading up to the various hamlets of San Siro scattered along the slope and proceed among small kitchen gardens and between stone border walls.
Just before arriving at Rezzonico, on the right, you pass the “Castellaccio” which is what remains of a medieval watch tower. Around its remains there is a picnic area with fountain.
The cobbled stone path ascends to the former lakeside road which you cross to enter the centre of the village Rezzonico. We highly recommend to go down to the lake side to the little picturesque Harbour. Pass under the arcades and go up the cobbled stone steps tha lead to the castle of Rezzonico of the 14th century.

It was built by the local noble Della Torre family. it is one of the rare well preserved fortifications of the lake. The buiding is surmounted by an embatled tower. At present it is a private residence.

From here you walk to the main road where you find the bus stop.

Directions & Parking

Map directions →

By public transport

Menaggio can be reached by hydrofoil, boat or bus line C10 (Como-Menaggio-Colico), C12 (Menaggio-Porlezza-Lugano).
Rezzonico is connected by bus line C10 (Como-Menaggio-Colico).