This itinerary follows the traces of the former railway line that ran, from 1884 till 1939, between Menaggio and Porlezza connecting Lake Como with Lake Lugano. The route runs through the Val Menaggio and touches the Lago di Piano Nature Reserve.
From the ferry dock of Menaggio, cross Via IV Novembre and go up to the Youth Hostel. From here continue straight on and, after 500 m at the bend, turn right and ascend the steep road that leads along the side of Monte Crocetta. Continue along Via Privata F.lli Castelli which ends onto the main State road 340 which connects Menaggio with Lugano. Follow it to the left, uphill, for just 50m and at the next bend pick up the cycle/footpath. The track enters the valley and passes a 90 m long tunnel. It leads onto the SP road of Grandola ed Uniti. Turn right and then immediately left in via Roma (beware of local traffic). After approx. 300 m turn left into Via Gonte. Once at the village Gonte, turn left into Via Cascinello Rosso that finishes after another 400 m on the state road 340. Cross it and follow the signs for Bene Lario / Grona and after 200 m pick up the cycle footpath on the right.
Near the village of Grona the track is interrupted. Continue to the right along Via Cascine. At the intersection, pick up the cycle track again straight ahead (sign for Lago di Piano). You enter the Nature Reserve Lago di Piano. You pass behind the campsite Ranocchio and just past its entrance you skirt the lake Piano. Soon you reach the visitor centre La Casa della Riserva with an information office and a small eco-museum (for information tel. 0344 74961).
On the left you notice the hillock called Brione with the Castel S. Pietro at its top. Cross the bridge over the river Cuccio. Follow the course of the river until you reach the main road SP14. Continue to the right for 100 m and then cross the main road and turn into Via Prati that leads to the residential complex called “Porto Letizia.” On the left side of the main building take the path that skirts Lake Lugano. Follow it to the centre of Porlezza. Back the same way.
Note: The rail way line between Menaggio and Porlezza was opened in 1884 in order to attract more tourists from northern Europe to the area. Arriving by train to Lugano the tourists were then transported by steam boat to Porlezza from where the train brought them to Menaggio. After the first World War it became a simple working class transit system that lasted till 1939. After the Second World War the train line was abandoned.