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The Val Sanagra Orrido: the Canyon of Menaggio – closed because of recent landslides (July 8th 2024)


This walk leads through the fascinating gorge of the Val Sanagra following the course of the river between two imposing rocky walls into a deep narrow spectacular canyon. At some points the path has been hewn out in the rock facing deep ravines and leads over hanging bridges ( not suitable for those suffering of vertigo).


At Menaggio, from Piazza Garibaldi take Via Calvi. Half way up the street on the right, you find the S. Marta church. Observe the interesting historical bas-reliefs on the façade of the church. One is a fragment of a Roman tombstone of Lucius Minicius Exorato, above it is a 15th-century effigy of the Menaggio castle, which has become the municipal coat of arms.

At the end of Via Calvi is the parish church of S.Stefano of very ancient origins whose original Romanesque structures have however been lost. Take Via Caronti on the left side of the church. At the end of the street turn right and after 30 m turn left into the cobblestone street (via Castellino da Castello) that leads to “Castello”, the old defensive castle that was completely destroyed by the Grigions in 1523 but the ancient walls are still there and can be seen at several points around this part of the town.

Just past the church S.Carlo (1614) the Via Castellino da Castello ends onto Via N.Sauro which you follow to the right (follow the side walk). Go up the steps on the right side of the Hotel Loveno and back on the road follow it to the left. At the next bend, (where there is a laundary mat) turn left.

You are now in the hamlet Loveno with its splendid villas. To begin with, on the left at the beginning of the street, there is the Villa Bel Faggio and after 200 m you pass Villa Garovaglio Ricci part of Villa Vigoni which hosts the Centro Italo Tedesco Villa Vigoni.

You pass the church San Lorenzo with its baroque façade, turn left in order to reach the sport centre and then, after a brief ascent, you arrive at Piamuro a big pasture (40 min. from Menaggio), one of the entrances to the Val Sanagra Park. From here follow the trail n°4 in the direction of Mulino della Valle for about 600 meters.  Ignore the first deviation to the left for Tobi but just past a small pine wood, turn left following the sign indicating “Belvedere” and “Tobi”. From the clearing with some chestnut trees, walk up to the Belvedere from where you can admire the Villa Bagatti Valsecchi built in the 17th century, which stands in the charming village of Cardano overlooking the gorge.

Return to the clearing and take the path that leads down in bends to Tobi. For many years, this beautiful stone bridge was the only fast connection between Loveno and the village of Cardano. On the bridge there is a small chapel dedicated to the Madonna del Latte.

Do not cross the bridge but continue to the left crossing a small stream. After admiring the Tobi waterfall, you continue your walk towards the Val Sanagra Orrido.

On the other side of the river, we can see evidence of industrial archeology: the Cardano iron furnaces. built in 1797 where iron used to be forged.

You advance into the canyon. The vegetation is dense, some rays of the sun nevertheless manage to penetrate. It is a fantastic world, intact since centuries, rich in botanical species and animated by small local fauna. The gorge features giants’ potholes and particular rocky stratifications.

The flying bridges were created in the past to allow the maintenance the water supply pipes of the Menaggio aqueduct. Mind your head !!

You go down a steep staircase and cross a flying bridge over the Sanagra river. After a last stretch in the woods you reach Burgatto where the Mantero family had one of its oldest and most prestigious silk factories where many local women were employed.  Before starting their shift, many of them had to travel kilometers on steep paths to get to the factory. The silk factory in the 80s has been moved to Como for logistic reasons. On the lakeside of Menaggio, the monument to the silk weavers by Francesco Somaini reminds us of the labour and efforts of the weavers. Tessitura Peverelli Alesilk has now its seat in a part of the old factory.

Cross the small bridge to the left and ascend the cobblestone street that leads you back to Via N. Sauro.

Directions & Parking

Map directions →