We had a short road trip down to Lake Como last week, a bit of a mad dash through France, Switzerland and then into Northern Italy.
We camped at the bottom, eastern leg of the lake (at Abbadia Larianna) in a small campsite which is actually more local community bar / cafe than touristy campsite (but all the better for it).
The plan was to just chill out for a few days, sample the Chianti (mission accomplished) and do the tourist thing in the small, picturesque towns that dot the shores of the lake.
It was a bonus to realise the town we were based in is at the start of a trail that goes back centuries but has been ‘upgraded’ in places and made into a long distance path.
The Sentiero Del Viandante (The poetically named Wayfarer’s Path or Path of the Wanderer, as I’ve seen it described in different translations) stretches about 45km and I think you could walk the whole thing in 3 days.
Which would make a great trail, as the views from the very small section I did one morning (about 3 hours in total) gave me some beautiful views.
I passed olive tree orchards, allotments and walked through quiet, cool ancient woodland in parts. And whenever there was a break in the trees, had fantastic views across Lake Como.
I think this is a more ‘recent’ trail than the old roman trade route that followed the western shores of lake Como from the Milan area up to Switzerland .. but it is still hundreds of years old, acting as a Mule track for goods that were deemed not worthy of boat transport across the lake.
As mentioned, the trail (even the short bit I did) has a mix of outlooks with lots to see.
I walked past small-holdings, tended by some slightly taciturn old folk (must have been my annoyingly cheerful ‘buongiorno’ ‘s !) and also hamlets high above the lake and into shaded woodland (Beech trees I think – must check!).
It may get busy in the high season but I only met about 4 or so other hikers. The most attention I got was from the numerous dogs in gated yards and gardens in the lower section, where you wend your way up from the town into the farm / smallholding zone and then into the woods.
Luckily no attention from the wild boar that I think are actually higher up in more secluded parts of the forests around the lake. Although at one point on a particularly shadowed and still woodland section; I did keep an eye out for a big stick to grab should Signor or Signora Boar appear.. they can be pretty narky by all accounts.
Anita and I had a day trip higher up the lake a couple of days later (to Varenna and the castle above it) and we walked a small section of the Sentiero Del Viandante again there.
Again, it was a mix of shaded sections, sun-baked stretches and vertiginous views across the lake to the surrounding hills and mountains. The going on both occasions was a mix of compacted dirt, gravel and cobble stone.
Not a taxing trail ascent-wise but probably not best done in the high season midday sun either!
If you find yourself out in the Lake Como area and have the time (I’d love to have spent a couple of days or more doing this) you should investigate Sentiero Del Viandante.
Here are some photos of the section of the Sentiero Del Viandante that I walked.