La Via dei Monti Lariani is a beautiful hiking trail of 125 kilometers (77 miles) that runs along the western side of Lake Como. It consists of old paths across the mountains that were used by local people to reach the Alpine pastures. This long footpath is ideal for anyone staying on Lake Como who wishes to take a stroll in the unspoilt nature of the surrounding valleys.
La Via dei Monti Lariani is divided into four sections: Cernobbio – Val d’Intelvi (28 km); Val d’Intelvi – Val Menaggio (26 km); Val Menaggio – Valle Albano (24 km); Valle Albano – Sorico (46 km). Along the trail, you’ll be guided by well-marked signs in aluminium (or painted on rocks) that will give you clear directions to the closest destinations.
Before starting your hiking, note that in a day you will only be able to cover a small portion of trail. The four sections are quite long, moreover you have to deal with differences in altitude. This nature route stretches out at an average height of 1000 meters, since most of the pastures are located between 600 and 1200 m. For this reason, during your walk on La Via dei Monti Lariani you will have the opportunity to spend the night in one of the refuges or inns in the villages traversed by the trail.
The first part of the trail starts at the bus stop of Piazza Mazzini, Cernobbio. Take Via Volta and head towards Rovenna and Monte Bisbino. Right after the bend, pick up Via Parini on the left and then turn right into Via Monte Grappa. At the church turn right, cross the bridge and take left. You will end up on the road leading up from Cernobbio. After 100 meters, take the shortcut on the left that leads to Rovenna (which can also be reached by C28 bus from Cernobbio). Follow the directions to Scarone and Madrona, then turn almost immediately right and take the muletrack that leads up to Monte Scarone and to Madrona.
After a couple of curves, pick up the trail to Monte Bisbino which passes by the chapel of San Carlo. At the end of the muletrack, before reaching the path that leads to the top of the mountain, turn right towards the locality Ca’ Bossi. A wide track will take you slightly downhill to the Colma del Bugone. Now, after approximately three hours of walk, you’ll be on the hills that overlook Moltrasio. Enjoy a view of the Alps, Monte Generoso and Sasso Gordona. Then, keep walking and get to Colma dei Murelli (1200 meters asl), where you can relax at the refuge which has the same name.
After one hour of walk you will get to the Colma di Binate. There you will have the chance to see the “nevera”: cylindrical constructions made of stone, filled with snow (neve) and used during summers for food storage. Continue La Via dei Monti Lariani along an easy path that overlooks Switzerland, then head for the Colma di Schignano (here starts a trail that takes you to Schignano or Argegno). At the fork keep right and head for the Val d’Intelvi. Next, you will come across Sasso Gordona, a mountain that is full of tunnels as a part of the Linea Cadorna: a defence line that was built in 1915 along the Swiss-Italian border, to prevent invasions from beyond the Alps.
Continue towards the Prabello refuge, but before getting there take the muletrack on the right and head for Alpe di Cerano. Keep right and get to the road that leads up from Casasco to Erbonne. If you are tired of walking, here you can take the C21 bus and go back to Argegno. Pass the picnic area and pick up the muletrack to the left, that leads to Erbonne. At some point you’ll come across an intersection with a tree equipped with trail signs. Turn right and take another muletrack which goes to the refuges of Ermogna.
An easy track will lead you to Monte di Carolza. Continue on La Via dei Monti Lariani and turn left towards Capanna Bruno / San Fedele. You will get to the road coming up from Casasco: turn left and, after you pass the bend with three crosses, take the muletrack on the left. You will reach the restaurant Capanna Giuseppe e Bruno. Here you have to turn right and head for Alpe Orimento / San Fedele.
An easy and flat trail runs through the steep fields of Monte Crocione, crossing a ski lift. At the intersection, take the trail left leading uphill. At the following intersection, keep left again in order to reach Bocca di Orimento. Follow the road that leads down to Casasco and, after approximately two km, you will get to Rifugio Cristé. Keep walking until you reach an intersection: turn left and follow the road that goes towards San Fedele. After 300 meters, pick up a large cart track on the left and enjoy a splendid view of Val d’Intelvi and the mountains of Ticino canton (Switzerland). You will end up on a road that leads to the center of San Fedele, where the first part of La Via dei Monti Lariani ends.
San Fedele can be reached by bus from Argegno (C20/C21 lines) or from Porlezza (C22). From the last stop, cross the main road and get to the upper part of the town. A wide path will take you to the locality Belvedere, where you have a good view of the Val d’Intelvi. Keep walking in the woods and reach a group of farms called La Zella. From here you can make a small detour of 20 minutes towards ‘Alpe di Blessagno’, where you will find the Agriturismo la Radice (lodging and restaurant).
From La Zerla you will enter a pinewood, followed by a beechwood, to arrive in the vicinity of the pasture Bassetta Bassa. Go through the ruined farmhouses and turn right to pick up a trail (marked with a yellow sign) which leads up to the Alpe di Colonno. Walk up to the big metal cross and then go down to the road which comes from Pigra. Turn left and head towards the refuge Boffalora. La Via dei Monti Lariani goes on continuing on the paved road that leads to Monte Galbiga, but at the first bend you have to take the muletrack on the right (towards Grandola ed Uniti).
Go through the Val Perlana and, after you pass the locality La Taiada, the trail finally leads out of the woods. Cross a pasture and get to the Alpe Gada. From here the trail proceeds to Piazza, where you have a beautiful view of Lake Como and surrounding mountains. The path then goes downhill until it gets to Garbagno. When you pass Garbagno, leave the muletrack where you are (it goes to Lenno), instead take the trail on the left, which leads to Narro.
When you get above the settlement, take the trail on the right and pass through a thick wood in order to reach Ossino. The trail crosses two rocky valleys and then ends onto a military road, which runs through a 120 meter long tunnel. After the tunnel, walk down to the pastures of Monti Brenté. Follow the old military road and head for Paullo. When you reach the Church of the Madonna di Paullo you will be in Val Menaggio. Leave the trail and continue on a paved road that you should follow to the left, then pick the trail down to the right. You will come to the locality of Croce di Menaggio. Near the church square the second part of La Via dei Monti Lariani ends. On the main road Menaggio – Lugano, twenty meters to the right, you will find the bus stop for Menaggio (C12 line).
The third section of La Via dei Monti Lariani starts in Grandola ed Uniti, approximately one kilometer away from the end of the second path. You can reach the starting point by C12 bus and getting off at the “Bivio per Naggio” stop. When you are in Cardano (hamlet of Grandola ed Uniti) turn into “Via Carlo Galbiatti”, where section 3 starts. Follow the road and head for Codogna. There you will see Villa Camozzi, a 17th century villa which now hosts the town hall. Turn right and take the road leading down to the the Agriturismo “La Vecchia Chioderia”, where you can have a meal by the Senagra stream
Cross the bridge and take the muletrack which leads to Barna. At the church continue left (pay attention to the signs on the houses), then head for La Piazza. When you reach a carriage road, follow it to the left and take almost immediately a track to the right. Pass through the woods and keep right at the following junction. This trail leads down to a small wooden bridge near the spring of Troi, and then reaches the village Breglia. Past Breglia, after a short distance you will find a fork where you have to turn right and cross the Val Greno.
Head for Carcente and enjoy the view from the many viewpoints. In the middle of this nice hamlet take the muletrack on the left and head for Monti di Carcente. La Via dei Monti Lariani continues towards Monti di Treccione before reaching Montuglio, where you will find a road connection to Rezzonico. The path then goes on passing through the Monti di Bracco and leads to the little Church of S. Domenico. After an uneasy stretch through the dry and rocky Quaradella Valley, you will reach the Monti di Naro, which are surrounded by a pinewood.
From the fountain in the middle of the houses, the trail continues towards the pasture of Alpe N’Alcim. Enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding peaks. A bit further, you will reach the highest point (1250 m) of the third section of La Via dei Monti Lariani, near Val Grande. The path will start going gently downhill. Keep to the right and pass through the rural settlements of Adaca and Sciresoo. Then, head for Labbio and climb towards a mountain pass called Sella di San Bernardo. From the church you can see the Valle Albano, where the trail leads down to.
Pick the route on the left and head for the locality of Piazze, along a trail that descends the steep fields of the northern slope of Monte Bregagno. Right at the beginning of the rural settlement, where you find the yellow sign indicating its name, turn right and walk down to the lower part of the hamlet. You will find a cart track that leads down through a chestnut wood to the bridge over the Albano River. You will come soon to Catasco, from where you have to follow the muletrack leading up to Garzeno. Here ends the third section of La Via dei Monti Lariani.
The fourth part of La Via dei Monti Lariani starts in Garzeno, that you can reach by C17 bus from Dongo. From the bus stop in the church square, you will have to face a steep climb that leads to the upper part of the town. Cross the road and proceed on a path that goes up through the woods. You will get to a field where you have to keep right, following a trail that leads to the rural settlement L’Avolo. Close to the houses you will see a wide cart track that you have to follow to the left.
Just before reaching a small chapel, leave the cart track and pick up the trail leading up to the right to Sant’Anna. Past the church of Sant’Anna, walk down on the paved road that leads up from Garzeno. At the following bend, leave the road and take the muletrack towards Cagnao. Walk along the field, then pick up the trail on the left that leads into the woods. You will end up on a road that you have to follow to the left. At the bend in the settlement Cragno, pick up the cart track heading for Stabié and when you get there go down to Ieva. An asphalt road will lead you to the byres of Nessa.
Turn down to the right and proceed on a path through the woods. Proceed on a cart track and, at the following fork, continue to the left towards the clearing of L’Agnone, where you will see a fountain. Now La Via dei Monti Lariani leads on amongst mountain slopes towards the byres of Badalucco. Reach the head of the valley and cross the old Budanghel bridge. Afterwards, you will pass through some farmhouses. Near the last houses take the trail to the right and cross a field. The path re-enters the woods and leads on to a cart track. Turn right and cross a small bridge. Head for Boiena, then after a few hundred meters you will reach a fork: take left and follow the cart track that ascends from Ponte Maiavacca.
When the cart track ends, continue on a path leading through woods and fields which enters the heart of the Valle del Dosso. You will see a path signed with yellow paint which leads to refuge Vincino. Cross a small bridge and continue for about 500 meters, until you reach a fork where you have to go right. At the following fork, keep right in order to reach the farmhouses of Monte Piazza. The trail will then go down steeply towards the Vincino bridge, over the Liro River. On the other side of the bridge, an easy trail will lead you to the fields of Pianezza. After some walk you will reach the road that leads up from Dosso del Liro, in the area called Pian delle Castagne.
Proceed down hill for about ten minutes, passing the deviation for the “Agriturismo La Fonte di Mariella”. You will come to Dosso del Liro, where you’ll find the stop for the C18 bus. Follow the carriage road downhill, and at the first bend take the trail on the left. Pass the Ronzone stream and head for Arecc, where starts a path that gets down to the road Peglio-Livo (near the little church of the Madonna di Pian di Gorghiglio). If you want to stop, just turn right and take the bus in Peglio. If you want to continue on La Via dei Monti Lariani, turn left toward Livo.
Follow the road toward Livo and pass the little Church of La Madonna del Pian di Gorghiglio, which dates back to the 17th century. Once in Livo, cross the town center and then follow the road that leads to Dangri. The cart track will lead you into the Livo valley, down to the stone bridge called Ponte di Dangri on the Livo stream. After crossing the bridge turn right. A few meters later, ignore the track on the left leading to the Val di Bares, but follow the Livo stream to the right on a not very well defined path. At a group of farm byres, go down for a few hundred meters and then go up to left to the farmhouses of Barro, an interesting rural settlement.
From here the path leads steeply downhill to the Bares stream. Pay attention to eventual landslides. Note that, after a long period of rain, it might be difficult to cross the stream. After passing the Bares stream climb up a very steep path through the woods which reaches a group of farmsteads on a small saddle. From here the ascent continues toward Puii, that is surrounded by fields with a beautiful view of the Livo valley. At the fork, near the last building of Puii, take the ascending trail to the left. It will go up through the fields to Trobbio. From the fountain, walk to the upper part of the settlement, and from here a path on the right leads out of the Livo Valley toward Tabbiadello, a wide mound that dominates the northern part of the lake with a marvellous view of Pian di Spagna, the mouths of Adda and Mera river, and the surrounding mountains.
Near the fountain, cross the cemented track that leads up from Vercana and continue on the trail that leads to Roncai. From here the trail turns into the San Vincenzo valley and reaches Incisa. Near the last houses, take the trail that descends to the right. The path leads quite level deep into the valley of San Vincenzo. At the head of the valley it goes down steeply through a birch wood, toward the stream. Cross the bridge and after a few meters pick up the ascending trail to the left that climbs up the other side of the valley. Out of the woods it goes halfway up the mountain slope to Montalto. The path leads through the village and gets on to the asphalt road. La Via dei Monti Lariani continues on the road up to the left. After 200 meters, pick up the track on the left that after 100 meters ends on to a road which you follow to the right for about 500 meters. When you get to a small wooden shrine, with an information panel indicating the names of the alpine farms of the area, leave the road and take to the left over the fields. From here the path leads into the valley of Sorico, overlooked by Monte Berlinghera (be careful in this area for possible landslides).
After crossing two streams at the head of the valley, the path climbs up to the other side of the valley and then reaches the fields of Piazza Lunga. From here, follow the cart track for about 800 m that ends out on the road that leads up from Gera Lario, and in a short time leads to Fordeccia. Continue on the road and after 150 meters you will reach a fork where you have to turn right. Proceed on the cart track, with a marvellous view of Sasso Manduino, that leads to Colorina. Shortly after you reach Sass Olt, from where you have a superb view of Lake Mezzola and the Val Chiavenna. Just before the two farmhouses, descend down to the right in order to pick up the path that leads to Baita Carla, where you have to pick up the cart track on the left that leads to Monte Pradaioli. The path goes down through thick chestnut woods to the clearing of Pozzi.
Continue on the cart track that comes out on another cart track that you follow to the right in order to arrive at Peledo. The descent continues through the woods to Selve. From the fountain of the village the path leads down to the beautiful church San Miro. From here it is only a brief stretch to Sorico, where you will find the bus stop (line C10) and also hotels and restaurants.