Today we’ll explore the famous Greenway of Lake Como. Some friends of mine suggested this trip and their enthusiasm has been so contagious that we’ve decided to experience it ourselves.
The Greenway is a route that winds along Lake Como, from the village of Colonno to Griante. It’s 10 km long but you can veer off the route to explore the little villages or to relax on the tiny beaches along the way.
A convenient shuttle bus will take you back to your car rather than driving the whole route and finding parking at each stop. You can take advantage of the shuttle bus service in any of the villages along the Greenway. As an alternative to the bus, you can use both the ferry and taxi-boats to return to Colonno.
Starting from Colonno, the Greenway passes through Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, Tremezzo and ends in Griante. The elevation range along the route is only about 100 meters. Along the Greenway, there are unmistakable road signs making it nearly impossible to get lost.
The walking/biking path is suitable for everyone and both adults and children can enjoy the trip while looking at the beautiful landscape. Since the path is well-maintained and not very steep, parents can even carry small children in backpack carriers. You will need suitable clothing depending on the season, of course, such as comfortable trainers, sportswear, sunglasses, and a hat. I recommend that you also bring a supply of water and snacks as these essentials are pricy along the Greenway.
One of the most interesting features of this walk is the diversity of the paths. Asphalted roads flank the state highway and then they transition to narrow alleys among the ancient walls of the old town centers. From the slightly uneven mule tracks, you’ll pass by wide grassy paths that go up soft slopes from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake. You can even walk the paths near the lake, where the only thing you need to do is enjoy the soft sound of lapping waves.
The best season to walk the Greenway is spring, perhaps the month of May as we did. The days are long and warm and the gardens and terraces are in full bloom. The villages are not crowded and the traffic (with a little luck) is not quite so intense.
The Greenway starts from the old town center of Colonno and climbs up to the hill that leads to Sala Comacina. This is the old Queen Path which once connected Como, Chiavenna, and Coira and which according to tradition, was ordered by Queen Teodolinda. The stretch between Colonno and Ossuccio is perhaps the most panoramic because it winds above the inhabited centers and you can see breathtaking views. The view of Comacina Island is wonderful and if you have time, I recommend you take a boat ride to reach it. The complete walking tour lasts about an hour and our advice is to have lunch at the “Locanda dell’Isola Comacina”, where many famous people gather to eat and where you can enjoy the ancient fire ritual. Every year on the Sunday closest to June 24th, St. John’s Day is celebrated with fireworks and a boat procession on the lake.
Considering the numerous villas you can see near the Greenway, it would be perfect to combine the walk with the days of the open villas organized by FAI. One of the most beautiful villas is Villa Balbianello. Even though you need to take a detour from the main path, the view of its flowering terraced gardens and perfectly preserved interiors certainly pays off. The 18th century Palazzo Brentano is also worth visiting. It’s the symbol of the Brentano family’s power in trading citrus, olive oil, laurel, and chestnuts. Bear in mind that the most important Italian organization for the defense of cultural heritage (FAI) plans open days and free entrance on Sundays in many old villas. Therefore, don’t forget to check the web site: www.fondoambiente.it.
If you like sunbathing or just relaxing, look for one of the many little grassy beaches between Colonno and Lenno. There are kiosks selling hot sandwiches and cold drinks, or you can take advantage of the picnic areas. After Lenno, the Greenway climbs towards Mezzegra and then goes down to Bolvedro and Tremezzo. The final section is entirely on the lakefront that runs along the state road. You can take an easy detour to the nice center of Tramezzo, characterized by arcades and small shops. The Greenway stops near the shore of Griante.
Copyright photo: hotelmetropolesuisse. com; www.isola-comacina.it
Article written by: S. Mazzola