After a few days in Italy I am feeling settled in and already diving right into both the lake (it’s cold) and the regional foods (yum, yum). My jet lag has finally gone so yesterday I decided to hike and was as easy as just stepping out the door. I’m staying about halfway up Alpe Giumello, on the north eastern side of the Lake Como. From the peak it’s possible to see up to 80 km into the distance, depending on visibility and weather. I thought walking up to the summit would be a nice way to get to know the area while getting into good hiking shape, an activity I will be devoting a lot of time to during my travels.
Lake Como in the evening.
The walk can be done from Bellano proper or at any point along the area’s main road, SP 66. Following along the winding mountain course requires watching for speedy drivers barreling around each switchback. (Upon arrival, my companion told me, “Speed limit signs in Italy are per-person in the car”). Occasionally tiny signs will indicated a footpaths that cut the road corners, leading to the Giumello summit. The walking route does not appear to be regularly maintained although certainly more welcoming and shaded than the road and in good enough shape to follow. The trail winds upwards and through a few small villages and bends overlooking deep valleys and layers of mountains to the east.
Views along the way up.
Following along the footpath whenever possible I made my way up. Much of the route was a shaded hillside forest abundant with wildflowers and the occasional lizard without a clear view of the lake. I continued for about an hour seeing no other hikers and only one cyclist. Lake Como is surrounded by beautiful mountains all offering a unique view, sometimes including Lake Lugano and distant alpine chains covered in snow. A few summits are very popular and can even become a bit crowded. Fortunately I had a lot of privacy and peace but I wondered why Giumello was not more popular. I did a lot a research on hikes around Lake Como before arriving and never saw anything about this easy and beautiful route. At lower altitudes near the lake, heat builds throughout the day and creates a haze obscuring the view of the mountains.
Goats at the top.
The forest ends at a ski resort where green summer pasture wraps around the top of the mountain. A few well-worn foot paths gently curving along the side of the summit with views of Lake Lucerne on a clear day. To reach the top and get the best view it’s up to the walker to figure out which way is safest and manageable for themselves. Talking a zigzagging route of my making I arrived at the very top where a large cross stands. The views were stunning in all directions: rugged rocky peaks, the beautiful expansive lakes and both French and Swiss snow-capped ranges. Up on the peaks you can really see the surrounding area well, even during very hot days.
The hike is roughly 15 km hike up from Bellano, the mountain could make a nice day trip from Varenna or anywhere on the east side of the lake. The route also directly connects to the Sentiero del Viandate with accommodation available in several villages along the way. For the extra organized it’s possible to purchase a bus ticket in advance in the Bellano train station to be used for the journey back down the mountain from Vendrogno. My experience with the local bus was that it was never on time but made several strips a day between the two cities. With some patience it would be worth taking the ride to avoid hiking back down.
Sunset began and it was time to start the climb down.
The east side of Lake Como is known for being far calmer and more reasonably priced than the popular west side but it has all the same things to offer. For me, the best part about this area is seeing the sunset over the lake and hearing the nightly thunder roll in, almost like a chiming clock, letting me know it’s time to go to sleep.
If you are curious about visiting Lake Como, leave me a message and I am happy to hear about what you have planned.
Thank you reading.