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On ancient mule tracks along Lake Como — Sentiero del Viandante

Marika Abbà

On ancient mule tracks along Lake Como — Sentiero del Viandante

Hiking Collection by Marika Abbà

5

Tours

22:45 h

39.2 mi

9,400 ft

The Sentiero del Viandante (Wayfarer's Path) is a multi-day trek along the entire eastern shore of Lake Como, specifically the Lecco branch.

This route follows the ancient mule tracks that connected Milan with the Alpine passes and Valtellina. It’s thought that the Romans created these routes, but there aren’t any reliable sources about this. One thing is certain: during the Napoleonic period, the existing mule tracks were improved and implemented, while the new sections were given the name "Strada Napoleona". Hospices and inns of the past bear witness to the fact that the Sentiero del Viandante was very popular with merchants, smugglers and pilgrims on their way to Rome. In 1992, the route was revived for tourism purposes and in recent years, especially after the pandemic, it has become a popular route for hikers.

The Sentiero del Viandante (Wayfarer's Path) takes you past picturesque stone hamlets, chapels with 15th-century frescoes inside, rivers, spectacular waterfalls, stunning canyons and sweeping views of the two branches of Lake Como. All around you is an amphitheatre of majestic mountains with jagged peaks.

The departure is from Lecco and the arrival point is Colico. I did it in four days, but you can vary it according to your needs and fitness. Keep in mind that this is a trek that requires experience walking in the mountains. In some places, you’ll be walking on uneven or rocky paths and will have to deal with steep gradients both up and downhill. I strongly recommend that you carry hiking poles with you at all times to help you progress. In your rucksack you will need to include breathable technical clothing, some warmer clothing, a rain jacket, an anorak, and a water bottle.

Each stage begins or ends at a lakeside location and along the way you will pass through small villages with fountains and, in some cases, small bars. I recommend you always carry a good supply of food and water with you. To make this trip lighter, you can opt for the luggage transport service or stay in a single accommodation and reach the starting point of the stage by train every day. All the villages have stations close to the centre and are well connected to each other. There are campsites in Abbadia Lariana, Mandello del Lario, Dervio and Colico.

This path can be walked all year round, but I recommend doing it in spring or autumn. In summer it’s very hot and in winter you might find snow even at low altitudes. Although the altitude is not high, the trails are just like the alpine ones.

You can reach Lecco by train from Milan or by car. You can leave your car in the Meridiana shopping centre car park, about 15 minutes' walk from Piazza XX Settembre in the town centre. The tourist office, the Infopoint del Viandante, also overlooks the latter square, where you can get your walking passport before setting off and a certificate of completion at the end. By consulting the online list of establishments and services that are associated with the hike, you can have your passport stamped at each stage. Once you’ve reached a certain number of stamps, you will be entitled to some official gifts of the walk. From Colico you can take the train back to Lecco in about an hour and ten minutes.

Happy trails, travellers!

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Sentiero del Viandante

30.4 mi

6,950 ft

6,925 ft

Last updated: May 3, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    05:32
    10.9 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Collected your passport at the Infopoint del Viandante, head towards the lakefront and follow it until you reach the Hotel Caviate, from where the Path of the Wayfarer actually starts. The first stage, in reality, only includes the section from Lecco to Abbadia Lariana, but being a short route I decided

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  • Difficult
    05:06
    6.83 mi
    1.3 mph
    2,675 ft
    2,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The second stage starts from Lierna and climbs towards Alpe Mezzedo. This is the high variant, but it is also possible to mix with the low one to fully enjoy both. Don't be fooled by these two names, as the first option isn't flat, it just runs at lower altitudes.

    

    Leave behind the last houses of Lierna

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  • Intermediate
    04:17
    6.10 mi
    1.4 mph
    1,900 ft
    1,950 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The second stage of the Sentiero del Viandante includes two variants, the low and the high. Don't be fooled by these two names, as the first option isn't flat, it just runs at lower altitudes.

    

    Before leaving, remember to fill the bottle well, because you may not encounter drinking sources along the way

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  • Intermediate
    03:54
    7.63 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,600 ft
    1,625 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    From Piazza San Giorgio, take the road that runs alongside the tourist office and the multi-storey car park and go up the hill alongside the sumptuous stately villas overlooking the lake. Near the Hotel Eremo Gaudio, take the "Sentiero Scabium" which in a short time, with a steep climb, leads you to

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  • Intermediate
    03:56
    7.66 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,575 ft
    1,625 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The fourth and last stage of the Sentiero del Viandante starts from the center of Dervio, climbs towards the Castle, joins it and descends to Corenno Plinio.

    

    The latter town takes its name from the Roman consul Caio Plinio, a native of the place, and is also known as "the village of a thousand steps

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    39.2 mi
  • Duration
    22:45 h
  • Elevation
    9,400 ft

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On ancient mule tracks along Lake Como — Sentiero del Viandante

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