Trekking at Lake Como: Torno, Piazzaga and Montepiatto

Lake Como: Torno

Torno | Credits: Luca Casartelli (CC)

Lake Como is one of the most important lakes in Northern Italy that promises a great range of walking and hiking trails.
There are some popular walks in enchanting woodlands, in valleys rich of history with fascinating geology, and above all in superb mountain scenaries.

Our itinerary starts from the picturesque village of Torno, that goes up to piazzale Largo degli Alpini. From there you’ll find an old mule track that leads to Monte Piatto.

The path is straightforward. You just need to keep going uphill. The journey will offer you the chance to discover beautiful lake views, a Roman stone arch and a rich wildlife. It is a very simple trial with a minimum height level difference. It is suitable also for children. It will take you between 4 – 5 hours to do the circular route, but you may find some short cuts along the way.

Before taking the path that leads up to the hillsides, we suggest you to take a walk around the village of Torno located on the lakefront. The village has maintained over the years the original structure with a network of little streets, staircase passages and houses that climb from the lakeshore culminating in the upper part of the village.

Trekking Lake Como

Credits: Josef Grunig (CC)

The main square is an open terrace on the lake that can be only reached on foot. Here visitors can see the parish church of Santa Tecla with its elegant façade, bell tower and Gothic rose window. Another interesting church is the one of San Giovanni Battista del Chiodo (Church of Saint John). Its name is linked to the discovery of one of the nails (chiodo) of the Passion of Jesus. In fact an archbishop, who had taken part in the First Crusade, came into possession of one of the nails of the cross of Jesus and left it in this church on his way back home. The Church was built in Romanesque Gothic style, the main feature is the splendid portal, decorated by Rodari brothers, famous for the portals of Como’s Cathedral.

To get to the mule track you have to cross the Strada Statale Regina that divides Torno into two. Just walk up the main road from Piazza degli Alpini and follow the red arrows for the “strada regia” and then further on go to the left following the signs for Molina/Piazzaga/Massi avelli. If in doubt, just ask a local where “Massi avelli” is, they’ll happily point you in the right direction.

The first part of the track winds gently along a narrow cobbled path, with short hedges growing alongside and meadows sloping down towards the lake. You will find yourself wandering along admiring the beautiful views in this fairytale landscape.

Following the mule track you’ll find the Porta Travaina, a stone arch which was part of a tollhouse gate built by the foreigner usurpers to get tolls from people going from the village to their estates in the mountains and vice versa. From here the road divides into two. If you go left you can go to the massi avelli, which are rock tombs that date back to the Preistoric Era. These are Avello del Maas, Avello di Rasina, Avello delle Piazze, Avello Negrenza and Avello delle Cascine di Negrenza.

The biggest one mesures more than 180 x 80 cm. The track is well maintained and there are signs next to each tomb that tells the history. When you get to the third one, Avello Negrenza there are two different paths that you can choose. The first one, just follow the path in the woods where after around 15 minutes you’ll reach the mule track leading to Piazzagra. Otherwise, you can walk along the path on the right that will take you in half an hour to Alpe Piazzagra, where you’ll find a group of cottages and a typical “crotto” where you can stop for a lovely meal.

From Piazzagra the mule track goes on to Montepiatto (610mt), where there is the Chiesa di S. Elisabetta (Church of Saint Elizabeth) dating back to the 16th Century that is worth visiting. It was at first managed by a fraternity and then by a group of cloistered nuns. The convent closed with the runsacking of the Swiss and then of the Spaniards. The place offers unforgettable and amazing views.

Nearby, “Prea Pendula” (a suspended stone made of an ice-age granite boulder suspended in equilibrium on the apex of a limestone rock) is easy to reach following the signs. From there you can enjoy breathtaking views. The whole structure resembles a huge mushroom.

To go back from where you started, if you don’t want to walk back from the same raod, you can take the mule track that goes down the western side which leads to Torno, but you have to be careful because the signs are not very clear.

Where to stay. If you would like to spend a night in Torno we suggest you the Hotel Vapore. For longer stays at Lake Como, instead, we suggest you to take a look at the website of Vacanze Lago that offers a wide range of holiday homes, self catering apartments and villas for rent.

How to get there. You can reach Como by train, then we suggest you to get to Torno by boat. Even if it’s a bit more expensive, you will be repaid by beautiful lake views.