July, 25 2019 ( Updated December, 03 2021)
Discover our top 3 Chapel climbs on Lake Como
Whether you’re a keen hiker, nature fan or a devout Catholic in search of some inspiration, our top 3 chapel climbs will evoke the boundless beauty of Lake Como, before your very eyes!
Menaggio - La Crocetta & its war memorial chapel
Overlooking the buzzing lakeside resort
of Menaggio, Croce village enjoys the highest elevation of any of the
settlements in the commune. With strong rural roots, the authentic hillside
village features a small rustic 16th century square and is home to
the prestigious ‘Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club’ (established in 1907 and
one of the oldest golf clubs in Italy), as well as providing scenic trails packed
with panoramic views and a scenery rich in local history.
The woodland walks of Monte Crocetta lead to the hill point vista of ‘Belvedere La Crocetta’ as well as a poignant war memorial chapel. Set within the shady woodland, adults and children alike will be able to trace the footsteps of military history; along the restored trenches, armoured positions and observation posts. Originally built in 1915 during the First World War, these military fortifications formed part of the pivotal defence line along the Swiss-Italian border, known as ‘Linea Cadrona’.
Ready to begin? The easy-level walking route starts off at the Croce bus stop. Continue some 15m along the main road, then cross over. You will see a road named ‘Via Wyatt’, in the direction of the signposted golf club. By the start of the road you can spot an ancient washhouse. After 200m, turn left onto ‘Via Pigato’. The road will bend in places and end at an old cart track. Continue along the track and you will shortly arrive in woodland and the unused First World War trenches beyond. A little further on, you will spot through the trees, the little chapel dedicated to San Maurizio. Overlooking Menaggio town, the iconic chapel was built by the ‘Gruppo Alpini di Menaggio’, in remembrance of the fallen soldiers of WW1 and WW2. Two frescoes painted by local Menaggio artist Bruno Azimonti can be viewed, alongside a bunker below the chapel which contains a Sacrarium, in memory.
Close by the chapel, walkers will enjoy the magnificent views from the ‘La Crocetta’ (little cross), which encompasses the entire central lake, as well as the branch southwards to Lecco, the Orobie Alps and northwards towards the upper lake and Rhaetian Alps.
Walking route time: 40 minutes (each way) Ascent: 100m
Difficulty rating: Easy
Starting point: Croce bus stop (393m)
Finishing point: The Belvedere La Crocetta (450m)
Connections: From Menaggio - take the C12 bus/car up the hillside to Croce
Tremezzina - Climb the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sacro Monte di Osccuccio
This steep and beguiling pilgrim’s trail
leads up to the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, an ancient sanctuary perched high
above the picturesque Tremezzina shore. The climb provides a splendid way in
which to absorb the special scenery, heritage and ecclesial prestige of Lake
The unique UNESCO World Heritage site and trail incorporates 14 shrines along the way. These signify the ‘Via Crucis’ (a ritual Catholic walk which depicts the life, passion and resurrection of Jesus). The religious route culminates with the ‘Madonna del Soccorso’ monastery at the top. There a small internal chapel with frescoes dating back to 1500 can be admired. The scenic views of Tremezzina coupled with the rich cultural sights along the way, makes for an unforgettable hike, whatever your faith!
As well as the views, walkers are rewarded at the top with a small café serving hot beverages and wine. Many walkers enjoy bringing up a picnic too. For the more experienced walkers, a steeper road leads further up to the ‘Abbazzia di San Benedetto’, on Val Perlana. This atmospheric site was once inhabited by a hermit and today offers an atmosphere of pure seclusion and tranquillity.
Walking route time: 1 ½ hours Ascent: 200m
Difficulty rating: Easy - Intermediate (due to the steep paths)
Starting point: Lenno
Finishing point: The Madonna del Soccorso monastery (419m)
Connections: By car/ C10 bus service
Griante - A stepped climb up to the San Martino chapel, on Sasso S. Martino
The church of San Martino is perched high above the Tremezzina shore village of Griante. Its delightful presence overlooking the lakeside town provides an iconic focal point on the mountain face, and is well worth exploring in the morning, or mid-afternoon.
The route is simple. At the edge of Griante’s historical centre, you will pass the small church of San Rocco. From there, reach the end of ‘Via Martino’, which forms the starting point for the San Martino ascent. Along the stepped hiking route, cobbled paths lead through the wooded hillside, past small mosaic chapels. Similar to those on the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio climb, the niches depict key moments in the life of Christ. Half-way up, you will be able to spot the ‘Cappella degli Alpini’ (Chapel of the Alpini), which is dedicated to S. Carlo and features some paintings by local Menaggio artist Bruno Azzimonti, to commemorate the local Alpine troops who fought in the war. In time, the cobbled woodland footsteps lead to a flat open-air mountainside path. Visitors will shortly arrive at the finishing point, with the 16th century church of San Martino offering some spectacular panoramic views of the central lake.
The mountainside church was built to commemorate the discovery of a 15th century wooden statue of the Lady with child. The local legend goes that a young girl found it in a mountain cave. Having been brought down the mountain to be placed in the parish church of SS. Nabore and Felice, the statue mysteriously arrived back on the mountain of Sasso San Martino. The locals interpreted this as the Lady wishing to be adored from above, so a niche was built and later the church of San Martino, you see today.
The sunny aspect and breath-taking views make this the perfect place for savouring a picnic and drink from the top, before heading back down. Walkers are advised to wear shoes with a good grip, due to the well-worn cobbled footsteps. Lido-friendly flip flops simply won’t do!
Walking route time: 1hr 15 (one way) Ascent: 275m
Difficulty rating: Intermediate (due to the series of cobbled steps)
Starting point: Griante-Cadenabbia
Finishing point: San Martino chapel (450m)
Connections: To reach the starting point, one can either drive, take the car-passenger ferry or take the C10 bus (before walking upto Griante’s church of San Rocco)
More Lake Como hikes to try-
The Antica Regina path from Santa Maria Rezzonico to Nobiallo - Menaggio (other trails available) - Greenway del Lago (Colonno to Griante) - Argegno to Pigra - Varenna to Castello di Vezio - Sentiero del Viandante, Varenna