Last year I described a pleasant but quite onerous walk to Torno from Como via the funicular to Brunate. The details of that walk still hold good (click here to access it under Recreation) but I have since been made aware of some easier alternatives to reaching Torno from Brunate by foot, so here goes.
If starting off from the funicular at Brunate then this walk involves little if no uphill stretches from the moment you step off the train to when you reach the lakeshore in Torno. But do bear in mind that this route is no quicker than going via the Faro and San Maurizio (that summit path avoids all of the many twists, turns and indentations from following the mountain’s contour). So if you don’t want to miss out on your normal cardio-vascular workout, forget about the funicular and walk up to Brunate. This will take you about one hour. The easiest of three possible paths is the one that goes via the San Donato sanctuary.
So the cardio-vascular-minded, if setting out from central Como, should climb from the Piazza del Popolo up Via Maurizio Monti passing the church of San Giuliano on your left.
Take the narrow alleyway directly ahead of you as the road turns to the right to form Via Zezio. Cross over Via Crispi and then take the path directly ahead of you. From this point on, if you ensure you always take any uphill option, you will arrive at San Donato where you turn left to pass by the sanctuary and continue to climb up to Brunate.
Follow the signs to the funicular where you can meet up with any less energetic members of your party. Now take the road just below the funicular terminus walking away from the cafes and following subsequent signs to the Campo Sportivo.
At the far end of the Campo Sportivo where the asphalt road ends in a small parking area, you will see the sign pointing to the Strada Regia. The Strada Regia is the ancient mule route from Como to Bellagio and it is walkable for about 35 kilometres. However we will only follow it for this initial stretch where the path starts a gradual descent. It soon becomes quite narrow but protected by wire guard rails wherever needed.
The narrow downhill section comes to an end after about 25 minutes at a junction where the Strada Regia continues descending to the sharp left but we follow the yellow signs from here on pointing to Monte Piatto.
This option keeps you on a higher altitude path to Torno via the mountain village community of Monte Piatto. The path keeps to the contours of the mountains until it starts its descent to Torno once you have arrived at Monte Piatto. As you follow this path, you will get glimpses through the trees of Cernobbio, the Villa D’Este and eventually, Moltrasio all on the other side of the lake. Progress northwards is however slow due to the many twists and turns through the water courses and canyons running down the mountain.
The path takes you mostly through woods populated at this time of year with plentiful bunches of primroses and violets. There are also many ‘erratics’ left behind by the retreating glaciers back in the very distant past. The largest of these is the so-called Sasso del Lupo which, according to legend, housed a ferocious but selective wolf who sated his hunger only on disobedient or naughty children. Fortunately the wolf has long gone and by the time you safely pass his lair, you are about 20 minutes away from Monte Piatto.
At Monte Piatto you are only 30 minutes from reaching the Torno lakeside by following the stepped path downhill. However you may wish to stop and eat here at the Trattoria. It is only normally open at weekends from midday to six but it will also open up during the week by prior arrangement for groups of 4 or more. In any case, it is always best to call ahead on 031 419446 if you intend to stop at this particularly relaxing and genuinely rustic baita.
As you reach the outer streets of Torno you will again see signs for the Strada Regia as it continues towards Pognana Lario – and eventually to Bellagio. Keep descending to the main square if you want to either eat at the Hotel Vapore on its glorious terrace or catch the ferry back to Como. If luxury, very stylish modern architecture and fine food are your thing, change out of your walking clothes, check the state of your credit card and visit the Hotel Sereno billed as ‘Europe’s most luxurious new hotel’.
Allow yourselves at least 1.5 hours to get from the start of the Strada Regia in Brunate to Monte Piatto and a further 30 minutes to get down to Torno.
Distance: 9.46 km
Time: 3.33 hours
Climb: 560 metres
Descent: 600 metres
Difficulty: Intermediate – Good fitness and sure footedness required