This walk is a further step out on the ancient Via Regina on the west side of Lake Como. Readers may wish to combine this walk with the stretch from Laglio to Moltrasio described elsewhere on the blog. But this stretch is very different in nature. It is a bit more challenging not because the terrain is any steeper because the path is narrow in parts and rather poorly signposted at critical moments. This walk is definitely an adventure but one with many rewards!
As with the Laglio to Moltrasio stretch, I decided to head out from Como by bus (C10 or C20) and walk back south. Brienno is a delightful small town whose size is limited by the steep terrain on either side of the gullies cut by the three mountain streams that come together here. This part of the Via Regina starts from the middle of the old town rising quickly up on a stepped path. You soon leave the built-up old town of Brienno and are immersed in unspoilt countryside. You soon begin to appreciate how different this stretch is from the extension to Moltrasio. The steepness of the lower slopes of Mount Comana don’t allow for any suburban development. Instead you are more likely to come across abandoned ancient crofts or small agricultural nuclei such as Torriggia which you will go through later on.
The steepness of the slopes also has created a number of gullies cut by the mountain streams descending sharply to the lake. On many of these you see steel hawser netting placed to hold back the rock and wood detritus cut by rampaging flood water presumably to protect motorists travelling along the superstrada below.
Whilst from Laglio to Moltrasio you pass through suburban or well-maintained terraced countryside, here you are more likely just to find the remnants of old terracing, with the greenery impinging on the walkway. It is true to say that in some parts, the old Via Regina appears totally lost as you are constrained to take narrow paths around the base of ancient terraces until you regain the cobbled and walled evidence of the ancient way.
You should be following the signs for ‘I Cammini della Regina’ as found from Laglio to Moltrasio or the signs for path No. 1.
The Cammini della Regina signs are less common but there are the standard signs pointing you in the direction of Torriggia and then on to Laglio. The quality of the signs depends on which path out of Brienno you take. I recommend you take the path opposite from the church and the war memorial with signs pointing to Campo Sportivo. You will then soon pick up on the painted white and red flashes with the number 1. This starts you off on the Sentiero Botanico described elsewhere on this site. When you reach the unmissable chapel dedicated to Sant’Antonio Abate, ignore the right hand fork and continue straight ahead.
The path is maintained so even if it gets narrow in parts, it will persist.
At about just under half way from Brienno, the path comes out on to a tarmacked road. Follow it down to the next curve where you will see the path signposted again on the right hand side indicating Monti di Torriggia and the Buco d’Orso. Continue in the direction of Torriggia. When you get to the small hamlet of Torriggia, note and follow the sign for ‘I Cammini della Regina’ on the path to the left of the frescoed painting in the photo. If you follow the red or blue paint flashes, it will lead you up to the mountain community of Torriggia although an alternative route to Laglio does exist if you take the very first path on your left having climbed up and around the corner shown in the photo.
The route here seems well defined but all of a sudden you come across some terracing that throws all into disarray. There are painted flashes (see photo) that lead you in the right direction but the path does deteriorate even further just in front of a mountain hut that is being redeveloped. The actual path follows the back of this hut on the narrow upper ledge of the terracing. It appears to end in a bush but pull the branches apart and you will see the path continues clearly on the other side. Ignore the temptation to attempt a tricky crossing of a small gully in order to take the clearly defined path running to the front of the renovated house.
The narrow path that you are now on (which looks unlikely to ever have formed part of the critical transalpine route of the Via Regina) will eventually appear to be running parallel and slightly above what looks very like an ancient mule path. And in due course, you join this mule path to continue south into the delightful old hamlet on the edges of Laglio known as Germanello.
As you come into Germanello, a path to your right will take you up to the mountain community of Germanello (Monti di Germanello) whilst the route straight on passes this fascinating fresco (see photo). Your route now descends on the Via di Germanello, going under the main ‘superstrada’ following a series of chapels depicting the stages of the cross until you join the lakeside road right by a chapel dedicated to the saint of plague, San Rocco.
You can at this point congratulate yourself on successfully completing your adventure and will be in need of some form of ‘restoration’. Laglio offers a variety of options for eating and drinking or, if time is on your side, why not walk down the lakeside road going south until you reach the harbour and pick up the Via Verde to Moltrasio as described elsewhere. Otherwise take the road in a northerly direction for a swim off Laglio’s delightful beach.
Allow two hours for the stretch from Brienno to Laglio and a further 90 minutes if you intend to carry on to Moltrasio. If going all the way, reward yourself with a glorious risotto, pizza or lake fish at the highly recommended Cooperativa Moltresino just behind Moltrasio’s church.
Follow this link for more information on the Via Regina.
Distance: 4.12 km
Time: 1.22 hours
Climb: 190 metres
Descent: 190 metres
Difficulty: Intermediate – Good for all fitness levels but sure-footedness is required.