Do you love strolling along woodland paths in the midst of unspoiled nature, inhaling the earthy countryside air and listening to birdsong?
There are numerous places near Milan with walks and trails suitable for all levels of ramblers, from the most experienced walkers to novices or family groups.
There are also no shortage of walking trails up to panoramic terraces from which to view the stunning breath-taking vistas.
Packing the correct equipment is essential: don't forget your hiking boots, a waterproof jacket, water bottle, hat, trail map, sunglasses and sunscreen. Trekking poles are also helpful for keeping your balance and for tackling climbs or descents.
THE PROVINCE OF SONDRIO (VALCHIAVENNA, VALTELLINA AND VAL MASINO)
The Acquafraggia waterfalls
Even Leonardo da Vinci was impressed by the spectacular Acquafraggia waterfalls who, “finding himself passing through Valle di Chiavenna”, was awed by their wild beauty and mentioned them in his “Codex Atlanticus” travel journal.
The Acquafraggia torrent overcomes a height difference of 1800 metres with various drops to form a series of cascades. In fact, the name of Latin origin “Acqua Fracta”, means water ‘broken’ or ‘split’ by waterfalls.
The last two drops create a particularly beautiful double waterfall which can also be admired from the valley floor, near the town of Borgonuovo di Piuro, where the torrent flows into the river Mera.
Several pleasant hiking trails start from the Acquafraggia waterfalls.
Val di Mello, the “Little Yosemite”
The Val di Mello Nature Reserve is the largest protected area in Lombardy, and a precious corner of paradise as yet unaffected by mass tourism.
Indeed, the road to Val di Mello is open but with limited access to traffic: a maximum of 40 vehicles per day may enter upon purchase of a special PASS.
It is an uncontaminated place of rare beauty with sparkling streams, waterfalls, crystal-clear ponds and lush greenery that contrasts with the mountain rocks.
THE PROVINCE OF VARESE
Valganna – Sacro Monte di Varese
Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Sacro Monte di Varese is a devotional path consisting of fourteen chapels, dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary, which winds along the monumental avenue and ascends to the village of Santa Maria del Monte, where the fifteenth and last chapel is hidden (the XV mystery is celebrated inside the sanctuary).
This Via Sacra is a two-kilometre cobbled road which can only be climbed on foot.
Campo dei Fiori - Campo dei Fiori 360° project
The Campo dei Fiori Regional Park has created the new “Campo dei Fiori 360°” project, a trail that connects seven of the park’s most evocative viewpoints.
Signage is strategically placed the along the route giving directions and describing the most interesting destinations.
A virtual preview of all these viewpoints is available on a dedicated website.
Atop of Campo dei Fiori, at a height of 1230 metres, the Citadel of Sciences of Nature comprises the G. V. Schiaparelli Astronomical Observatory, the Prealpine Geophysical Centre and the R. Tomaselli Giardino Montano for the protection and conservation of biodiversity.
PANORAMIC VIEWPOINTS AND WALKS WITH LAKE VIEWS
Lake Como (Valsassina and Valvarrone)
Piani di Artavaggio (Valsassina)
Piani di Artavaggio, a well-known mountain resort in Valsassina, is a very popular destination due to several recreational opportunities in nature with summer walking trails.
Located at a height between 1600 and 1900 in the municipality of Moggio, it offers splendid views of the mountains around Lake Como.
Easily reachable with a cable car from Moggio, or with a relaxed walk of about 3 hours.
Legnone and Legnoncino (Tremenico - Valvarrone)
At a height of 2609 metres Legnone is the highest peak of the Orobie Prealps in the province of Lecco, an extremely satisfying conquest for hikers who reach its summit. From the top it offers an exceptional 360 ° panorama over a large area of the Alps. The last stretch of the route to reach the summit becomes challenging so the ridge is equipped with fixed ropes.
Route: From the Roccoli Lorla Refuge 1463m - Alpe Agrogno 1644m - Cà de Legn 2180m - Monte Legnone 2609m.
At 1714m Monte Legnoncino is an easy walk, particularly suitable for families with small children. Starting from Rifugio Roccoli Lorla at 1463m, the summit can be reached along an easily accessible old military road in about an hour.
After a slight slope and a few hairpin bends, you reach a small terrace overlooking the lake, with a few picnic tables and benches. The view is already spectacular from this point, but the summit can be reached with a little extra effort.
Lake Iseo - Monte Isola
This mountain stands 600m high on an island and is a gem of extraordinary natural beauty surrounded by Lake Iseo.
With a total area of 4.5 km², it is the biggest lake island in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.
Following the international success of The Floating Piers - Christo's best known and most popular installation which attracted more than one and a half million visitors - tranquillity has finally been restored to this 100% car-free island.
Monte Isola, one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”, is truly breath-taking, and can be discovered on foot or by bicycle.
An unmissable experience is the ascent to the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola, one of the most panoramic places on Lake Iseo, with a 360° view of its coasts and the surrounding mountains, up to the gentle hills of Franciacorta and beyond.
A scheduled minibus transports visitors close to the Sanctuary but we recommend walking the route, along two of the wonderful paths that wind around the island.
Lake Maggiore - Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso
Picturesquely clinging to a rock face directly overhanging Lake Maggiore, the Sanctuary of Santa Caterina del Sasso is a charming and intriguing destination.
Created around a cave in which a merchant, who escaped a storm on the lake, took refuge and lived as a hermit in the 13th century, it has become one of Verbano’s most renown religious landmarks.
The Hermitage can be accessed from the car park in the piazza above, by descending a panoramic staircase of 268 steps or by climbing a flight of eighty steps up from the lake. A lift is also available for those with mobility problems, which can be accessed near the car park.
1. Brunate - “Balcone sulle Alpi” - The Balcony of the Alps
The funicular railway leaves Como lakeside every 30 minutes and, overcoming an altitude difference of circa 500 metres, it is a short trip up to Brunate.
This charming town is located at 700m and has traditionally been a holiday destination for the nobility from Como and Milan who constructed numerous Art Nouveau villas here.
The entire western Alpine arc, the Po Valley and the Apennines can be admired from the Belvedere.
Brunate is also the starting point for pleasant walks into the surrounding countryside.
A short stroll leads to the Voltiano Lighthouse, an octagonal tower erected on the summit on the occasion of the centenary of the death of Alessandro Volta.
Plenty of restaurants line the route especially “polenterie” serving hearty polenta dishes.
2. Sighignola - the “Balcone d'Italia” in Val d'Intelvi – Balcony of Italy
Located on the border between Italy and Switzerland, this natural panoramic terrace on the Italian side (Balcony of Italy) offers a spectacular view of the Alps and the underlying Lake Lugano.
Starting from Argegno, you can pass through the villages of Dizzasco, Castiglione Intelvi and San Fedele until you reach Lanzo and then the Sighignola summit.
Once arrived at the top, you will find a free parking area, and all that remains now is to sit on a bench on the Balcony of Italy - at 1,320 m - to relax and admire the view.
3. Piani Resinelli - "Belvedere della Valsassina"
Piani Resinelli is a vast plateau at a height of between 1200 and 1300m which is approximately a 30-minute drive from Lecco.
The town is located at the foot of the Grignetta peak and is an expanse of meadows set amongst beech, birch and conifer woodlands.
The trail starts from Piani Resinelli, behind the tower block, and the Belvedere viewpoint can be reached with an easy 30-minute walk, suitable for families and novices.
It is an iron trapezoid suspended several meters high for a spectacular view of Lecco and its lakes.
4. Dossena - Il Ponte nel Sole - the Val Brembana Tibetan Bridge
You can enjoy the unique experience of walking suspended in the void on the longest Tibetan Bridge in the world.
Be impressed by the magnificent vista of the Orobic Pre-alps landscapes, with the peaks of the Grigna, Gioco and Alben mountains, and the San Pellegrino valley floor.
The car park is located in the centre of the village, and the starting point for the bridge can be reached along the path that sets off from the town.
The duration of the route is estimated at about 40 minutes: access is limited to children under the age of 12 (or with a height of less than 140 cm).
Sportswear and comfortable footwear are highly recommended.
IL CANTON TICINO E LA VAL VERZASCA
The Sentierone della Val Verzasca is one of the Ticino’s most popular walks.
Relatively unknown until recently, today is literally besieged by visitors, especially in the summer season, due to the incredible beauty of the river’s clear emerald waters, known as “the Maldives of Milan”, for a refreshing break from the summer heat.
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