Day Trips from Milan
San Martino, Cadenabbia, Lake Como

San Martino

San Martino, Cadenabbia di Griante, Lake Como (475m. a.s.l.)
San Martino, Lake Como

San Martino
A tiny church improbably perched on a rocky outcrop, affording the most famous view across the central part of Lake Como ... this is San Martino. The climb up may be a little arduous in places, but the spectacular view is most certainly worth the effort. A trip to San Martino on a warm spring or autumn day combines exercise and memorable views, and the day can be completed with a visit to parks or gardens, a lakeside stroll or an enjoyable meal overlooking Lake Como.

Getting to Cadenabbia
Trains from Milan's Central Station leave for Varenna every day at 08:15 and 09:15. On Sundays there is a 10:10 train, and on weekdays a 12:15 train. The journey time takes just over an hour, stopping in Monza and Lecco. It's a short walk from Varenna train station down to the lakeside. From Easter to September, car ferries (that also take foot passengers) leave for Cadenabbia throughout the day, though it's very often necessary to change at Bellagio. For example, leaving Varenna at 10:55 and changing at Bellagio, the arrival time in Cadenabbia is 11:20 (winter services are less frequent). The stop in Bellagio may be a good opportunity to explore some of the town, visit the gardens or have a drink or lunch.
Ferries leave Cadenabbia (from Easter to September) about every half hour, and trains leave Varenna for Milan at 17:19 (only Sun), 18:22, 18:43 (Sun), 19:17 and 20:20. Be sure to buy train tickets at the newsagents before walking up to the station as the station is unmanned.
By car, from Como take the state road no. 340 round the western side of the lake in the direction Menaggio. Cadenabbia is 26 km from Como.

The Walk from Cadenabbia to San Martino
Cadenabbia is an elegant lakeside resort that runs on from Tremezzo to the south. There are numerous Belle Epoque villas surrounded by parks along all of the Lake Como lakeside and the lower slopes of the hills, but nowhere more so than at Cadenabbia and Griante. And lots of the villas have a history. The Villa Margherita-Ricordi, for example, was home to Verdi while he composed La Traviata. Adenauer and Queen Victoria both stayed in Cadenabbia.
It's a short walk from the Cadenabbia landing stage first along the main road and then uphill to the village of Griante with its old mediaeval houses and variety of villas. The 17th century parish church of Santi Naborre e Felice stands on the site of an earlier building and is decorated with some paintings from the school of Titian. Look out for some old frescos on the walls as you walk through Griante.
The road through Griante quickly leads to the well-signposted start of the walk towards the small church of San Martino (at 475 metres above sea level) standing on a rocky outcrop. It is easily visible from below. After crossing a small bridge, the walk becomes a bit steep in places (it's an uphill climb of about 275 metres, and about 2 kilometres in distance), but the path with steps is very easy and there are plenty of places to stop and take a breather. There are little wayside chapels to look at en route. Experienced walkers might reach the church in around 45 minutes, but a slow, enjoyable climb may take up to an hour and a half. The church of San Martino was built in the 1500s to contain a statue believed to have miraculous powers, and the site boasts one of the most famous and unforgettable views across Lake Como. Below, in the centre of the lake, is Bellagio, and the fork of the lake is dramatically visible. In the distance, on the far side, is the town of Varenna, and on a clear day there are views as far as the distant Alps.
A pause at the church is compulsory, to admire the view, to have a drink or a picnic (the goats might help you eat anything you have brought), or to do a spot of sunbathing on a warm day. Experienced climbers might wish to climb up to the Sasso Martino peak (862 metres), but the mule track is much more difficult from here on.
The walk back is by the same route, but a deviation may be made in Griante to see a bit more of the village and pass by some different villas.

Map of Cadenabbia and Griante showing start of walk to San Martino
Start of Walk to San Martino

And While in Varenna or Bellagio
Varenna offers a short walk to the source of the Fiumelatte river, or a longer walk-cum-climb to the castle of Vezio. A stroll along the lakeside walk is delightful. To the south of the town are the Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi (both with lakeside gardens open to the public). The parish church of San Giorgio is interesting, and the town also has a museum of stuffed birds (limited opening).
Bellagio offers walks along the lake front, swimming and sunbathing in the lido, attractive shops, lakeside bars and cafes, parks and walks. The gardens of Villa Serbelloni (guided tours only at 10:30 and 16:00 approx., closed Mon.) and Villa Melzi d'Eril are both open to the public. A walk to the tip of the promontory (Punta Spartivento) or across to the village of Pescallo are both very worthwhile.

Useful Information
Como Tourist Information Office - Piazza Cavour 17, Como (CO) - tel 031 262091
Cadenabbia-Griante Tourist Information Office - Via Regina 33b, Cadenabbia (CO) - tel 0344 40393
Varenna Tourist Information Office - Via Venini 6, Varenna (LC) - tel 0341 830367
Bellagio Tourist Information Office - Piazza della Chiesa 14, Bellagio (CO) - tel 031 950204
Lake Como website:
Cadenabbia website:
Lake Navigation Service - Via Ariosto 21, Milano - tel 02 4676101 - website:
Ferrovie dello Stato (State Railways) - tel 848 888088 - website:

Food and Drink
Varenna and Bellagio have numerous bars, cafes and restaurants; the choice is not so great in Cadenabbia. Some of the better restaurants include:
Ristorante Belle Isole - Via Regina 25, Cadenabbia (CO) - tel 0344 41003
Vecchia Varenna - Via Scoscesa 10, Varenna (LC) - tel 0341 830793
Hotel Suisse (restaurant) - Piazza Mazzini 8-10, Bellagio (CO) - tel 031 950335
Bilacus - Salita Serbelloni 9, Bellagio (CO) - tel 031 950480
La Pergola - Pescallo di Bellagio (CO) - tel 031 950263 (in Pescallo, 10 mins walk from Bellagio)
Da Silvio - Via Carcano 12, Bellagio (CO) - tel 031 950322 (in Loppia, just to the south of Bellagio)
La Barchetta - Salita Mella 13, Bellagio (CO) - tel 031 951389
La Punta - Punta Spartivento 19, Bellagio (CO) - tel 031 951888

© Nigel J. Ross, 2004 (no liability accepted)




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