This is an excerpt from the book “Lake Como” by Enrico Massetti. You can buy the full book here.

Menaggio square
Menaggio square – Photo © michelle_middleton_photography

Getting to Menaggio

This boat route runs along the center of Lake Como, with a possible stop in either direction in Bellagio.

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Menaggio historic itinerary

Menaggio has various historical monuments which recall its importance through the ages. It was a town of note in ancient times because of its privileged geographical position, at the point where the Via Regina (road bordering the western side of the lake) met the road leading through the Val Menaggio to Lugano and the valley of Ticino.

The itinerary starts in Piazza Garibaldi, where you pick up Via Calvi and halfway up the street on the right you find the church S.Marta.

On the facade, you can see the Roman memorial plaque of Minicio Exorato, a notable of the empire; above it the town-arms. Inside the church, there are some interesting paintings of the 17th-century.

At the end of Via Calvi is the parish church of S.Stefano of very ancient origins whose original Roman structures have however been lost; in fact, the orientation itself is in the opposite direction of its first setting.

The church has three naves which, in 1899, were covered with frescoes by a local artist named Tagliaferri. Quite noteworthy is the one of the martyr Santo Stefano located in the vault of the apse. In the rectory, two works by the painter Castelli from Menaggio. Above the altar of the Madonna, at the front of the left nave, you find a copy of a painting by Bernardino Luino depicting Maria with Jesus and an angel.


Menaggio - Photo © missyasmina

The original painting was given to France when this part of Italy was under French domination, with the promise that the district court would be brought from Tremezzo to Menaggio; the original work is now at the Louvre. The altar is surrounded by copper medallions representing scenes from Madonna’s life. In the middle of the right nave, there is a large painting of San Giorgio, but the artist is unknown. The altar of “Il Sacro Cuore” is embellished with stuccoes of the 17th century by the “maestri intelvesi” (famous sculptors and craftsmen of the Val d’Intelvi who passed their experience from father to son and worked all over Europe).

When you come out of the church you turn right into Via Caronti, then at the end of the street turn right into Via Leoni. After 30 m you turn left into Via Catellino da Castello. This street leads to the upper part of Menaggio town where the castle once stood. On the way, you pass some beautiful portals. On the corner with Via Strecioum stands the native house of P. Gabriel Malagrida, a Jesuit who was martyred in Lisbon in 1761 under the despotic regime of Pombal.

The “Castello” of today gives only a faint idea of how it was in the middle ages. It was in fact destroyed in 1523 by the Signori delle Leghe Grigie (Graubundener). Left intact are parts of its massive perimeter walls which you can admire at various points.

The houses in the upper part of Via Castellini da Castello follow the original contours of the castle. On the facade of house number 54, there are two medieval sculptures from the XI century, a winged feline, and a bust.


Street in Menaggio
Street in Menaggio

Above the ruins of the ancient castle, you find the church S.Carlo which was built in 1614 on order of Cinzio Calvi so that he and his wife could have their tombs in it. The church has a typical Spanish style bell tower a reminder of the period of Spanish domination in the 15-16th century. The bell tower can be seen from the center of town.

When you reach the end of the street, you continue to the left and follow Via N. Sauro. After only 20 m you pick up the road, just before a small parking lot, that runs right below the walls of the castle. Just past another small car park, you pick up Via Fabbri. At the beginning of the street, on the left, on the top of a gate, there is a sculpture of the 12th century representing the head of the bull of San Luca.

Then a bit further down on the left there is a fountain called “Del Salvatore.” Above it, there is a bust in relief of the 12th century which has unfortunately been damaged by time.

At the end of Via Fabbri, you end up again in Via Castellino da Castello which you follow down to the right for ca. 10 m and then you pick up Via Strecioum to the left.

At the end of the street continue a few meters, and you come to one of the most picturesque bridges over the river Senagra. In the middle of the bridge, you can admire a relief by Vannunccini (1965) and on the right the chapel dedicated to the Madonna di Caravaggio.


Lake promenade
Lake promenade

Turn back and then left into Via Loveno and left again into Via Leoni which you follow to the end. Cross Via Lusardi, passing in front of the little church San Rocco, built in 1772, and pick up Via Roma which leads along the entrance of the Lido of Menaggio constructed in 1934 with its big beach and swimming pool and seat of the fascinating Museum Leonardo da Vinci, open from March till December every day from 10.00 till 21.00 tel. 335 465186. The walk continues along Lungo Lago Benedetto Castelli.

Here you find the monument by Francesco Somaini 10, dedicated to the women silk weavers, donated to the town of Menaggio by the Mantero family, owners of several silk mills, among the one on the river Senagra. It is made of Carrara Marble and represents a hymn to the weaving culture of Como, in which work, art, and management ability are melted and mixed, following the centuries-old tradition which has made Como one of the silk capitals of the world.

You continue your way on the lovely lakeside promenade where you can enjoy the beauty of the landscape which has made the fortune of the area. You pass the Grand Hotel Victoria built in 1885, and then you’ll find yourself back in Piazza Garibaldi.

Where to stay in Bellagio

There are hotels, apartments, villas and condo hotels available, check it out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Menaggio

There are hotels, apartments, villas and condo hotels available, check it out and make a reservation here.

This is an excerpt from the book “Lake Como” by Enrico Massetti. You can buy the full book here.