The ancient Regina road, which ran along the western shore of the lake, was traced in Roman times and was one of the most important transit routes, as it allowed a rapid connection between the Po Valley and the other side of the Alps.
Here we follow a well-preserved stretch of the ancient road that leads from Menaggio to the historic centre of Rezzonico, an itinerary that allows us to discover little known but beautiful corners of the western shore of Lake Como.
Itinerary: Menaggio - Nobiallo - Sasso Rancio - Acquaseria - Molvedo - Santa Maria - Rezzonico
Length: 9.7 km
Duration: 3 hours and 30 minutes (excluding stops)
Height difference: from 207 m of Nobiallo to 348 m of Sasso Rancio
Sign: red/white notches
Route conditions: paved road, dirt road, short asphalt sections. Passable in every season.
- Nobiallo: leaning bell tower of the 13th century, Sanctuary of the Madonna della Pace;
- S. Maria Rezzonico: Parish Church of S. Maria, Late Roman Fortress, Castle (not open to visitors).
Starting point: Menaggio.
How to reach Menaggio: from Como with the Navigation Service, by hydrofoil, in about 40 minutes, or by boat in 2 hours and 10 minutes; or by bus with the ASF C-10 Como-Colico line in one hour and 15 minutes.
How to reach Nobiallo: from the central Piazza Garibaldi follow the lakeside promenade to Lido di Menaggio and then continue on Via Roma. After about 50 m take Via Cipressi. After passing the entrance of the camping Europa the street comes out on the main road. Continue along the pavement on the right.
At the entrance of the tunnel, take the cycle/pedestrian road on the right. On the wall overhanging towards the lake you can see the climbing wall equipped by the CAI of Menaggio. Once you reach the main road again, cross it and continue on the pavement until you take the small road that goes up to the Carabinieri barracks. From here follow the sign for the Vecchia Strada Regina.
Going along the Church of SS. Bartolomeo and Nicola with its Romanesque leaning bell tower of the XIII century, you enter the town of Nobiallo.
Continuing on the Antica Regina you cross a beautiful bridge that dates back to the second half of the 14th century and is called "della Madonna" because it leads to the nearby Sanctuary of S. Anna or Sanctuary of the Madonna della Pace.
The Sanctuary was built in 1658 on the occasion of the Peace of the Pyrenees, signed between France and Spain. This devotion is probably due to the fact that at that time the Lario was under Spanish domination in whose armies many Como's soldiers militated.
From here the route climbs the Sasso Rancio, so called for the reddish colour of the ferruginous rocks.
"The colour between red and yellow, derived from the ferruginous parts where the rock is impregnated, made these steep cliffs impose the name of Sasso Rancio", writes Davide Bertolotti in the book "Il Sasso Rancio. Historical Tale of Davide Bertolotti".
It is a bumpy and arid cliff overhanging the lake, forcing the wayfarers to a hard climb not free of danger.
Climb up to 350 m, passing above Villa la Gaeta, an Art Nouveau villa completed in 1921 and built by the Ambrosoli family in the form of a medieval-Renaissance castle. Here some scenes from the film series of 007 "Casino Royale" were shot.
We continue along the coast of the mountain to arrive at the old road, replaced by the new section excavated in a tunnel.
From here, since a section of the original route has been missing, you have to pay attention.
After having walked about 200 metres along the lakeside promenade of the old disused state road, it is necessary to proceed (with caution) for a few tens of metres along the current S.S. 340.
When you reach the entrance of the Sassoldo tunnel, turn right onto the disused road where you will find a path that, climbing above the tunnel itself, will bring you back to the original route.
The old road becomes gentle and goes through plateaus and vineyards and olive groves.
The first houses you meet are those of Acquaseria. You cross the bridge over the river Serio and enter the town centre.
Once in front of the church of S. Abbondio, continue along via Regina Margherita and at the end of the village, at a fork, turn right (on the left the road goes up to Pezzo). The little road becomes a cobblestone road that leads to the village of Molvedo.
In Molvedo the track is interrupted by the park of Villa Camilla.
Villa Camilla is a splendid 19th century villa that has always belonged to the Marquises of Rozzano.
The interiors of the Villa are of rare beauty: mosaic floors, wooden stairs, statues and frescoes, paintings of the late nineteenth century. The park with an authentic English garden houses secular plants: maples, redwoods, magnolias, Chilean araucaria, Japanese cedars and bamboo.
To get around it, go up to Mastena, taking the mule track on the left at the end of the cobblestones that connects Acquaseria with Molvedo, at the height of an old Enel cabin.
Once in Mastena, turn right and walk through the centre. When you reach the Cellino stream, cross the small bridge and go down to the right, crossing the asphalted road twice. At the end of the small road, continue on the left to reach an oratory.
We recommend a small diversion towards the lake to admire the church of Santa Maria which was built between 1464 and 1474 to give home to the Dominicans.
On the façade there is a beautiful portal in white marble and inside there is a thick pictorial decoration. Next to the church you can see the ruins of an ancient Roman fortress that was probably used to control traffic by land and water.
Returning to the oratory the old route is resumed. Beyond the carriage road to the high hamlets of Santa Maria, continue along the Antica Strada between small fields and wall borders. Before reaching Rezzonico, you pass on the right the "Castellaccio" which is what remains of a low medieval tower.
The area is equipped with a fountain and picnic tables.
The cobblestones go down to Rezzonico, a hamlet of San Siro that rises on a rocky promontory, overlooked by the size of the 14th century castle built by the noble and illustrious Della Torre family. Very suggestive are the stairways and the vaulted passages of the village that descend to the arcaded houses, almost touched by the waves of the lake.
Cross the old state road and take the stairway that goes down to the lake shore, where the picturesque pier is located.
Passed under the arcades, you go up the stairs and arrive at the castle.
It was a "castle-fence", i.e. an area of about two thousand square metres with a walled perimeter that contained the dwellings and the main tower. More than a real castle, therefore, it consisted of a fortification work extended to the entire town.
It probably replaced a previous fortification of the village of Rezzonico, whose remains are still visible in a few fragments of the boundary wall and two access gates to the nearby town.
Today the castle is characterized by the high medieval tower with battlements.
From the castle you head towards the main road where the bus stop is located.