Europe > Italy > Northwest Italy > Lombardy > Lake Como > Esino Lario
Esino Lario is a mountain village in the Esino valley, between Lake Como and Valsassina in the Province of Lecco, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. The village has a history of tourism that started in the late 19th century with scientists fascinated by the karst phenomena of the Grigna mountains and searching for fossils and the almost 500 caves of Moncodeno. From this early tourism a number of small hotels, restaurants and villas were built. Tourism developed greatly in the 1960s and 1970s. Today Esino Lario – 12 km above Lake Como and connected to Valsassina – is a special location for summer mountain holidays and a starting point for excursions in the Grigna mountains and the Regional Northern Grigna Park.
The peculiarity of Esino Lario is its position in a sunny mountain basin at an elevation of around 910 m, with a pleasant microclimate and "good air", as the historical tourism leaflets would advertise, particularly to families with children. The landscape is diverse, with the charming historical streets of the two centers of Upper Esino (Esino superiore) and Lower Esino (Esino inferiore), with the high peaks of the limestone Grigna mountains (with excursions from Cainallo), with the gentle walks in the woods (with excursions from Ortanella) and with spectacular views of Lake Como from the lawn in front of San Pietro Church in Ortanella, from Passo di Narele and from the mountains (Grigne, San Defendante, Monte Croce). For its variety of landscapes, for its position in the heart of the Grigna mountains and for its sunny and pleasant position, Esino Lario is sometimes referred to as the 'Pearl of Grigna'.
Esino Lario has documented archaeological finds from the 5th century BC onwards, and a territory that presents very visible traces of the Alpine orogeny – fossils, almost 500 caves, sinkholes and erratic boulders. The village was on the path of the Strada del Viandante (road wanderer), connecting the villages of the eastern shore of Lake Como. Before the 18th century, and the construction of the road along the lake, to travel the territory from south to north, the road would go up from Lierna to Ortanella in Esino Lario. The village was also connected to Valsassina, a large valley with a strong production of iron; Esino was part of the Squadra dei monti (team of the mountains) proving wood and charcoal for the iron industry.
Don Giovanni Battista Rocca (1892-1965), son of silk producers from Brianza and vicar of Esino from 1927 to his death, also undertook some initiatives to advance the Esino region and the historic and social features that identify it. He established the Museum of the Grigne and in 1936 started Esino's Tapestry School.
Since the Middle Ages, Lombardy has been famous for the production of wool fabrics and later, silk fabrics. There were many spinning mills around Lake Como in the 1800s, and women contributed to their family's income by leaving home every morning, even from far away villages like Esino, to walk to the lake shores to work in the mills. The situation changed at the beginning of the 19th century, when demands and rhythms evolved after scientific and technological breakthroughs. Don Rocca asked himself how Esino's people could adapt the local tradition of weaving to the modernization of that period. So he started the Tapestry School. Women from Esino used their own silken threads to make tapestries, while the drawings were sketched by famous artists. So, just like the most famous artists from the Renaissance, theirs were true works of art used to furnish and decorate living rooms and meeting places and they received prizes in the Art Exhibition of Decorative Art in Milan (Triennale). During Wikimania 2016, some of the tapestries are being exhibited in Esino.
Don Rocca's personal passion for science, botany, agriculture and activities linked to the agrarian society inspired him to revive potato growing in Esino's valley. The climate in the valley facilitated the cultivation of a particular kind of tuber, known as the "white potato of Esino" or "biancona of Esino", characterized by a rounded shape; its white and mealy texture is particularly good for dumplings and the traditional Esinese stuffing for ravioli.
Esino Lario, like most of Valsassina, features a humid temperate climate, cooler than in the Po Valley due to the higher elevation. In Barzio, the nearest weather station (elevation 770 m/2,500 ft - Esino Lario has an elevation of about 100 m higher), mean annual temperature is around 10°C/50°F (compared, for example, with around 13°C/55°F in Milan). Precipitation is abundant, with more than 1,700 mm (55 inches) falling in an average year. Rain is frequent in every season, with a little minimum in winter when there can be snowfall. As in most temperate areas, there are prolonged and well-defined intermediate seasons.
Summers are moderate, with frequent rain showers and thunderstorms. Mean summer temperature is around 19°C (66°F), higher in July and August, and slightly lower in June; even during the most intense heat waves, anyway, maximum temperatures very rarely exceed 32°C (90°F). Winters are quite mild; the average temperature for December, January and February is around 1-2°C (34-35°F), more or less the same temperature recorded in the Po Valley at much lower elevations. This is due to the phenomenon of inversion (a deviation from the normal atmospheric behavior, where temperature increases with elevation) frequently observed in midwinter when subtropical high-pressure systems reach northern Italy. Anyway, winters can become snowy, as extratropical cyclones carry moist and cool air from North Atlantic.
Esino Lario is 12 km by road and a climb of 900 m from Varenna. The nearest major city is Milan. You can reach the village by car, bus, taxi, bike or by foot; there is no airport. Two provincial roads reach it: one from Varenna and one from Bellano-Parlasco (Strada della Valsassina).
- Varenna to Esino. The road from Varenna is the shortest. It passes through Perledo and for the most part you go up the mountains looking at the lake. The road is quite narrow, with a number of hairpin bends. When coming by train (from Milan, Bergamo, Lecco, Valtellina, Valchiavenna, Switzerland) or by boat from other villages of Lake Como, this is the most suitable and direct road. A regular bus line connects the railway station called Varenna Esino to Esino Lario; the buses have up to 35 seats. It is not unusual to pass excursionists with mountain bikes on the way to Esino.
- Parlasco to Esino. The road from Bellano-Parlasco (Strada della Valsassina) connects Esino to Valsassina. The road is also a good option if you are coming by car or by private bus from Milan, Bergamo, Lecco, Valtellina, Valchiavenna and Switzerland; from the superstrada you can get off in Bellano and follow for Valsassina, Parlasco and Esino Lario; this option is a little longer than Varenna-Esino but the road is wider, with fewer hairpin turns and traffic in the summer and during weekends, and with a spectacular view of Lake Como and Esino Lario at Sasso di Narele. Also excursionists with mountain bikes appreciate this way to Esino.
The most convenient airports are Milano Malpensa (MXP), Milano Linate (LIN) and Milano-Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGY).
The nearest railway station is Varenna Esino, actually located in the territory of Perledo and a very short walking distance from Varenna boat station and Varenna centre. Trains come to the station from the line Milan, Lecco (connected to the line to Bergamo), Colico (connected to the line to Valchiavenna), Morbegno, Sondrio and Tirano (Valtellina). Trains from Milan's main railway stations (Milan stazione centrale - central station for direct trains and Milano Porta Garibaldi for regional trains) to Varenna Esino take 1 hour and 5 minutes. From the railway station there is a public bus service to Esino Lario; buses are not available for every train, but when available they wait for the train.
From Switzerland, the fastest rail travel option is usually the route via Monza (near Milan; 5 to 6 hours to Varenna Esino from Zürich). Another option is using the Rhaetian Railway via Chur to Tirano and then taking the train from Tirano to Varenna Esino. From Zürich, this takes 7 to 8 hours, so considerably longer than the Monza/Milan route. However, this is a chance to travel via the UNESCO World Heritage Albula and Bernina lines (another option is to skip the Albula line and take a train through the Vereina tunnel, via Klosters). Also, as the Swiss GA travelcard is valid on the Rhaetian Railway till Tirano, this route might actually be a cheap option for holders of this card, only needing a ticket from Tirano to Varenna Esino. The regular prices of the Swiss railways are rather steep, however.
- Rule of thumb: For the Albula line, take train from Chur to Samedan via Filisur, change at Samedan to Pontresina; in Pontresina, take the Bernina line train to Tirano. For the Vereina line, take train from Landquart to St. Moritz via Klosters/Zernez; in St. Moritz, take the Bernina line train to Tirano.
- In Tirano, the Italian railway station is separate from the Rhaetian Railway's station, but the two stations are very close to each other (at the same square).
- Connections from Switzerland to Varenna-Esino can be found at the Swiss Federal Railway's web site. Most standard results are via Monza; if you wish to take the alternate route, enter Chur (for Albula) or Landquart (for Vereina) and Tirano as via stations.
There is a public bus line connecting Esino Lario to Perledo, Varenna and Bellano. In Varenna the bus stops at the Varenna Esino railway station. The service is meant for school students (from Esino to the railway station Varenna Esino and to Bellano where there is the secondary school) and commuters (from Esino to the railway station Varenna Esino) and the schedule is designed accordingly. The bus timetable reports 40 minutes from Varenna Esino station to Esino Lario. In Esino Lario there are two main bus stops, in Piazza Gulfi and Piazza Italia; during the summer the bus also stops in Ortanella and during winter the bus stops in some other villages to collect students.
- From Milan (80 km, around 1 hour 45 or 2 hours) and from Lecco (35 km, around 50 minutes - 1 hour). Take the SS36 Spluga (superstrada) in the direction of Sondrio.
- Exit Abbadia Lariana - passing through Varenna. After Lecco, take the exit Abbadia Lariana (Lago SP72), continue through Mandello, Olcio, Lierna and Fiumelatte. Once you arrive in Varenna, pass through the village and follow the direction for Esino Lario (right). The street (panoramic) passes through Perledo and reaches Esino Lario.
- Exit Bellano - passing through Parlasco (panoramic street).
- Exit Valsassina - passing through Cortenova and Parlasco.
- From Colico on Lake Como (40 km, 50 minutes). Take the SP72 along the Lake in the direction of Lecco. Once you arrive in Varenna follow the direction towards the centre and follow for Esino Lario (right, before entering the centre).
- From Varenna on Lake Como (12 km – 20 minutes) follow the direction for Esino Lario; the street for Esino Lario is in front of the street for the boat station and towards the Varenna Esino railway station and Perledo.
- From Barzio in Valsassina (30 km – 40 minutes). Take the SP62; in Cortenova turn on the SP65 towards Parlasco and follow the direction for Esino Lario.
- From Lugano in Ticino, Switzerland. Take the street to Porlezza and Menaggio. In Menaggio you can take the street along the Lake to Varenna (passing through Gravedona and Colico) or you can take a boat with transport of car to Varenna. Follow the directions from Varenna to Esino Lario.
There are no taxi companies in Esino Lario; taxi can be found in Varenna and Perledo and at the Varenna Esino station. A ride by taxi to Esino Lario from Varenna Esino station is around €30.
- Vittorio Ongania Auto Pubblica Taxi, Piazza della Stazione a Perledo, ☏ .
- Ruggero Maglia Servizio Taxi, Via Statale 45 a Varenna, ☏ .
- Enrico Faggi Servizio Taxi, Via Per Esino 81 a Perledo, ☏ .
From Varenna you can sail on Lake Como to many destinations, including Abbadia Lariana, Argegno, Bellagio, Bellano, Careno, Cernobbio, Colico, Como, Gravedona, Isola Comacina, Lecco, Mandello, Menaggio, Piona, Pognana, Torno and Tremezzo. The ferry boats between Varenna, Menaggio, Bellagio and Cadenabbia carry cars and buses. Fast rides are more expensive than regular transport. Boat rides are also a beautiful and cheap way to enjoy sightseeing on Lake Como. See time and frequency of Lake Como boats on navigazionelaghi website.
|Menaggio||15 minutes (7 minutes for passengers only - fast transport, more expensive)||€4.60 one-way; €15 one day. Car+driver: €8.60-14.40, depending on car size.|
|Bellagio||15 minutes||€4.60 one-way; €15 one day. Car+driver: €8.60-14.40, depending on car size.|
The best way to get around Esino Lario is by foot, even though the majority of the inhabitants prefer to use their cars. The taxonomy of the territory is extremely detailed; there are names not only for groups of houses (localities) but also for small areas of the forest; the detailed naming of the forest is due to the fact that the forest of Esino Lario is owned by the city council and assigned to the inhabitants making necessary to identify precisely every single slot of it.
Walking around the centre is pretty simple and there are signs for the main landmarks. Walking in the mountains can get more complicated. Trails are indicated by numbers and codified by the CAI, the Italian national mountain organisation.
There is only one bike you can use in Esino Lario and it is a mountain bike. The local mountain community and the Northern Grigna Regional Park have developed a map of bike roads and trails.
- [dead link] Anello Conca di Esino. 20 km with 400 m altimetric excursion. Long, mildly challenging and on dirt roads, muletracks and through pastures.
- Anello del Monte Fopp. 27 km with 900 m altimetric excursion.
The village has few major roads, and many little roads that you need to be a very careful driver to use (or at least try only with a very small car). To reach Ortanella and Cainallo a car can be convenient; Ortanella and Cainallo (specifically Vo' di Moncodeno) are the starting point for many excursions. Some mountain streets are classified "agro-silva-pastorali" (roads agro-silva-pastoral) and they can be used by cars only with an authorization.
Buses coming from Varenna make two regular stops in Esino Lario (Piazza Gulfi and Piazza Italia). During summer the bus also reaches Ortanella, and during winter there are some further stops for school children. Local travel by public bus is normally only to reach Ortanella; occasionally during summer a bus to Cainallo has been organized by the city council.
Although the village is small, the municipality of Esino Lario is large, with an area of 18.7 km² (7.2 sq mi) and an elevation that goes from 554 m to 2,409 m. A convenient way to visit and enjoy the territory is to browse it by area and through itineraries. You can visit the historical centres (with old buildings, churches, doors, washes and narrow alleys), the sculptures of Michele Vedani in the via Crucis and the main church of San Vittore, and the hamlets of Ortanella and Cainallo, which are departure points for further walks.
- Upper Esino (Esino superiore). This is one of the two centres of Esino, which was two villages (Esino Superiore and Esino Inferiore) until 1927; each village had its own church and there was a common church in the so-called "Castello" (the castle). Esino superiore still has its own historical centre of characteristic houses all built close to each other with narrow alleys and staircases passing through. It is inhabited all year round much more than Esino Inferiore. It is worthwhile to pass through the small Church of Sant'Antonio Abate and Piazza Caprera. It is also nice to pass through the small street of Via Cainallo to look from above at the village and at the numerous villas of Villaggio Riva. The best time to visit Esino superiore is in January during the celebration of Sant'Antonio Abate (Anthony the Great), when all restaurants and residents prepare the local ravioli pàtole and the children climb the tower of the small church to ring the bells by moving the clappers with their hands; the older children teach the younger ones the melody and – by working in a team and sharing the tasks – they compose a series of melodies. In summer a party is regularly organized with food sellers in the street and some ballroom dancing. From Piazza Caprera in Esino superiore, you can access the trail to Agueglio. From via Cainallo, the streets continue on the trail to Gromeduccio and Cainallo.
- Lower Esino (Esino interiore). This is the other centre of Esino. It is mainly inhabited during the summer and many of the houses are nicely restored holiday homes. The small Church of San Giovanni and its square is a nice spot surrounded by a dense network of homes. It is worth looking at the doors, porches and balconies of the oldest mountain houses. The trail to Bigallo and Ortanella departs from Esino Inferiore.
- Ortanella. A frazione (municipal subdivision) of Esino outside the main village at around 10 minutes by car or 1 hour by foot from the centre. Ortanella has a soft landscape with easy walks, trails in the woods, many picnic equipped areas and some impressive belvedere on the entire Lake Como up. Visiting the little church of San Pietro in Ortanella is a very charming walk and it offers a quite incredible view of both shores of the lake, from Lierna and Isola Comacina to Colico, Bellagio, Lago del Piano toward Switzerland and of course all the mountains around. Ortanella has a pond with a playground for children, the Percorso vita (fitness trail) and a series of signs to explain the flora and fauna of the area. In August Ortanella hosts some local events and barbecues and it is the departure point for excursion on the Monte Fopp and towards the Sentiero del viandante.
- Cainallo. A località (locality) of Esino outside the main village at around 15 minutes by car or 1 hour by foot from the centre. The landscape in Cainallo is fully alpine with a view of the rugged rocks of Grigna mountains. Cainallo has a small pond, a playground, a small church (built by the Gilera family), equipped picnic areas and it is a small ski resort. Just above in Vo' di Moncodeno in Cainallo (reachable by car in 5 minutes) start a large variety of trails and excursions to the Grigna mountains and its mountains shelters. Cainallo is also a pasture and cows and horses can be seen grazing the grass in summer. It is possible to help in the production of milk and cheese. The Rifugio Cainallo – just right when you arrive in Cainallo – is a good place for a meal and it is a hotel.
- 1 Belvedere in San Pietro in Ortanella, Ortanella, Prato di San Pietro.
- 2 Belvedere sasso di Narele.
- 3 Ghiacciaia del Moncodeno (from Cainallo and Rifugio Bogani). To visit the cave you need a guide, helmets, harnesses and a head torch.
- Grotta di Cainallo.
- Trovante della diga.
- Grotta di Canova (below Monte Croce).
- 4 Porta di Prada.
- 5 Chiesa sussidiaria di S. Antonio Abate, Esino Superiore.
- 6 Chiesa sussidiaria di S. Giovanni Battista, Esino Inferiore.
- 7 Oratorio di San Nicolao e Sacrario dei caduti. A church which in 1979 became a military memorial (sacrario militare).
- 8 Via Crucis di Michele Vedani, via don Giovanni Battista Rocca. As in many hill and mountain zones, Esino has a Via Crucis (that is, a circuit of shrines that depict the Passion of Christ). Esino's Via Crucis was created by the Milanese sculptor Michele Vedani (1874-1969), who used to vacation in Esino. In the first shrine (Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate), you can see Christ facing his verdict with strength and bravery; his body looks powerful and majestic, while Pilate, sitting with an absent-minded expression, abdicates his own role as judge, referring to the papers on his knees for support. In the eleventh one (Jesus on the cross) you can see a weak and slim Christ, exhausted by pain and strain, while on the other side, a Roman centurion may be seen on his horse, with a strong and regal posture. One interesting fact about the sculptures of this Via Crucis is that they were made from low-quality bronze, so when Mussolini's government requested the sculptures' destruction so that the metal could be repurposed to military use, the local parson was able to successfully argue that since the sculptures were made from low-quality material, it wasn't worthwhile to reuse it.
- 9 Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Vittore Martire sul Castello, via Parrocchiale 10, ☏ . This is the main church of Esino Lario, dedicated to San Victor and mentioned in a document as early as the 13th century. The wooden sacristy deserves a visit. The church also hosts two tapestries on religious subjects from the tapestry school of Esino Lario, which was active from 1936 to 1961 and won several gold medals at the Triennale di Milano.
- 10 Villa Gilera, via alle Grigne 2.
- 11 Villa Luzzani, via 25 aprile.
- 12 Villaggio Riva.
- 13 Torre di Esino, Trail 22 C Esino-Sciorcasella. The ruins of the Esino Lario tower are visible from the centre and you can pass close by on trail 22 C. It is one of the sighting towers used as the fortification system of the territory. The tower belongs to a private owner and it is in poor condition.
- 14 Museum of Grigne (Museo delle Grigne), Via Montefiori 19. By appointment. In a new building behind Villa Clotilde from 2016, with an area on the first floor of Villa Clotilde also. This local museum has a collection of archeology and paleontology. It preserves some of the rich archeological finds of the territory and it has a large collection of fossils of the Grigna mountains. The museum also presents a small demo-ethnology-anthropological collection. The archeological session will be further developed: a few pieces of the paleontological collection will be highlighted in a more contextualized installation and a floor of the museum will be devoted to the relationship between man and the mountain (the topic at the centre of the Ecomuseo delle Grigne) with the demo-ethnology-anthropological collection and the contemporary art collection. One section is dedicated to material culture with the farmer objects exposition. Added to this is a focus on the Tapestry School of Esino Lario. It was possibly Luigi Furiosi, a designer employed by the Carcano family, industrialists in the field of tin and aluminum, who imagined the synthetic and symbolic representation of Mandello in View of Mandello, maybe to celebrate an important anniversary of the Carcano company. At the foothills of the mountains, in the central part of the tapestry, we can spot the hydraulic factory of Sheets of Tin Foil of the Carcano family who started their business in Somana in 1895. The village of Mandello del Lario is recognizable thanks to some distinctive marks: the mountains which surround it as a natural background, the lake, but mainly the churches and typical buildings of the village. Everything seems to be plunged in the blue shades of the sky and this confers the work an enchanted atmosphere. The Grape Harvest surely is a significant work of art, both in terms of size (220x160cm) and artist, the famous Umberto Lilloni. The tapestry won the golden medal at the 9th Triennale di Milano in 1951. It represents five women and a young boy harvesting grapes. It is as if the artist had stopped time, leaving the characters in the middle of their movement: even if all the characters have a precise task, they are shown together as if they were light figures on the tapestry's surface. The artist describes with particular attention some details (such as the gestures, the grapes, the baskets) while leaving the atmosphere and the space behind the characters undefined, as if in a fairy tale: a wonderful frame from a cartoon. Free, donations welcome.
- 15 [formerly dead link] Villa Clotilde (Ecomuseo delle Grigne, Archivio Pietro Pensa, Museo delle Grigne), via Montefiori 19, ☏ . Usually Sa Su and holidays 10:00–12:00. The home of the Ecomuseo delle Grigne (the Ecomuseum of Grigne) and the Pietro Pensa Archive. The archive, whose oldest parchment dates to 16 May 1324, normally cannot be visited. Villa Clotilde also hosts some of the collections of the Museo delle Grigne: the collection of coleoptera of the Grigna mountains, the collection of Italian butterflies, and some stuffed animals. The most fascinating aspect of these collections is that they have been installed by the artist Roberto Paci Dalò in the sound installation titled Animagus; visitors are encouraged to browse the collections on the second floor with a small torch, immersed in a forest of sounds. There are some old grinders in the grounds. Admission is free, donations welcome.
Esino Lario is the perfect location for open-air actives, sports and for excursions. When it rains the best option is to enjoy a meal in a restaurant.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Bocce (boules). July and August. Outdoor. Free.
- 2 [formerly dead link] Sport hall - soccer for 7. Always accessible. Outdoor. The structure is managed by the volunteers of the association Polisportiva. Free.
- 3 [formerly dead link] Sport hall - soccer for 5, ☏ . Outdoor and indoor. The structure is managed by the volunteers of the association Polisportiva. Registration fee.
- 4 [formerly dead link] Sport hall - tennis, ☏ . Outdoor and indoor. The structure is managed by the volunteers of the association Polisportiva. Registration fee.
- 5 [formerly dead link] Fitness trail (percorso vita), Ortanella. Always accessible. Six different exercises (very easy, easy, middle-rande, middle-range/challenging, challenging and very challenging) which can be done with the use of a series of simple fitness tools distributed in an itinerary of 2 km (16 stops) in the woods of Ortanella. Free.
- 6 [dead link] Ski, Cainallo, ☏ . Sa Su and holidays 09:00-16:00. Cainallo used to be a significant ski resort but since the 1990s the skiing is limited to one skylight, one taps round and three slopes: basically it is a good place for beginners and children to try skiing. The skiing is managed by the non profit organization Esino 2000 Onlus and its volunteers; it is possible to rent equipment. Skipass for the season €17 adults and €13 children.
- Mountain bike. Free.
- [dead link] Caving (speleology). The Moncodeno is a very well-known area for caving. There is frequent speleology research on the almost 500 caves of that area, which occupies less than 2 km². Researchers use Rifugio Bogani as a base camp.
- Climbing. In Esino there is a climbing wall outside the sport hall. The Grigna mountains present quite a few climbing routes all departing from Cainallo: Pilastro di Prada Via della libertà (6a, 5b, 130 m altimetric excursion), Pilastro di Prada Via CAI Vedano (5c, 4, 150 m altimetric excursion), Falesia dei Lares (6a/8a, 50 m altimetric excursion), Cainallo Animal House (6c+, 8b+, 40 m altimetric excursion), Grigna Settentrionale Sasso Cavallo / Parete sud Via Ludo Mentis (7b, 400 m altimetric excursion), Esino (5b/8b, 20 m altimetric excursion), Parete di Piancaformia (La Belle Epoque, 6c, 180 m; Libertà controllata, 170 m; Arma letale, 6b, 130 m), Cima di Sengg (6b, 300 m altimetric excursion; via Ginsengg), Sasso Cavallo ( Febbre da cavallo (6a/7b, 250 m altimetric excursion). Free.
- Snowshoeing. An winter outdoor sport which can be practiced in Cainallo and Ortanella. Every year an evening snowshoeing walk is organized in Cainallo by the local associations. Free.
- [dead link] Birdwatching. The territory is suitable for birdwatching. Birds of prey (rapaci): buzzard (poiana), kestrel (gheppio), hawk (sparviero) and black kite (nibbio bruno); woodpeckers and sparrows. Free.
- Mountain running. Since 2014 Esino Lario has organised a mountain running contest called sky race (March) Free.
- 1 Vo' di Moncodeno (Cainallo). The starting point of many excursions in the Grigna mountains. You can park your car at Vo' di Moncodeno for €2 per day (buy the parking cards in Esino Lario). €2.
- Monte Croce, Trail 23. An excursion from Vo' di Moncodeno and reachable in 45 minutes. The walk is pretty steep but it is manageable by children (from 4-5 years old and it will take 1½-2 hours). The mountain shelter Baitello dell'Amicizia (1740) is just below the peak and there is a cross there (Monte Croce means mountain cross, 1780 m); there is a great view of Lake Como from both the cross and the shelter. The "Festa del Monte Croce" (the annual celebration of the mountain, the construction of the shelter and the Alpini) takes place on the first Sunday of July.
- Historic mule tracks between Varenna and Esino Lario. 6.5 km (4 miles) trekking itinerary going along the ways that have been walked for centuries to reach Esino Lario from Varenna.
- Tour of notable villas in Esino Lario. A walking itinerary within Esino Lario to see the most notable villas built between 1920 and 1970.
- Trail of the Hermit Saints. 7 km (4.5 miles) trekking itinerary through woods and meadows of Esino up to the viewpoint of Sasso di San Defendente.
Activities for children
There are many excursions that are suitable for children. There are playgrounds in the centre, in Ortanella and Cainallo. Below a list of playgrounds and you can find in the description of the excursions hints for the most suitable itineraries for children. Esino Lario received the prize LavoroFamiglia (WorkFamily) of Lombardy Regione and the Catholic University in 2010 for its children-friendly territory. You can find indicated with a sticker on shops and restaurants the services for children (high chair, changing, warmer) and all restaurants and children menu (specifically designed or simply offering half portions and children-size pizza).
- 7 Playground Giovannimaria Pensa, Via Montefiori 19 (Centre - upper area). There are no toilets; Villa Clotilde which is in the same garden has toilets (accessible during its opening hours, essentially in week-ends in the morning) and there is the bar restaurant 58 near-by. Free.
- 8 Playground viale della Chiesa, Viale della Chiesa (Centre). There are no toilets but the bars and restaurants Oasi and Montanina are near-by. Free.
- 9 Playground Cainallo, Cainallo (Outside the centre). There are no toilets but the bar restaurant Rifugio Cainallo is near-by and there is a quite a lot of green space around. Free.
- 10 Playground Ortanella, Ortanella (Outside the centre). There are no toilets but the bar restaurant Cacciatori is near-by and there is a quite a lot of green space around. Free.
Every summer there are activities and childcare organized in Esino Lario.
- [dead link] Sport Summer Camp. June-July 09:00-17:00. A week of sports for children who can test and try a wide variety of different sports (volleyball, soccer, archery, handball, judo, karate, badminton, hockey on the grass, climbing, basket, baseball, athletics). The camp is for 5-12 years-old children and it is organized in two rounds. Registration fee.
- Green Week (settimana verde). July-August 09:00-17:00. A week of activities for children organized by the Northern Grigna Regional Park. It includes visits, excursions and laboratories and every day focuses on a specific topic (flora with the identification of plants and the production of small herbarium, fauna with the identification of animal traces, the work of speleologists, the production of milk and cheese...). Since 2014 they organize 2 weeks: 1 week devoted to younger children (5-10) and 1 week for older children (which includes also a sleep-over in a pasture). Registration fee.
- 11 Summer Kindergarten (scuola dell'infanzia), Via Agueglio 6, ☏ . July 08:00-13:45. The local Kindergarten is managed by a non profit association and – according to the availability of places – it is possible to enroll children between 18 months (they need to be able to walk) up to 5 years-old for the summer activities in July; also non residents can access to the service. During July the Kindergarten has a light program of activities and it is basically a game room; it also provides lunch. Registration fee.
- 12 Oratorio estivo (summer oratory), Via Agueglio 6, ☏ . June-July, 14:00-17:00. As in many Italian towns, there are summer activities organized by the oratory (managed by the parish and involving volunteers). Essentially children of primary school (6-11 years old) do their summer homework and they are engaged in some games and team games.
Esino Lario is definitely not a shopping centre but there are some shops for your needs (food, cigarettes, newspaper, toys for children, clothes, little presents, tools...) and where you can find some regional food specialities and little presents and souvenirs. The nearest shopping mall is Fuentes in Colico or the shops in Lecco.
- 1 Edicola Paganin Rossella, Via Adamello (Centre), ☏ . Newspapers, magazines, toys, books, little presents.
- 2 Market Pina e Mohammed, Via San Michele (Centre - upper area), ☏ . Tools, plants, sheets. It is a bazaar indeed.
- 3 [dead link] Il negozietto di Velentina, Via Adamello 31 (Centre - lower area), ☏ . Cloths for adults and children.
- 4 Bar Tabaccheria Lisa, Via Adamello (Centre - lower area), ☏ . A bar selling also cigarettes, small presents and toys.
- 5 Bar La Sosta, Via Adamello 13 (Centre - lower area), ☏ . A bar selling also cigarettes.
- 6 Panificio Pensa Pietro, Piazza Italia (Centre - upper area), ☏ . It is a little supermarket and it has great bakery products (which is their speciality); in particular local biscuits and a unique bread they call "la ciambella" which is a huge thin bun almost 1 meter large which is sold in pieces and distributed also in several other bakeries in the territory outside Esino.
- 7 Frutta e verdura – Gelateria di Elisabetta Maglia, via Leonardo Da Vinci (Centre - upper area), ☏ . Fresh fruits and vegetables, and artisanal gelato. They have also some candies, jams, and pre-prepared vegetables.
- 8 Alimentari Virginia, Via XXV Aprile 21 (Centre - upper area), ☏ . A small shop with a variety of products, bread, affettato, some meat and packaged products.
- 9 Mini Market Chicco & Nadia, Via Verdi (Centre - lower area), ☏ . A small shop with a variety of products, bread, affettato, some meat and packaged products.
It is probably also useful to know that there are two banks.
- 10 Deutsche Bank - Banca Popolare di Lecco, via XXV Aprile, 16 (Centre - upper area).
- 11 Banca Popolare di Sondrio, Piazzale Gulfi, 2 (Centre - lower area), ☏ , fax: .
The traditional local cuisine is a simple mountain cuisine, based essentially on polenta, potatoes, dairy products, nuts and pork meat, with some specialities such as the ravioli called patole or the simple dessert called "paradell". More broadly the traditional cuisine of Lake Como, Valsassina and Valtellina includes specialities such as fish from the lake (i.e. lavarelli - whitefish, pesce persico - perch) on a white risotto, pizzoccheri and grilled pork (ribs and sausages). The local cuisine is today always mixed with Italian cuisine coming from different regions and which can satisfy also vegetarian and vegan diets and include meat dishes which do not include pork.
- 1 Area picnic Cainallo, Località Cainallo (outside the centre - Cainallo). Lighting fires outside picnic area is prohibited. You can apply to the city council for a permit. free.
- 2 Area picnic Ortanella, Località Ortanella (Outside the center - Ortanella). Lighting fires outside picnic area is prohibited. You can apply to the city council for a permit. free.
- 3 Bar La Sosta, Via Adamello 13 (Center - lower area), ☏ . A sandwich bar, quite large and a good place also for aperitifs. Budget.
- 4 Bar Tabaccheria Lisa, Via Adamello (centre - lower area), ☏ . A place for a sandwich. It is a small bar with a counter and few tables. Budget.
- 5 Gelateria da Eli, Via Da Vinci (centre - upper area), ☏ . A place for artisanal gelato. It has some benches outside to sit. Budget.
- 6 [dead link] Albergo Ristorante Centrale, Via Solferino 11 (centre - upper area), ☏ . A quite large restaurant used also for weddings. Italian cuisine with regional specialities, it also serves pizza not every day. Mid-range.
- 7 Bar Pizzeria Ristorante 58, Via Montefiori 35 (Center - upper area), ☏ , . Modern, with around 60 seats inside and a terrace. Italian cuisine with regional specialities, it also serves pizza not every day. The menu has some interesting receipts designed with a contemporary interpretation of traditional ingredients, like the Spaghetti con misultin. Mid-range.
- 8 Bar Pizzeria Oasi (centre - lower area), ☏ . Mainly a pizzeria with also some pasta dishes and sandwiches. Mid-range.
- 9 Albergo Ristorante La Montanina, Via Adamello 5 (Center), ☏ . A large restaurant used also for weddings. Italian cuisine with regional specialities. Mid-range.
- 10 Albergo Ristorante La Lucciola, Via al Castagneto 22 (outside the centre - towards Cainallo), ☏ . Italian cuisine with some regional specialities. Mid-range.
- 11 Albergo Ristorante Santa Maria, Via Cainallo 20 (outside the centre - towards Cainallo, Gromeduccio), ☏ . Open in July and August. You can eat inside and outside. It is really perfect for children; it has a large green space around, a small park for children with a slide and swings, and a "campo di bocce" (bowling green). It is also the perfect stop for an excursion, since the restaurants is nicely connected to Esino with pedestrian paths which is manageable even with strollers (the local Kindergarten organizes its summer lunch there with children, families and strollers, and it takes around 1 hour for 3 year-old children to get there by foot from the village). Mid-range.
- 12 Albergo Ristorante Rifugio Cainallo, Cainallo (outside the centre - Cainallo), ☏ . A quite large restaurant used also for weddings. Regional cuisine with meat and polenta as a specialty. Mid-range.
- 13 Albergo Cacciatori, Località Ortanella (Outside the center - Ortanella), ☏ . A large restaurant used also for weddings. Italian cuisine with regional specialities, in particular game. Mid-range.
- 14 Agriturismo Ortanella, Località Ortanella (outside the centre - Ortanella), ☏ . Regional cuisine and local ingredients. Mid-range.
- 15 Rifugio Bogani (former Capanna Monza), Grigna Settentrionale (in the Grigna mountains, reachable only by foot), ☏ . Regional cuisine and simple mountain recipes with meat and polenta. Nice cheese from the near-by pasture of Moncodeno and good cakes, speciality of the chef. Mid-range.
- 16 Rifugio Bietti, Grigna Settentrionale (comune di Mandello del Lario) (in the Grigna mountains, reachable only by foot). Regional cuisine and simple mountain recipes with meat and polenta. Mid-range.
- 17 Rifugio Brioschi, Grigna Settentrionale (comune di Pasturo) (in the Grigna mountains, reachable only by foot), ☏ . Regional cuisine and simple mountain recipes with meat and polenta. Mid-range.
- 18 Albergo Ristorante Rosa delle Alpi, Via Adamello 5 (Centre), ☏ . The restaurant is often closed. Around €50.
The coolest place to have a beer is definitely a mountain shelter, but if you can't be bothered to walk up there, you can find other places for an appetitive or a drink. Have a look at the eating places; in all of them it is possible to have an aperitif (a drink between 18:00 and 20:00 with some chips and snacks included in the cost of the drink; in some places – like the bar 58, Oasi, La Sosta – you can get a quite luxurious amount of food with focaccia, canapés and little sandwiches) and an evening beer. Gardens and terraces can also be a good places to select your spot.
Esino Lario does not have very luxurious solutions for sleeping; the hotel with most stars is Rosa delle Alpi with 3 out of 5. To decide where to sleep it is probably more important to select where you want to stay and if you prefer accommodation right in the middle of the village (centre), in the areas of Cainallo and Ortanella (at 10-15 minutes car-ride, around 1 hour from the centre by foot, and immerse in nature) or right in the middle of the mountains in a shelter you can only reach by foot. To sleep in the mountains there are different solutions: mountain shelters managed with rooms and restaurants, or mountain shelters that are owned by city councils and which can provide a simple shelter. Camping is authorized in designated areas (or you need to ask the authorization to the city council).
There are many flats available for renting. The city council through its tourist office [formerly dead link] facilitates information about priviate apartments and houses for rent.
- 1 Free camping in Ortanella, Ortanella, in the direction of Prato San Pietro (follow the street to Ortanella and turn right in the direction of San Pietro). The camping area is indicated with signs; it is not equipped but it has a fountain at a very short distance and there are picnic areas and the Percorso vita around. free.
- 2 [dead link] Baitello dell'Alpe, Alpe di Esino Lario, ☏ . A mountain shelter build by the CAI Val d'Esino. 18 bunk beds.
- 3 Baitello dell'Amicizia, Monte Croce. A mountain shelter built and managed by ANA Esino Lario.
- Baitello di Casis. A mountain shelter built and managed by CAI Val d'Esino.
- 4 Rifugio Bogani (Capanna Monza), Grigna Settentrionale, ☏ . Managed mountain shelter with beds and restaurant. Around 50 bunk beds. Members of CAI €10 for the bed, €40 dinner bed and breakfast; Non members of CAI €20 bed, €50 dinner bed and breakfast.
- 5 Rifugio Bietti, Grigna Settentrionale (city council of Mandello del Lario). Managed mountain shelter with beds and restaurant.
- 6 Rifugio Brioschi, Grigna Settentrionale (city council of Pasturo), ☏ . Managed mountain shelter with beds and restaurant.
- 7 Scout house - former Ristoro (Outside the centre - in Bigallo). It is a dorm managed by the Scouts and it can be rented or used for specific events. It has 55 beds, 4 bathrooms inside the building, 1 bathroom outside the building. The dorm is a simple and clean accommodation with kitchen, 2 large living rooms and a garden providing also the possibility of camping.
- 8 Villa Rogo (Outside the centre - towards Cainallo). It is a dorm-like accommodation owned by PIME, the Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) and it can be rented or used for specific events. It has 70 beds and it is at about 20 minutes walk from the centre (also with nice trails).
- 9 [dead link] Rainbow House, Via Montefiori 7 (Centre - upper area), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 2 apartments (7 beds and 5 beds) with 2 rooms each, living room, kitchen and bathroom. €30-40 per person, discounts for couples, families and longer stays.
- 10 Agriturismo Ortanella, Ortanella (Outside the centre in Ortanella), ☏ .
- 11 [dead link] Albergo Ristorante Centrale, Via Solferino 11 (Centre - upper area), ☏ . 2 stars hotel. 16 rooms, 24 beds. €35.
- 12 Albergo Ristorante La Lucciola, Via al Castagneto (outside the centre in the direction of Cainallo), ☏ . A hotel above the village, with a wide view on Esino Lario and the mountains. 13 rooms, 20 beds. €38.
- 13 Albergo Ristorante Santa Maria, Via Cainallo 20 (outside the centre in the direction of Cainallo, towards Gromeduccio), ☏ . An charming hotel immerse in nature. 7 rooms, 19 beds. €35.
- 14 Albergo Ristorante Rifugio Cainallo, Cainallo (outside the centre in Cainallo), ☏ . 23 rooms, 39 beds. €30.
- 15 Albergo Ristorante La Montanina, Via Adamello 5 (Centre), ☏ . The historical hotel of Esino Lario, built with the first tourism and used by scientists visiting the mountains. A simple accommodation in a charming building. 2 stars hotel, 47 rooms, 75 beds. €45.
- 16 Albergo Ristorante Rosa delle Alpi, Via Adamello 5 (Centre), ☏ . 3 stars hotel. The highest level of hotel in Esino Lario in an historical villa and with services for people with disabilities. 15 rooms, 25 beds. €50.
- 17 Albergo Ristorante Cacciatori, Ortanella (outside the centre in Ortanella), ☏ . 5 rooms. €70.
Esino Lario is a very safe location with an extremely low crime rate, and with a system to manage medical assistance and emergencies.
It is important to bear in mind dangers associated to mountain excursions, trekking, climbing and alpinism and to know the normal safety measures and the principles of environmental education. Lighting fires outside prone areas is prohibited, and you must put out fires with care and take all your garbage with you.
To visit the Ghiacciaia del Moncodeno (the famous cave of Moncodeno), one must have a guide and use helmets, harnesses and a head torch. The same safety procedures should be used to visit any cave in the area.
Trails and muleteers maintenance are major issues, and often those paths are not well-maintained; it can be convenient to plan excursions on the less popular trails after the annual celebrations of mountain shelters (on the occasion of the celebrations, the community takes care of the cleaning and mowing; the celebrations are usually organized in the first weeks of July) or to use trails connected to managed mountain shelters (the managers usually take care of the trails). When trails are not properly maintained they can be difficult to find, identify and follow, they can be forested, or – for muleteers – they can be flooded with rain (if they are not maintained, the banks of small streams break and the steams grow bigger, using the trail as a channel).
The unique emergency number is 112 (numero unico di emergenza). The service is managed in Varese and they forward requests to the appropriate service (police, carabinieri (military police), firemen, etc).
- Volontari Protezione Civile di Esino Lario. A non-profit group of trained volunteers associated with the national Protezione Civile (civil protection), supporting the territories and other national territories in emergencies.
- Gruppo Antincendio di Esino Lario. Volunteer fire fighting group.
The emergency number in Italy is 118; it is a centralized service. The nearest hospitals are in Lecco, Gravedona and Morbegno. Esino has a airstrip for helicopters located in Bigallo and used for medical emergencies. Ambulances reach Esino Lario from Bellano and the association Soccorso Val d'Esino provides assistance and transport for medical visits.
- 2 [formerly dead link] Doctor for residents, Piazza Pietro Pensa (In the main square of the village just below the city hall, next to the pharmacy.), ☏ .
- 3 [formerly dead link] Doctor for the tourists and visitors, Piazza Pietro Pensa (In the main square of the village just below the city hall, next to the pharmacy.), ☏ . The service is available in July and August.
- 4 [formerly dead link] Pharmacy, Piazza Pietro Pensa (In the main square of the village just below the city hall.), ☏ . The opening hours are indicated on the city council website. The pharmacy of Esino Lario is owned and managed by the city council.
- Soccorso Val d'Esino, via Adamello 18, ☏ . A non profit association with trained volunteers providing assistance and transport for medical visits.
Esino Lario is connected with broadband and the Internet is distributed through phone landlines (56Kb and ADSL Alice), UMTS (tim) and Wireless (Eolo). Villa Clotilde provides free access to the Internet (Eolo) during its opening hours and there are few netbook available for visitors.
- 5 [formerly dead link] Villa Clotilde, via Montefiori 19, ☏ . Saturday and Sunday morning and during holidays. For the hours please refer to the website of the city council or call. Free.
There is a post office in Esino Lario and of course mail carriers deliver there (there are quite a few mail carriers already delivering regularly to local companies).
- 6 Post office, Via Dante 1, ☏ .
The local area code is 0341; international code is +39 if calling from outside Italy (you keep the 0 when dialing a number; i.e. +390341...). Mobile operators active in the area are Tim, Tre (roaming) and Vodafone. 3G with Tim appears to be the one working at best.