This loop itinerary reaches the most notable viewpoints on the northern part of the cost range, whose peak is Mount Palagia, which divides Esino valley from Como Lake. The proposed route is about 13.5 km (8.4 miles) long.
Trekking shoes are necessary and poles recommended. It is suggested to bring food and beverage and to consume it while enjoying the panoramic view over the Esino Valley or Lake Como at one of the stops along the way. The route includes path and unpaved ways which can be an obstacle for disadvantaged people. As part of route is above 1,500m (5,000ft), choose appropriate dressing.
For illustrative purposes the route is described to begin in Pensa square in front of the city hall, but any other place in the village of Esino fits as well.
- 1 Pietro Pensa square - Start.
- 2 Bigallo - Chapel of Saint Grato.
- 3 Lierna Alp.
- 4 Lierna Col.
- 5 Calivazzo Col.
- 6 Mount Palagia.
- 7 Esino Alp.
- 8 Col of the Alp.
- 9 Church of Saint Peter.
- 10 Ortanella.
- 11 Esino Inferiore - Washtub of Saint John.
Starting from Pietro Pensa square (Piazza Pietro Pensa), in front of the city hall (Municipio) of Esino Lario, go south in Giusppee Verdi street which becomes Ortanella street first and Bigallo street after where, on the right next to heliport, there is the chapel of Saint Grato (Gesuolo di San Grato). Few meters ahead, before entering the industrial area, turn right on the mule track of the Alp which leads to the farmstead of Piazzo and, after having crossed large beach woods, to Costa da Buus. At the trifurcation, turn right on the dirt road which goes, almost flat, through Cagnolo Valley until the fork. Turn left on the path for Lierna Alp: it is not far away and it is announced by the fountain and the water tank which serve the pasture lodge. Here, in summer season, cheese and butter are available for sale. Keep the left, ascending to the Lierna Col (Bocchetta di Lierna) at 1356 m (4449 ft), which offer an amazing view of the south-eastern leg of Lake Como. You can often see chamois grazing on the peaks from here.
On the left, there is an unpaved road, designed for fire control purposes, that leads to Calivazzo Col (Bocchetta di Calivazzo) at 1420 m (4659 ft) which marks the border between the municipality of Lierna and Mandello del Lario. The Grigna Massif, specifically Grigna di Releccio and Grignetta peaks, is the dominant characteristic of the view from Calivazzo Col.
Take the path on the right which runs along the ridge to reach the highest point of the itinerary: Palagia Mount (Monte Palagia) at 1549 m (5082 ft). It is the peak of the range which defines the coast line of Como Lake between Mandello del Lario and Varenna. Keeping the path on the ridge, you are back to Bocchetta Col first and Lierna Alp after. Going north, the path reach Esino Alp (Alpe d'Esino) with few scattered lodges that have been restored by the Alpin Club of Esino. The one most downstream is a good shelter in case of sudden bad weather.
The ridge path finally reaches the Col of the Alp (Forcella dell'Alpe) at 1122 m (3681 ft): pass it westward in direction of the lake. Shortly after turn right into a path on a field of wild oregano and thyme. At the next cross, keep right towards the church of Saint Peter. It was built in a strategic point along the roman road of Brentolone joining Esino and Lierna. In front of the church, a large meadow offers a view on both northern and south-eastern legs of Como Lake having in the middle the Bellagio Peninsula.
Stay on the dirt road, which becomes open to traffic just before entering the village of Ortanella. Here, at the chapel of Pozzzal Vec (Gesuolo del Pozzal Vecc), turn right along the old mule track which goes downhill through the farmstand of Selva, the fountains of Ontragno, the village of Roncaiolo. It finally reaches Lava, the location of old mills along Esino Creek, where the stone bridge leads to the steep track which arrives in Esino Inferiore in front of the washtub of Saint John (Lavatoio di San Giovanni) an old fascinating drinking trough. Following the road, you can reach the main square with the church of Saint John the Baptist (San Giovanni Battista). To reach the city hall of Esino skirt the church and take Dante street on the left. Walk on the street until you cross the main street. When reaching the war memorial, you are next to the city hall.