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The trail of the Hermit Saints is a trekking itinerary within the territory of the municipality of Esino Lario in the Italian province of Lecco.


This linear itinerary (back-and-forth following the way marker 22A and, for the variation, 22E) through woods and meadows of Esino up to the viewpoint of Sasso di San Defendente, a place named after a Roman soldier who, according to local legend, lived in the area. The viewpoint faces few chapels and peaks whose names derives from a group of hermit saints who allegedly dwelt here in middle-age.

The proposed route, back and forth, is about 7 km (4.5 miles) long. Including the variation towards Narele it becomes 8.5 km (5.2 miles) long.

Get in[edit]

How to reach Esino Lario.


Trekking shoes are recommended. It is suggested to bring food and beverage and to consume it while enjoying the panoramic view over the Esino valley or the Como lake at one of the stops along the way. The route includes path and unpaved ways which can be an obstacle for disadvantaged people.


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.


Map of Trail of the Hermit Saints (Edit GPX)
  • 1 Pietro Pensa square - Start.
  • 2 Busso.
  • 3 Agueglio Pass.
  • 4 Sasso di San Defendente.

Starting from Pietro Pensa square (Piazza Pietro Pensa), having the city hall (Municipio) on the right, go uphill in Bertarini street first and 25 aprile street after. Turn left in Montefiori street. Shortly after on the right there is a pedestrian street, Agueglio street. Follow it until reaching Armando Diaz square where two fountains and a washtub are located. Crossing the square, keep going along Agueglio street until the end of the built-up area where the cobbled street changes into a mule track.

At the next fork keep left, the other mule track brings to Cavedo and Roman-age tower once used to control the access to Valsassina. At this point, the valley of the Pannero creek (also named Volta valley) begins. The way goes uphill until reaching the farmstead of Busso where evidences of celtic age were found. The location attracted farmers for the favourable climate for fruit plants and harvest fields.

After Busso, the way enters the wood and crosses the Gromm valley where an endemic type of crested salamander is present. At the next fork between way 22A and 22E keep right towards Agueglio Pass (1142 m, 3747 ft), a grassy hump between Esino valley and Valsassina with an amazing view over the north leg of Como Lake between the Dervio peninsula and the Lepontine Alps at the Switzerland border.

Where there is the small church of San Defendente hosting the fresco of Madonna della neve and Sant'Antonio abate (Italian for Our Lady of the Snows and Saint Anthony Abbot) the path reach the main road. Turn left along the road until the wood starts again. Not so far ahead, on the right, there is a sign for the path towards Sasso di San Defendente (Italian for Stone of Saint Defendente). The path passes first a fountain and after the Léscen spring. Finally, it reaches the peak (1,326 m, 4,350 ft). The panoramic view spans over the three legs of Como Lake, the western alpine range and the Grigna massif.

According to local legend, seven hermit saints dwelt in this place talking with nightly fires. The saints are eponymous for few peaks and chapels visible from this point. The fires mentioned in the legend are the ones used in late roman-early middle age period as signals.

The way back just follows the same route used to arrive here.


  • 1 Narele.

Just before (when going) or just after (returning) Agueglio Pass, it is nice to take the fork towards Narele meadows following way marker 22E. This viewpoint encompasses the Grigna massif and the whole Esino village.

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