Walking the Greenway del lago di Como

21 The lakeside at Lenno

The Greenway del lago di Como is a pleasant 10km walk from Colonno to Cadenabbia di Griante. It is mainly along the lakeside but it does climb up to pass through some villages. We decided to walk the section from Lenno to Cadenabbia.

We caught the C 10 bus to Lenno which would give us about a 5 km walk back. We were looking out for the square in Lenno but realised too late that the bus does not go down to the square but continues along the main road. We got off at the next stop and then had to re-orientate ourselves. We walked down an alley towards the lake and saw one of the Greenway del lago signs.

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These signs are fairly frequent along the path and we knew we were back on track. After another 20 minutes of walking we came to a noticeboard which indicated out current position but also informed us that it was 6.4 km to Cadenabbia. We were going to have to walk a lot further than we had planned.

We reached the lakeside at the Lido de Lenno and then made a short diversion to the square in Lenno.

27 Lenno 

Back at the lake we continued along to the boat dock. It was 11.00 am and time  for a coffee.

30 Enjoying a coffee

We continued along to the hotel S. Giorgio where we turned left up a small alley way to reach the main road. Crossing the road we began the long slow climb to the village of Mezzegra.

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It was very colourful with the flowers and shrubs in the gardens.

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The route was well signposted and after a few twists and turns we approached the church of S. Abbondio.

49 Church of S Abbondio

47  Memorial

From the memorial there were beautiful views looking over the lake.

Continuing along the road we came to the village of Bonzanigo. I saw a sign for a shrine and grotto and set off to explore. It was fascinating but I have not been able to find any additional information.

54 The Grotto5556

We enjoyed walking through the village with its narrow streets and archways. At times it felt as though you were walking through peoples back yards.

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From Bonzanigo we began to descend, crossing the bridge over the Bolvedro stream to carry on down to the lake.

The final part of the walk was along the promenade by the main road but it was still full of interest. We passed the beautiful villa La Quiete with its Italian style front garden and wrought iron gates.

65 Villa la Quiete

A little further on we entered the Parco Teresio Olivelli with its beautiful fountain. A chance to get away from the road and the noise of traffic.

77. Parco Teresio Olivelli

Once out of the park we continued along the lake towards Tremezzo.

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It was 1.30pm and time to think on lunch. We crossed the road to the ‘Red and White ‘ bar where we enjoyed Ham and cheese toasties and a long cool drink.

It was then only another kilometre along the promenade back to our hotel. We had walked about 8 km. A little bit more than we intended. It was time to relax and enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace.

92 Enjoying life

I don’t think we will venture far tonight.

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Four hours in Bergamo.

18 Bergamo

On the second day of our holiday at Lake Como we went on a day trip to the City Of Bergamo. First we had to get a ferry across the lake from Villa Carlotta to Varenna where we boarded a coach for our journey to Bergamo.

The drive along the eastern arm of the lake, the Lago di Lecco was interesting. It is quieter than the Como arm and passed through a couple of small industrial towns. Mandello dei Lario famous for motorcycle manufacture and the former silk town of Abbadia Lariana.

We arrived in Bergamo at 11.45am. The city of Bergamo is divided into two parts – the Citta Alta (the upper city) and the Citta Bassa (the lower city). The Citta Alta is protected by formidable walls and there are only five gates. We were driven up to the Porta San Alessandro just inside the upper city walls. We headed off along the Via Colleoni towards the heart of the city and the Piazza Vecchia.

837 Piazza Vecchia

The Piazza Vecchia was built by the Venetians in the 15th century as the centrepiece of the city. On the left is the Palazzo Nuovo with its marble colonnade. Building started in the early 17th century but was only finished in the e3arly 20th century. It was once the Town Hall but it now houses the Biblioteca Angelo Mai, one of Italy’s finest libraries.

17 Statue in Piazza Vecchia

In the centre of the square is a water fountain surrounded by statues. The cool drinking water proved very popular on this very hot day.

We had a couple of hours free time before meeting up with a local guide for a tour of the city. We decided to walk down the Via Gombito, Like the Via Colleoni this narrow cobbled street is lined with restaurants and patisseries. Delightful smells were coming from the doorways, my mouth was beginning to water. At the Piazza Mercato Delle Scarpe we turned left to climb up to the Parco Delle Remembrance. Here amongst the laid out paths were relics from WW II.

846 Tank

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I wandered off to the city walls to gaze down on the lower city and the plain. Turning round I could look out over the rooftops of Citta Alta.

31 Rooftop View

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By the time were got back to the centre it was  one o’clock and time for a bite to eat. A slice of freshly baked pizza and an apricot tart was just what we needed.

866 Statues in Piazza Vecchia

                                                 Statues in the Piazza Vecchia

15 Torre Civica

                                            The Civic Tower.

At 1.45pm we met up with Simone, our local guide at the Piazza Vecchia. She told us more about the history of the buildings before leading us through the archway to the Piazza del Duomo.

To our left was the cathedral but the centrepiece was the magnificent Cappella Colleoni.

833 Colleoni Chapel

The Colleoni Chapel was built by the sculptor and architect Giovani Antonio Amadeo by 1476 for the tomb of Bartolomeo Colleoni and his daughter Madea. The interior is marvellous but no photography is allowed and this rule is rigorously enforced.

47 Coat of Arms

Outside on the railings are the Coat of Arms of the Colleoni family. Out guide gave us two very different accounts of the origin of the design. I could not possibly repeat them here. But, she did say “Touch them if you dare “.

Next door to the left is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore with its entrance guarded by a pair of  Gothic stone lions.

P1180867868 Gothic Lion

Building of this church began in 1137 and the Lombard-Romanesque architecture also houses Gothic frescoes, wooden inlays and Flemish tapestries.

75 Ornate ceiling71 Church Interior

87 Tapestry

At the other end of the square is the Baptistery, built in 1340 for the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore but later moved to its current location.

35 The Baptistery

                               The Baptistery

Nearby was the washhouse built at the end of the 1800’s . It provided the upper town with clean running water which was absent from the houses. It also provided a focal point for people to meet up for a chat.

859 The Wash house

All to soon it was time to leave and head back to our coach. Four hours had been sufficient time to visit the main attractions but not long enough to visit the museums and galleries. That would need four days.

We were due to travel back along the motorway which in theory should have been quicker but we had not allowed for the rush hour and the Italian driving.

Back at our hotel in Cadenabbia we just had time to change before heading to the restaurant for another four course meal. It had been an enjoyable but tiring day.

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A climb to the church of San Martino.

The church of San Martino is situated at a height of 475 m on the steep slopes of Sasso S Martino above the village of Griante on the shores of Lake Como. It should make for a pleasant afternoons walk.

I started the walk from outside the Britannia Excelsior Hotel and walked up the street to the right of the hotel before climbing a steep flight of steps. Turning left at the War Memorial I glimpsed my first sight of the church perched in a seemingly impossible position high on the cliff face.

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I passed under an archway with a house on top to enter the pedestrianized centre of Griante with its cobbled streets and attractive houses soon reaching the church of San Rocco and a sign indicating the route to San Martino.

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After a short distance along the road I turned right to descent some steps and cross a footbridge over a dry streambed to join the cobbled mule track which would lead me to the church of San Martino.

The path was steep and I was soon sweating. The temperature has risen to 36 degrees. Along the way there were shines decorated with mosaics representing scenes from the life of Christ.

Shrine 2bShrine 1b

The mosaics were well protected with a thick wire mesh. However I realised that I could just get my camera lens through the gap. I had to take four images to capture the whole scene and I have managed to stitch the photos together to show the full picture.

Shrine 3bShrine 4b

Shrine 5bShrine 6b

Shrine 9bShrine 10b

After an hour and a quarter of walking I finally reached the church.

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The church of San Martino was built in the 16th century and became a venerated sanctuary after the discovery of a 15th century wooded statue of Mary with the baby Jesus. According to local legend the statue was discovered in the 17th century by a young girl in a cave on the mountain. The statue was thought to have been hidden there in the previous century by a man from Menaggio when the area was invaded by the Swiss who ordered that all statues of the saints were to be destroyed. When the people of Griante heard of the find they brought the statue down to the parish Church of SS Nabore and Felice in the village. However the statue disappeared and was later found on the slopes of Sasso San Martino. This was seen as a sign of the Lady’s wish to be worshipped on the mountain so a niche was built on the mountain and later the church of San Martino was built.

The church is perched on a grassy shelf with steep limestone cliffs above and below. Sitting outside eating an apple I could admire the view looking over the central area of Lake Como and down towards Lecco.

Panoramic view from the church

Soon it was time to return, retracing my steps along my outward route. I paused half way down to look at the Cappella degli Alpini dedicated to S Carlo.

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Above the alter is a painting dedicated to the saint and other paintings representing the Alpine troops during the war.

When I eventually got back down to the lakeside I was hot, tired and very thirsty. A good excuse to drop off for a glass of cool beer.

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A morning at Villa Carlotta.

005 Villa Carlotta

We had moved on to Lake Como and were staying in Cadenabbia. Just a few hundred yards from our hotel was the beautiful Villa Carlotta.

The Villa was built in at the end of the 17th century for the Marquis Clerici from Milan and later became the property of Count Sommariva who married Clerici’s daughter. In 1856 the villa was sold to Princess Marina of Prussia who gave it to her daughter Carlotta as a wedding present.

890 Villa Carlotta

The gardens at the front of the house are laid out in Italian style.

To the side and rear of the house the gardens have a more English feel and were full of colour.

895 The Terraced Gardens

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The gardens are famous for the blooming of the Azaleas but we were too late in the season.

The inside of the house was very interesting with paintings by Hayaz, Vikar and Lordon. There are also sculptures by Canova and Thorwaldsen together with important tapestries.

Photography was allowed inside the house but not the use of flash. However I did manage to get a few images.

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909 Ceiling Painting

The full tour took us two hours and was an ideal way to spend the morning.

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A stroll from Downham.

Last week I was out with a group of friends doing a short walk from Downham.one of Lancashire’s prettiest villages. It was also the setting for the classic 1961 film, Whistle Down the Wind.

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Conditions were good as we set off towards Worston although there was lots of evidence of the recent rain.

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We passed under the flanks of Worsaw Hill, prehistoric mound and also with Roman Centurion connections.

From Worston we headed back in a big loop with Pendle Hill looming in the background.

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At one point I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Was that a zebra in the field? No, it was just a horse wearing a stripped blanket.

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A little further on me came to a group of people rebuilding a dry stone wall. Quite a complicated task.

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It had been easy walking with just a couple of awkward stiles. At only 7 miles we were back in plenty of time for a pint at the Assheton Arms Pub.

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Serendipity in the Howgills.

On Sunday I was walking in The Howgills, doing a reccee for Crosby Rambling Club.

Martin is due to lead the ramble next Sunday and we were looking for something in the region of 10 –12 miles with maybe a couple of thousand feet of ascent. Starting from Sedbergh we decided to head out to The Calf and return over Arant Haw. There are few footpaths marked on the map but plenty of tracks on the ground. All you need is clear visibility to follow them. The day started off fine but a yellow weather warning had been issued warning of torrential downpours and thunderstorms in the afternoon. We would not want to be caught out in a thunderstorm on the exposed fells so we had better keep up a good pace.

192 Start of the day

We started our walk from Sedbergh and walked along Howgill Lane to Lockbank Farm where we passed through the farmyard to gain access to the open fell. Out first objective was Winder and according to the map we would pass it on our left before doubling back to reach the summit at 1551 ft. We followed the obvious path and began the long climb, it was a hard slog.

After about 10 minutes I checked my GPS. It showed that we were about 200 yards off the path. A short time later we were 400 yards off track. Was my GPS not accurate or had I lost my navigation skills. Back to basics. My compass indicated that we were heading just east of north which was the direction we wanted. We carried on climbing and eventually a cairn came into view, could it be the summit of Winder. Yes it was. Despite out best efforts to get lost we had found a direct route to the summit. Serendipity.

Just as we approached the summit three ladies came into sight. They were three of our club members doing the recce for the B party walk.

198 At the summit of Winder

The summit of Winder is an excellent viewpoint and the toposcope helped us to identify the main features.

202 Toposcope at Winder

We now headed north-east to join the main path which leads to The Calf. An occasional waypoint indicated the way.

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It was fairly easy walking but we were careful to pick out the track leading to Arant Haw that we would follow on our return. We passed the cairn near Calder passing over Bram Rigg Top we were soon at The Calf.

212 At the summit of The Calf

At 2220 ft, The Calf is the highest point in The Howgills and there are excellent views in all directions. Unfortunately the visibility was not good today and storm clouds were approaching. There were even a few spots of rain.

217 Storm clouds approaching

We retraced our steps and then turned off to our right to follow a grassy track to the summit of Arant Haw at 1989 ft. No path was shown on the map but I was following a description written by Wainwright in his book, ‘Walking the Howgill Fells. What would we do without him.

223 Arrant Haw

There was a small cairn but we carried on along the west ridge to The Nab.

229 The Nab

The clouds had lifted and we could appreciate the view. To the west was the Lakeland Fells, Morecambe Bay and the Lune Valley. To the southeast we could just make out the peaks of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

We descended southeast down the slopes of the Nab towards the intake wall. We knew we had to cross Crosedale Beck. What state would it be in after the heavy rain we have had all week?. There were no problems although we had to be careful at one point. Once we reached the intake walk we followed it back to Lockbank Farm and our car in Sedbergh.

The walk had only been 10 miles but had involved almost 3000 ft of ascent.

Fortunately the rain had held off but we got caught in a downpour as we drove down the M6. Our speed was reduced to 20 mph.

It had been a great day out. All I need now is to replace my energy so that I can do it all again next Sunday.

Posted in Crosby Rambling Club, Cumbria, Photography, Walks | 1 Comment

Flutterbies.

04 Painted Lady

Flutterbies !. OK, I know it should be Butterflies, but I like the name. It seems appropriate as they ‘Flutter By’

This year has seen a massive migration of the Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui.

01 Painted Lady

The species undertakes an extraordinary 7500 mile round trip from Tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle every year. The Female Painted Ladies lay their eggs on thistle plants and a generation of butterflies develop later in the Summer, but the species cannot survive our winter.

02 Painted Lady

This morning I was walking along the beach and through the Hightown Dunes and meadows and there were hundreds of the butterflies on the wing. A migration on this scale has not been seen since 2009.

03 Painted Lady

What will I find next week?

Posted in Butterflies, Hightown Dunes and Meadows, Macro, Natural History, Photography, Sefton Coastline | 1 Comment