After two days cruising around the lake I was ready for a walk. For the past week my eyes had been drawn to the mountains and to the little church of San Martino perched on the slopes of Sasso San Martino above Griante. It seemed in an impossible position but I must find a way up to it.
I managed to obtain a leaflet containing the route description from the tourist information office in Tremezzo and set off along the Via Selve di Rogero which is directly opposite the office. The steep cobble stone alley led me to the village of Rogero and the square containing the church of the Madonna di Einsiedeln.
Walking along the road I passed a recreation area and then turned off onto a dirt track signposted – San Martino. I now had my first clear view of the church.
The path descended into a small valley and then ascended the other side using steep steps. There followed an easier section alongside a flower meadow where there were lots of wild flowers and butterflies. Another steep section brought me close to the rocky face of Sasso San Martino and I now had superb views over the lake.
The path now joined the main track leading up from Griante and it was only a short distance to the church. Along the way I passed several small chapels decorated with mosaics representing various stages of Christ’s life.
Eventually I arrived at the church. It had taken me 2.30 hours. According to my route description the whole walk should only take this long. Perhaps they ran it, or did not stop to take photos.
The San Martino church was built in the XVI century to house the wooden statue of the 14th century representing the Madonna with Child. The legend tells us that the statue was found in the 16th century by a shepherd girl in a cave in the mountains where it was put a century before by an inhabitant of Menaggio when the town was destroyed by the Grigioni. The statue was brought down to the parish church where it miraculously disappeared and was found again on the Sasso San Martino. This was interpreted as the desire of Maria to be venerated on the mountain. First a small shrine was built and then the church.
I spent some time by the church getting my breath back and admiring the view. It was a perfect spot to look down on Bellagio and to see the eastern arm of the lake stretching down to Lecco.
I was way behind schedule so I returned along the cobbled track leading to Griante. There were many more shrines along the way and also a chapel, the Cappella degli Alpini, dedicated to S Carlo.
Three and a half hours after setting out I was back at the hotel and fancied a beer. I tried the Castello, a quite dark beer. The first one slid down, as did the second. I took my time over the third. I discovered that the beer was 6.4% ABV. I suddenly felt tired. It must have been the walking.