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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

About crosbyman66

My aim is to create a photo diary of my walks and my travels. I have two main hobbies, walking and photography and these complement each other. I am a senior citizen, what used to be called an old age pensioner, but I don't feel old. Since retirement I have had more time to pursue my hobbies and the opportunity to travel more. My philosophy now is - Do what you can, while you can. My other interests are fine wines and keeping fit. These may not complement each other but keep me happy.
This entry was posted in Italian Lakes, Lake Como, Photography, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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