Assuming you are based in Menaggio and would like to venture out and discover more of the surrounding area, I would like to suggest a two and a half to three hour walk along the ancient Roman Road ‘Antica Strada Regina’. According to local history, the road was built around the year 15BC at the request of either Queen Teolinda, or more likely, the Emperor Augustus XVI and is part of the original route from Milan via Como, alongside the western shore of the lake to Chiavenna and then beyond through Alpine passes, to Northern Europe.
The State Road 340, on the western shore, is still called Strada Regina today. The ‘Antica Strada Regina’, which was in full use until the end of the 18th century, still follows parts of the present day road but mostly runs parallel to it at an average height of 300m.
A good start to your day would be a nice, relaxing breakfast in one of the cafes on the Piazza Garibaldi. From there a pleasant stroll, north along the promenade ‘Lungo Lago Castelli’ and past the Lido. Tip: Some signposts along the route to Rezzonico read “il sentiero del giubileo 2000” and some say “resti dell’Antica Strada Regina” – look out for them. Continuing along the Via Roma, turn right onto Via Cipressi and just beyond the campsite Europa you will find yourself at the main road where you can follow the right-hand pathway to the entrance of the tunnel. There is a pedestrian walkway to the right of the tunnel; it will guide you back to the main road again. To be safe, cross the road and follow the walkway. After around 150m you will take the street to the left which leads to the Carabinieri station (up a hill), and the centre of Nobiallo a former fisherman’s village. Features of the village of Nobiallo are the 13th century church of Saints Bartholomeo and Nicolao, with its leaning bell tower, and the ‘Santuario della Madonna della Pace’ dating back to 1660 which is just outside the village.
From Nobillo the ‘Vecchia Strada Regina’ starts to climb the area of ‘Sasso Rancio’ where in the 18th and 19th century there were iron mines. The Villa La Gaeta, dating back to the 1920s, and famous for its role in the James Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’ sits on the waters’ edge. It can be seen from the track; most people only see it clearly from the vantage point of a boat on the lake. Why not book one of the apartments in the Villa La Gaeta for your next stay at the lake?
From here you continue straight on down the pathway which eventually becomes quite steep as it leads down to the former lakeside road. This is the old road that was used before the tunnels were built. Follow this road for about 30 metres, at which point you will find a track that will lead you above the tunnel and through the woods to the town of Acquaseria. You will cross the bridge over the River Serio to reach the town centre. Continue through Acquaseria, walking to the right of the church of St. Abbondio and follow Via Regina Margherita; take a right at the fork in the road at the edge of town. This will lead you to the village of Molvedo by way of a cobbled track. In Molvedo the path is interrupted by the gardens of Villa Camilla, but you can pick it up again after about 50 metres at the bottom of some steps at the far perimeter of the villa fence.
Continue along the ‘Antica Strada Regina’ on the cobbled track until you arrive at Rezzonico where you can walk down to its beautiful harbor. Walk under the portico of the alley which leads up to the castle of Rezzonico with its 14th century tower. From here you can reach the main road and take the C10 bus back to Menaggio for a well-earned rest.