Parco Regionale della Grigna Settentrionale

Bellano - Riva di Gittana - Gittana - Regoledo - Gisanzio - Bologna - Esino Lario - Alpe di Esino - Forcella dell'Alpe - Pina di San Pietro - Ortanella - Selva - Guillo - Strada del Monte Fopp - Alpe di Fopp - Croce di Fopp - Vezio - Varenna - Bellano

  • Trail Conditions: By bike
  • Departure: Stazione F.S. di Bellano (202m)
  • Arrival: Stazione F.S. di Bellano (202m)
  • Length: 26 km
  • Difference in height: about 1,270m; Highest point: 1,171m (Alpe di Esino)

Visiting this slope of Lario missing the wonderful descent going from Ortanella to Varenna, it would be like visiting Rome without seeing the Coliseum...
We suggest a ring-route with the first stretch of the uphill path - the most difficult stretch - developing along a panoramic and not very busy asphalt road with a never exaggerated slope. The last 300m develop along a steep mule track and will make things hard even for the most well-trained cross-country riders. The downhill path, mainly developing along a guided single-track, is varied and funny, not too difficult, but with some short demanding stretches and breathtaking views over the lake and Varenna.

After leaving from the car park of Bellano railway station (202m), take the SP road to the south (to Varenna) and follow it up to loc. Riva di Gittana. Turn right (always following the asphalt road) and continue to Gittana (322m) - Regoledo (558m) - Bologna (617m). Once you get to the junction leading on the left to Bologna town center, go down right and you will shortly meet the SP road to Esino: go left, this time along an uphill stretch, until you reach the town of Esino Lario (834m).
Here, after crossing the Town Hall square (fountain), take the first road on the right (to Ortanella); after about one kilometer, in loc. Bigallo, turn left and take the beautiful paved mule track which shortly becomes rather steep (to Alpe di Lierna).
Then follow the directions to Alpe di Esino: you will reach the Alpe after about 30' of uphill road (follow the trail marker no. 71). Here the forest gives way to a large clearing (Alpe di Esino, 1,171m, highest point), where you can stop and admire the green surrounding slopes.
After leaving the Alpe, after about 700m you will reach Forcella dell'Alpe (1,125m) along the sheep track which, in the meanwhile, has become a downhill single-track. Turn left (westwards) and follow the directions to Ortanella: here you will enjoy a spectacular panorama.
After a first downhill stretch characterized by some technical passage, the trail continues with some ups and downs and then down again to Prati di San Pietro, where we recommend a visit to the charming small church (road signs to Ortanella always present). Go along the main sheep track across meadows (turn right, then left along "Sentiero del Viandante"), and you will shortly reach Prati di Ortanella, where, if you love fine cuisine, you will have the opportunity to have lunch in one of the local structures. After refreshing yourself, go ahead beyond the houses of Guillo (trail marker "Sentiero del Viandante"): after the first flat stretch running along some houses, the road "interpoderale del Monte Fopp" (go beyond the barrier) starts climbing and in a few minutes leads to a junction: turn right, downhill, always following "Sentiero del Viandante".
The downhill stretch is well-marked and offers exciting passages and breathtaking views. The trail, sometimes easy and sometimes more demanding, is characterized by some exposed points where you need to be careful.
Moreover, you should also consider that along the itinerary you may meet hikers on foot.
Once you get to Vezio and the homonymous castle (entrance on payment), go ahead along the alleys and staircases of the town of Varenna and go down to the lake.
The return journey to Bellano will take place along the SP road (turn right and go northwards following the road signs).

Trail Markers: Sentiero del Viandante is well-marked from Ortanella with special arrow-shaped vertical signs on a red background. From Alpe di Esino to Prati di Ortanella follow the trail no. 71.


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