15 April 2024

A colour so intense, a calm so flat, a silence so penetrating: one of the rare positive memories that the pandemic has left the people of Lake Como was the chance to see their natural habitat completely cleansed of the pollution and frenzy that threatens to damage it. Grateful that we are now back to post-lockdown normality let us try to imagine (and recreate) such a pure lake system, simply by living a life or holiday in the green possibile.

Our sustainable journey begins first of all by choosing our vehicle Having left the car in the garage, there are actually many possibilities to move between Como, Lecco, Bellagio and Colico (the ‘cardinal points’ of Lake Como) without fossil fuels. It just takes a little extra time The lake environment allows you first to explore the solidity of the soil and the fluidity of the water, so between walks, bike rides, sailing or electric boat crossings slow and healthy movement is guaranteed.

A land of ‘mountains springing from the water, and raised to the sky’*, the hiking itineraries on Lake Como run along the shores at different heights, with varying degrees of difficulty, but always with the possibility of continuing for long stretches or remaining in the surroundings of one of the many small municipalities that make up the Lake Como geography. So, by choosing the Greenway, we skim along the lake along the ancient Via Regina from Colonno to Griante, discovering the history of many hamlets, interspersed with the most famous stops, for example in front of Isola Comacina or inside Villa Carlotta. Let’s change branches, increase the kilometers, climb slightly in altitude: the Sentiero del Viandante stretches from Lecco to Colico (49 km) but can be covered in stages, then taking advantage of the train and ferry connections to return home or continue the journey. If, on the other hand, you want to look at everything from above, perhaps combining the effort and satisfaction of reaching one or more peaks, the Dorsale del Triangolo Lariano connects the lighthouse of San Maurizio to Brunate (reachable by funicular from Como) to the Bellagio peak with a walk along the ridge, to be tackled prepared and informed, but also adaptable to a slow pace and time.

Perhaps not everyone knows that Lake Como is also a stage destination for all cycling enthusiasts: the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Ghisallo, in Magreglio, stands at the top of one of cycling’s iconic climbs and protects both great champions and cycling tourists Without reaching the levels of Magni, Coppi and Nibali (whose exploits are recounted in the Cycling Museum next to the Sanctuary), it is possible for everyone to pedal up and down the Lario. In recent years, given the increase in traffic on roads that are certainly not wide, various tourist and sports operators have organised for real ‘social riding’ to make the cycling experience a shared moment of discovery. By taking advantage of mid-week outings and secondary, but equally scenic routes (which can also be travelled thanks to the advent of electric bikes and versatile gravel bikes), one can complete the entire Lake Como tour.

The lake, however, is mostly water, and since the beginning of time it has travelled far and wide (strictly following the directives of Breva and Tivano, the Lario winds) to transport cargo and people. The large sails of the comballi, work boats of the past, now spin on faster, lighter hulls in the many ‘wind havens’, especially in the upper lake area. Domaso, Dervio, Bellagio are among the harbours where it is possible to set sail independently or with professional skippers, turning off the engine and the noise. In addition to pollution, a major environmental problem for Lake Como is the powerful wave motion created by the unstoppable passage of motorboats: the shores suffer a lot from the continuous impact and rocking and a gentle sailing could help them to calm down a little. In addition to sailing and the more athletic rowing, for some years now there has been talk of electric-powered mobility also on the lake: the Electric Yachting event promoted in the prestigious setting of Villa d’Este in the last two years has brought together institutions and private individuals who are moving in this direction, including, of course, Navigazione Laghi and companies such as the historic Cantiere Ernesto Riva, among the first and few to build full electric touring boats and in line with the Lario’s nautical tradition.

After so much walking, cycling and sailing, a stop for a refreshing lunch is inevitable. It was precisely food that was one of the first sectors to introduce the concept of ‘km 0’, so on our green journey it comes naturally to seek out typical products. green, viene naturale cercare i prodotti tipici. On Lake Como, this search certainly does not sacrifice variety and taste. Lake fish, of course: the agone, better known in the ‘missoltino’ version, that is dried in the open air and then eaten, well toasted, with polenta; the lavarello, often in carpione; the persico fish, protagonist of the most famous risotto on these shores. The demand for these specialities is often too high for the catch, which also has its seasonality, so it is doubly useful to know and obtain supplies from local fishmongers and workshops. The cheeses, too, go a short way, this time starting from the mountain pastures of the Lake Como area: taleggio, robiola, gorgonzola from Valsassina, zincarlin from Val d’Intelvi, semuda from Alto Lario. Thanks to the characteristic terracing, the expertise of companies, consortia and even individual citizens, it is increasingly easy to have wine and oil produced on Lake Como on the table. Lake Como, proof and benefit of the right balance between land and cement.

Energy efficiency in homes and accommodation would be the right end of our journey and everyday life. From the most substantial building choices (photovoltaics, insulation, eco-friendly materials, light-flooded spaces) to small small routine actions (ecological cleaning products, drip irrigation, separate waste collection and recycling), more and more hotels and homes are focusing on sustainable comfort.

Open the window of your room, the view you see is also up to you: the red of the sunset painting villages that give way to green and disappear into the dark blue of a lake that ripples only at its whim.


-Francesca Caminada

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