From Lake Como to Lake Lugano along the traces of the railway line
This itinerary follows the traces of the former railway line that ran, from 1884 till 1939, between Menaggio and Porlezza connecting Lake Como with Lake Lugano. The route runs through the Val Menaggio and touches the Lago di Piano Nature Reserve.
Starting point: Menaggio
Length: 13,5 km
Time: 1 hour
The starting point of the route is at the ferry dock of Menaggio, then go up to the Hostel, continue from here straight on and, after 500 m at the bend, turn right and ascend the steep road that leads along the side of Monte Crocetta.
Continue along the slope on the main road 340 the connects Menaggio to Lugano. Following this, pick up the cycle-footpath. The track enters the valley and passes a 90 m long tunnel. It leads onto the SP road of Grandola ed Uniti. Turn right and then immediately left, crossing the village (the road is open to traffic); follow the signs for Bene Lario/Grona and pick up the cycle-footpath on the right.
Near the village of Grona the track is interrupted. Continue to the right and at the intersection pick up the cycle track again straight ahead (sign for Lago di Piano). You enter the Nature Reserve Lago di Piano. You pass behind the campsite and just past its entrance you skirt Lago di Piano. Soon you reach the visitor centre and the information office.
Cross the bridge over the river Cuccio. Follow the course of the river until you reach the main road SP14. Continue to the right for 100 m and then cross the main road and turn to reach the residential complex called “Porto Letizia.” On the left side of the main building take the path that skirts Lake Lugano. Follow it to the centre of Porlezza. Back the same way.
Curiosity: The rail way line between Menaggio and Porlezza was opened in 1884 in order to attract more tourists from northern Europe to the area. Arriving by train to Lugano the tourists were then transported by steam boat to Porlezza from where the train brought them to Menaggio. After the first World War it became a simple working class transit system that lasted till 1939. After the Second World War the train line was abandoned. To connect Menaggio and Cardano, the locomotive was unfastened from the train, placed on a turning platform that inverted the direction; the locomotive got the head of the train and restarted the trip.
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