August 24, 2016

Could we get much higher?

A trip to the Stelvio National Park, Val Malenco and Lake Como; summer 2016.

We started our trip from Milan Malpensa airport. Rented a car and drove north to lake Iseo, where we spent the first night (unmemorable hotel).

The preceding day, we drove to the Stelvio National park. Stoped for lunch at Frazenshöhe Berghotel (2188 m), right after passing the Stelvio pass.
Lunch at Frazenshöhe Berghotel (2188 m) on our way to Sulden/Solda.
We continued on to Sulden/Solda, in Südtirol, where we spent 3 nights - and 2 amazing mountain hikes. Next, we spent 2 nights in Chiareggio, a tiny town in the Alps by the Swiss border.
And finally, we spent one week in Tremezzo, on the western shore of Lake Como.

View itinerary

Sulden (called Solda in Italian) is a mountain town in the Stelvio national park, in South Tirol, at 1900 m above sea level, and lies at the foot of the Mount Ortler (at 3905 m). 

Sulden is a mountain town at 1900 m - it features a green fish pond; you can watch the fish, but not fish.

Sulden, with Mount Ortler in the background..
In Sulden, we had not pre-booked a hotel, but we used the app as a guide and chose the Hotel Sport Robert, due to good reviews.

It turned out to be a great choice. We booked the half-pension deal, which meant breakfast and dinner - which turned out to be fabulous six course meals! 

We received a nice spacious room with a veranda and amazing view to Mount Ortler. Beds came with duvets. The hotel is close to everything in Sulden. Very nice and personal service. The hotel features a hot tub - but it was a bit too hot for my taste.

Hike from Sulden to Düsseldorferhütte
We used the Cicerone guide book: “Walking in Italy’s Stelvio National Park” to plan our hikes.

But that said, everything is very well organized with signs which are easy to follow. The paths were good and dry, and light hiking shoes were sufficient as the weather was dry and sunny.

Day one we hiked from Sulden to the Düsseldorferhütte (2721 m) where we had lunch with a view. 

We hiked from Sulden to the Düsseldorferhütte (2721 m)


On the plateau behind the Düsseldorferhütte.

Hiking to the Düsseldorferhütte.
From Sulden to Tabarettahütte
Day two we hiked from Sulden to the Rifugio Tabaretta (2556 m), in Mount Ortler. 

On our way to Rifugio Tabaretta. The signs are easy to follow.
Rifugio Tabaretta (2556 m)

Rifugio Tabaretta and Mount Ortler.

The path to Rifugio Tabaretta is quiet steep.

After spending 3 nights in Sulden, we hit the road, and drove to Merano, we saw the town, had lunch, and hit the road again.

The river Adige runs through Merano

Merano is surronded by mountains.
Merano's coat of arms depicts the red Tyrolean eagle sitting on a wall with four pieces of Ghibelline battlements and three arches that symbolize the city (Source: Wikipedia).
Val Malenco and Chiareggio
From Merano, we drove south west, throug the Stelvio pass, while we planned our next destination.
We wanted to remain in the mountains but preferably somewhere closer to Lake Como. On the map, we spotted a road to the north from Sondrio, through Val Malenco, which seemed to end very close to the Swiss border but with no road connection to Switzerland. 

After driving farther and farther on a narrow winding road into the Alps, we found ourselves in a tiny, quircky mountain town called Chiareggio. Luckily, there were a couple of hotels in town and we found a vacancy at the Albergo Genziana which we booked for two nights.
Chiareggio in Val Malenco.

Taking shelter from the thunderstorm

The next day, we woke up to a bright morning, perfect for a hike. First, we walked up to a very green lake, called Pirola. As we arrived, the sky grew black and suddenly, a thunderstorm was upon us. We hurried down below the tree line.
As we arrived at lake Pirola, the sky grew black and suddenly, a thunderstorm was upon us.

We were soaked as we reached the Rifugio Gerli e Porro, where we were warmly welcomed by the host, who showed us a room to dry our clothes, and even offered us crocks to wear while drying our shoes. We were served a hearty meal of polenta with cheese, steak with dark brown gravy and beer. What a treat! After drying up a bit, we moved on.

At the Rifugio Gerli e Porro we were served a hearty meal of polenta with cheese, steak with dark brown gravy and beer.
After drying up, we moved on. Signs were easy to follow.
  The rest of the hike we spent in the lower mountain areas, exploring Val Malenco.

Lake Como
The next morning, we drove from Chiareggio to Tremezzo, on the western shore of lake Como. We had pre-booked a room at Hotel Villa Marie for one week. Our all time favorite hotel!

We spent one week enjoying lake Como, and had a few great hikes in this area as well.
Lake Como
Hotel Villa Marie - our all time favourite hotel.
The view from our room in the annex building at Hotel Villa Marie

Greenway del Lago di Como
Our first Como walk was the Greenway del Lago di Como; an easy stroll of 10,5 km along the lake, from Colonno in the south to Menaggion in the north. Tremezzo, our hotel is about half way along the Greenway.   

Along the Greenway del Lago di Como
The Greenway del Lago di Como is a nice walk by the lake for 10 km, from Colonno to Mennaggio.

Hiking above the lake
We also enjoyed a few higher altitude walks. 

One was towards Monte Crocione, the mountain behind Tremezzo. A strenous walk, where we passed throug a pitch black walking tunnel of 120 meters, built during World War I.

A second walk was to the San Benedetto Monastery above Lenno at approximately 817 metres above sea level. It was built in the 11th century. 

You can get information about both of these walks from the tourist office, which is situated on the ferry dock in Tremezzo.

San Benedetto Monastery.

Towards Monte Crocione we passed throug a pitch black walking tunnel of 120 meters, built during World War I.
The Plinio restaurant in Lenno has good food and a nice atmosphere, and you can dine on the boardwalk (book table outside). Lenno can be reached by sea, by the ferry from Tremezzo. (You can get there by the road too, but the sea-way is a lot more charming.)

We also enjoyed the view from the terrace of Trattoria Rana above Tremezzo.

Plinio restaurant at the boardwalk in Lenno.
View from Trattoria Rana.
Taking the ferry to dinner at Plinio restaurant in Lenno.

Around lake Como
There are little towns around the lake which are nice to visit by the ferry. From Tremezzo, it is easy to reach the mid lake towns like Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio, by the frequent ferrys.

Moreover, Como town, all the way south, is a larger town, very nice for shopping av dining.

Como town is a larger town at the southern end of the lake.

The public park in Tremezzo is beautifull and very well kept. It has stone steps to swim from.