What to see and do in Mandello del Lario, a picturesque and colourful village between Lake Como and the Grigne mountains.
In Lombardy, in the province of Lecco, lying on Lake Como and surrounded by mountains, Mandello del Lario is a quiet and colourful village, immersed in an atmosphere of yesteryear. With its privileged geographical location, Mandello is the ideal place to explore the area on foot and enjoy the cool waters and views of the lake. The historical centre and the small mountain hamlets, with their medieval towers, alleys, colourful porticoes and ancient churches, offer interesting cultural attractions. In addition, there is no shortage of opportunities to enjoy excellent lake and mountain cuisine. Let's see together what to do and see in Mandello del Lario!
The historical centre
The small historic centre of Mandello develops along the lake among narrow streets, colourful houses and porticoes. A stroll through the alleys of the centre is always beautiful in any season and ends on the banks of the lake, to admire the views. In the centre, you will come across the Church of San Lorenzo, in Baroque style with a beautiful Romanesque bell tower. Inside you can admire an 18th-century organ of great value. Between one alley and another, small restaurants and bars, for a lunch overlooking the lake or a sunset dinner.
A must-see, a short walk from the centre and the lakefront, is the Sanctuary of Mandello del Lario, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the River. The Mandellesi are very devoted to this sanctuary that was built in the early 17th century, following a miracle that occurred in the area. The octagonal, Baroque-style basilica is adorned with 18th-century frescoes and stucco sculptures. Continuing the walk, you will reach the public gardens and the lakeside promenade with its beautiful little beaches.
Moto Guzzi Museum
Two-wheel enthusiasts should not miss a visit to the Moto Guzzi Museum. Over 150 models of motorbikes of all types are on display here, including the first motorbike built by Carlo Guzzi in 1919. Mandello del Lario is part of the national 'Motor City' circuit, which aims to enhance the Italian motoring heritage, one of the most important in the world. Every year the town hosts the Mandello del Lario International Motorcycle Rally, which welcomes thousands of motorcyclists of all ages!
Mandello's lakefront offers a beautiful promenade and spacious green areas where one can lie and relax in the sun or the shade of trees. There is a large free beach where sunbeds and umbrellas can be hired as well as a playground and various bars for lunch, dinner or aperitifs. The cool waters of the lake invite you to dive in ..., especially after a nice walk in the surrounding mountains!
The Church of San Giorgio
A must-see in Mandello is the Church of San Giorgio. This small church will surprise you with its beauty and the beautiful position in which it stands, along the famous Sentiero del Viandante (Wayfarer's Path). There is no certain information on its date of construction but it was likely built around the 13th century.
It is a classic example of Romanesque, dating back to the early Middle Ages, embellished by a vast cycle of frescoes dated 1475-1485, the work of Piedmontese masters. In its simplicity, it is a very beautiful church, in a peaceful location offering wonderful views of the lake. From here you can then continue on one of the paths through the forest and mountain, leading to other picturesque villages.
The Barbarossa Tower and Maggiana
Maggiana is a hamlet of Mandello del Lario. From Mandello railway station, once you arrive at the Church of San Giorgio, you can reach Maggiana by continuing along the Sentiero del Viandante. Alternatively, from the station, proceed to the cemetery and follow the signs for Maggiana along an asphalt road.
Maggiana is a small medieval village surrounded by mountains, where time seems to stand still. Right in its centre, in an evocative position, stands the Barbarossa tower. This structure, always used for defensive purposes, is known as the Barbarossa Tower because the Germanic Emperor Frederick I, known as 'Barbarossa', took refuge here during his military campaign against Milan. Today, inside the Tower we find the Ethnographic Museum, which tells the story of the village and the way of life of the communities that lived in this area through pictures and ancient objects. At the top of the Tower, there is a beautiful panoramic terrace from which you can admire the lake and the surrounding mountains!
The Wayfarer's Path
Suspended between the mountains and the eastern shore of Lake Como, the Sentiero del Viandante is one of the most beautiful itineraries in Lombardy. The itinerary runs along the entire Lecco side of the lake and touches the villages of Abbadia Lariana, Varenna, Bellano, Dervio and Colico. It is about 45 km long and, depending on training, can be divided into 3 or 4 stages. Thanks to the proximity of the Lecco-Sondrio-Tirano railway line, it is also possible to do one stage at a time, returning by train to the starting point. Moreover, given the modest altitude and the climate mitigated by the presence of the lake, this itinerary is practicable in all seasons. The Sentiero del Viandante (Wayfarer's Path) follows the ancient mule tracks and paths that once connected the villages perched on the Lecco side of the lake and unites the lake and the mountains, offering views and landscapes of great beauty.
In autumn and spring, the absolute best seasons for walking, you can take in the beauty of nature's cycles with the scents and colours of herbs and plants in bloom and the autumn colours that anticipate the winter rest. In summer, temperatures can be very high, but you can take advantage of the cool morning hours, the late afternoon hours and the long evenings in June! Moreover, there is no shortage of small beaches on the lake for a refreshing swim after a nice walk! Finally, even winter, with a bit of luck, can offer beautiful days for walking with the warm air and the warmth of the sun illuminating the surrounding snow-capped peaks.
From Mandello, there are many walks of all levels and suitable for everyone. You can also reach the other villages on the lake such as Bellagio, Abbadia Lariana and Lecco by boat. Come and discover this small colourful village and treat yourself to days of peace and relaxation between the lake and the mountains!