Sunday, 26 August 2012

Menaggio-Italy | A Gemstone Facing the Enchanting Bellagio Promontory.

Menaggio is a great destination if you are planning holidays to Italy with the great chance to admire a shining gemstone facing the enchanting Bellagio promontory on Lake Como,one of the most stunning scenic sets of the world showing in all its splendour a striking image of a treasure of the world along an extremely inspiring coastline.

That fascinating resort located on the west shore of the Lario is absolutely an unique place well known to boast a marvellous, stylish and romantic lake side promenade and much more one of the best sites to spend great holidays and unforgettable short breaks on the shore of one of the most enchanting waters basin of the globe. 

The presence of a magnificent view towards a striking peninsula on which is situated the pearl of that outstanding diamond consisting in the wonderful town of Bellagio among the most photographed of that sublime Eden makes that site a destination to chose without hesitations.

Located at the mouth of the river Sanagra,not far from the Swiss border and Lake Lugano that municipality part of the province of Como is a very popular and famed resort which offers an excellent range of luxury and iconic Hotels with a more than captivating centre characterised by charming streets and alleys and also for that it considered one of the most picturesque and loved tourist places to spend a wonderful stay delighted by a scenery absolutely magic.
With its approximately 3,300 inhabitants Menaggio is a peaceful and shining oasis for relax, a divine haven to spend outstanding holidays and offering the brilliant chance to practise many outdoor activities adding to many splendid opportunities to enjoy beautiful excursions by boat and lake cruise which is a stupendous experience you will remember for ever.

The immediate surroundings with beautiful  hills with the superb image of the Alps complete a marvellous frame with the stunning chance to enjoy during your stay fabulous landscapes discovering a wonderful natural environment with a multitude of other great attractions and all those outstanding combinations are a delight for every tourist.

Thanks to its panoramic position with astonishing views besides the previously mentioned Bellagio (in the case you desire to know much more about that magic place I wrote a post) and also of the marvellous Varenna which is situated on the other shore of that lake arm corresponding to that of Lecco, relevant centre located on the eastern shore since a long time ago Menaggio was a special place for many prominent figures who could not resist to the immense fascination of that shining jewel of Como Lake.

the resort boasts a stylish waterfront with unique views of a splendid gulf and once there you will breathe there divine sensations and feelings to be in a sort of paradise surrounded by a dreaming atmosphere which transmits dreams but living a magnificent reality.
An amazing lido with pool,a spectacular harbour and a very good number of fine restaurants offering a traditional delicious cuisine are other excellent details who who immediately conquer the visitor and an enjoyable walk on the wonderful Menaggio's promenade is one of the most common and essential activities chosen by tourists during a visit, a mandatory and also as something of usual every day delighting you days ad nights.

There are in addition some wonderful special points from which that stunning views towards that magic and unforgettable Bellagio headland are absolutely outstanding.One of them is immediately close to the famous Gran Hotel Menaggio situated on Via IV Novembre, a pretty long avenue running along the coast and leading to the centre of the town and once there you can start to admire that nature masterpiece in all its beauty.

The second one is approximately 500,0 metres after Via Mazzini a street located in proximity of the port.In that concrete point you can have an ample view of that romantic peninsula, a great corner to stay hours and hours in contemplation  while the third equally striking is along Via Castelli,an artery which is a prolongation of the mentioned  Via Mazzini.Once there you will be fascinated by a further great panoramic sight admiring a shimmering opening of the lake with that distinctive tip as main protagonist.

To complete a sort of set of stages to have a pretty wide introduction of the several   marvellous panoramic views I suggested you a further one. Once reached the Boat Rentals Dock continuing for about other 300/400 metres you will have furthermore another enchanting image of that sublime promontory to immortalise in many other striking photos.

All those places are absolutely inspirational to take unforgettable pictures,more than appropriate for romantic couples who want to stop there living pleasant times delighted by such scenic wonderful masterpiece of nature and including for who loves painting or creating artistic works they are more than perfect corners some absolutely sublime if you are a lover of that kind of art.

Historically the area of the current resort lived a relevant stage under Roman Rule since the 196 BC a period which culminated with the construction of a famed road called Via Regia which translation means main road. Later under Lombard rule that artery was renamed Via Regina meaning Queen Road,a denomination in honour of the Queen Theodelinda.

That former coastal hallway was developed running along the lake shore in correspondence of the current SS 340, the National Road leading to the extreme northern side of that marvellous waters basin reaching the Swiss border.

 According to the first historic documentations that place before the Imperial Rome colonisation the current Menaggio was a Celtic settlement and it was already despite the lack of established roads an important cross point along the lake leading to Switzerland and the Alps.

The local ancient Celts who populated that land of Lombardy were part of a branch closely linked to Insubrian tribes living in that territory and later subjected to the Roman Empire, they faced the Roman occupation including establishing an alliance with the Gauls Coemensis but they were defeat  by the legions of Claudius Marcellus.

The Imperial period was historically the most conspicuous,evidence from tombstones of which the most important is that one of Lucius Minicius Exoratus and in addition worth a special mention the discovery of relevant graves nother considerable founds attesting the relevance of the site in those ancient times.

After the fall of Rome the former settlement was conquered in 476 by the Goths and later by the Byzantines who founded there a new flourishing site  linked to Constantinople capital of the Sacred Empire of Orient

In the next centuries that site became an important and relevant stronghold of the previously cited Lombard,a population of Germanic roots which elevated the current municipality as one of the most active centres of their domains around the lake.

During the period under Frank influence who replaced those previous rulers the former village had substantial reforms and changes so frequent in medieval times applied in the local territory and consisting in a regime mainly based on a total feudalistic system, an event which the entire Lombardy suffered in those times.

In Menaggio took place a construction of a huge strategic network of stoned corners which had the only purpose of dam because they were not essentially established as bastions of protection of the settlement. For that reason only the castle built in that time included walled sections and defencive towers to protect the local boundaries and representing the local fortress and core of military operations.

In the early 12th century the current town was involved in the notorious ten-year war between Como and Milan and concretely in 1295 that manor became a stronghold of the Milanese Matteo Visconti who governed that geographic area establishing on Lake Como a new domain of the Milanese Duchy.

In the course of its history Lake Como including the current resort was theatre of long disputes between the noble and powerful families Rusconi and Vittani,events which generated a very sad atmosphere in the town and  its surroundings.

There was in that period a frequent politic instability and a total absence of  important developments. Furthermore in 1516 the invasion by the Grisons from Switzerland set fire to Menaggio and in different occasions that fortress was devastated.

Those times correspond to the famous many clashes and battles closely related to that famous Religious war between Calvinists and Catholics which determined the defeat of Milan who lost many of its territories in the Swiss Canton Ticino with protagonists many years of devastation marking a very gray historic local page with a multitude of villages and towns ravaged and destroyed. 

Under Spanish rule in the early 16th century in the entire area of the Lario as Lombardy the situation continued as previously with several riots and revolts against the new Aragonese lords.

The same situation was lived during the following French occupation which never had the support by  locals except the high social class which had considerable privileges while the most humble population suffered times characterised by a rigid submission.

All that will last until 1714, two centuries apart changes of rulers, the land was  infested by brigands before to join the first Austrian-Hungarian Empire cycle of occupation when Menaggio was incorporated in that Reign under Vienna influence.

During the first former Austrian domain the situation improved in terms of trade and activities but there was a new change with a new French occupation.In that time the town started to be a real centre of insurgency and much more when the Hapsburg House came back in the early 19th century once again.

The town under that latter governors in 1814 was incorporated in the Regno Lombardo Veneto,the Lombardy and Veneto Kingdom consisting in all the current Northern Italian territories except the regions of Piedmont,Val D´Aosta and Liguria.All that geographic area composed by different realities and cultures was centre of strong movements of insurrection against that pretty rigid domination which is also closely related to that relevant Italian historic period called Risorgimento.

The Hapsburg Royalty imposed a strong regime and created in the current resort a small harbour which became for the Austrian Emperor a strategic sort of ferry port on the shores of Lake Como.

All that happened before the events which led to the new Reign of Italy under Savoy rule after the famous battle of San Fermo in proximity of the city of Como won by the troops of the Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia and last historic step of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in Italy.

In the early 20th century  with the advent of an increasing activity called Tourism started the constructions of the first Hotels in the boundaries of Menaggio and in particular that of the prestigious and famous Hotel Victoria.

The area was already well known since the times of the previous rulers to be a relevant Spa resort characterised by its mild climate and mineral waters, destination of many people all year and naturally the presence of an uncontaminated lake became a great incentive for a multitude of aristocrats and nobles coming from all around Italy and abroad to spend relaxing and unforgettable sojourns.

A historic event although linked to a different reality took place in the resort  in occasion of the 1st World War when  the General Luigi Cadorna  ordered the construction of a system of fortifications consisting in multiple lines on the Mount Crocetta immediately over Menaggio and that defencive network was also used as artillery complex during the 2nd World War and due to that the municipality was a military stronghold of the Savoy House Army.

The resort for its fortunate position,prestige and fame became an important centre,headquarter of several companies and Institutions mainly based in the city of Milan which established on the shores of that lake their offices and branches and since the 30s it also became for period a solid base of propaganda of the new fascist regime.

It is pretty notorious an event which took place in the night of 26th April 1945 when the Dictator Mussolini slept in the headquarter of the Black Brigades established in a elementary school of Menaggio groped before the flight shortly after 200 partisans led by the Colonel Luigi Villani who freed the town.

The establishments of other comfortable and splendid Hotels due to an always increasing demand helped in the course of the post war times to place that gemstone called Menaggio as a major tourist destination in Italy all year,especially in spring and summer seasons and the advent of a solid network of structures linked to the Hotel and Hospitality Industries elevated the resort as a Top destination.

The wonderful lake shore promenade with its stunning gardens continuously enriched by blooming flowers beneath the cool shade of trees begins at the port and takes the edge of the town on which are situated  the beach Lido Giardino and a mini golf course attracting a multitude of people.

An intact beautiful old centre whose its captivating stoned houses were built around the walls of the former manor give the town prestige and an image of exclusive destination also for such scenic environment which immediately capture the attention of every visitor so close to that marvel consisting in a more than fascinating lake.

It is not a case that due to all those superb features prominent characters related to the highest international nomenclature as Winston Churchill,the Norwegian Royal Family but also Johan Wolfgang Goethe and Adenauer among many other famous figures of very high ranking chose Menaggio as one of their favourite destinations in Italy.

The charming historic centre flanked by the beach,packed by cosy bars and fine restaurants are located in or around the captivating main square Piazza Garibaldi considered the core and beating heart of the municipality is a delight for every tourist and  from there starts a maze of picturesque narrow streets forming a splendid scenery delighting the view of many people.

Very interesting and with a relevant historic value is the Chiesa di Santo Stefano,the Church dedicated to St. Stephen built in the 18th century over the ancient rests of a previous Religious building.That sacred construction consists in three naves and curiously its original structure is now hidden restored and rebuilt even the orientation is directed in the opposite direction of the original one.

Inside you can admire beautiful  frescoes by the master Tagliaferri and several works of great artists of Lombard and Flemish school.Another highlight is absolutely the main altar which is surrounded by copper medallions dated the 18th century and worth a mention a splendid crucifix dating back the year 1539.

Above the altar at the head of the left aisle was placed a copy of a painting by Bernardino Luini depicting the Virgin Mary with Jesus and an Angel which replaced the original one which was ceded to France in exchange of the promise of transfer of the District Court from Tremezzo to Menaggio.

In the nearest Via Calvi is situated the Chiesa di Santa Marta,the Church dedicated to St.Martha which is a beautiful example of Lombard art.Established in the 19th century probably over a previous existing there it was elevated in the middle ages.

Simply beautiful is its high light gable facade highlighted by a fine rose window and decorated borders along the outlines of the front side completed on its sides by the presence of two sort of captivating turrets.On the facade you will notice the presence of a tombstone,a memorial plaque of Lucius Minicius Exoratus dating back the 1st century and above you will see the effigy of the castle of Menaggio which became the municipal Coat of Arms.

The fine architectonic lines and a very charming layout of all the elements of that Church flanking a line of captivating buildings form a splendid visual scenic setting more than attractive.

Notable is also the interior and it deserves to be seen with a beautiful nave, walls and ceiling greatly painted by frescoes and simply great is the Baroque altar established in the apse beneath an ample domed niche in which lies a splendid altarpiece.As further highlight  that Sacred building also contains valuable paintings including a Nativity and a Flagellation dating back the 18tth century.

Very close you can have a pleasant walk along Via Castellino a very interesting street on the way to the fortress which dominates the town and along it you can admire different houses with splendid portals before to reach another charming street called Via Strecioum. At the corner of it you can see the birthplace of Gabriele Malagrida, a Jesuit monk martyred in Lisbon 1761 during the period related to the despotic regime of the Marquis of Pombal.

The castle of Menaggio however is dated the 10th century is situated on the cliff above the river Senagra and it offers the visitor a glimpse of what must have been in medieval times.Today that ancient and impenetrable stronghold only kept two towers while the walls and the bridge were dismantled by the Swiss Grisons League in 1523.

Another historic site worth a mention is  the Chiesa di San Carlo,a Church devoted to St.Charles built over some ruins of the castle by Cinzio Calvi in the early 17th century.Ended in 1614 that Sacred building is situated in a small square and accessible by a little stoned step.

It is a magnificent stoned construction elevated on a rectangular base with a high stoned gable facade and a beautiful framed portal beneath a blind arch completed by a belfry with a vague Spanish inspiration.

The interior is also pretty attractive consisting in a nave with aisles with some chapels containing some fine works by artists of Lombard School.A curious detail is that such Church was originally elevated as burial temple to host the tombs of the architect and his wife Caterina Camozzi.

A special feature which makes much more attractive that site is its picturesque location enclosed between two strong high walls and facing a captivating cobblestone square which transmits a sensation of a sort of jump in the past with those traditional enchanting medieval settings created in captivating corners using the stone as main material of construction.

 Another considerable Religious monument is the Santuario della Madonna della Pace, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace,erected in 1659 to celebrate the Peace of the Pyrenees.

Situated in a magnificent green environment and elevated on an octagonal plan,the facade represents a superb architectural masterpiece with a splendid exterior layout composed by several elements  placed with excellent criteria and symmetry.

The light front side is highlighted by a pretty large portico with columns with capitals forming an ample arcade and beneath a domed roof is situated the main access to the interior by a beautiful framed wooden doorway.The stylish roof is completed by the presence of a small belfry and behind you will notice a cylindrical turret covered by a domed dark roof.

The interior is also artistically very captivating with light immaculate walls and a nave leading by the central hallway to a wonderful altar placed in a spacious apse beneath an attractive decorated domed ceiling.Outstanding are the lines of the vaults perfectly in harmony with the tonalities and colours of the painted decorations and the arrangement of the spaces strategically filled by fine paintings.

A great facility from Menaggio is undoubtedly that to explore and discover in avery short time by ferry that pearl of Lake Como called Bellagio landing on that enchanting promontory and enjoying the immense beauty of that resort. The magnificent Varenna also located on the opposite shore is another superb destination.

The town is one of the strategic points to reach those marvels very fast, it is linked to other fabulous destinations by excellent services of boats and hydrofoils by the shipping line of Lake Como-Colico and ferries with connections to other  lake resorts.

All that is a fantastic experience,there are authentic little diamonds along all the Lario coastline,all to discover and remember,places absolutely unforgettable for their divine and immense beauty.

I suggest you another excursion in the neighbourhood of Loveno located on the heights above the resort where is situated the magnificent Villa Mylius Vigoni. That wonderful neoclassic mansion is well known to be today seat of  of an Italian-German foundation and it was erected in a magnificent park which holds a lot of species of beautiful plants,some of them very rare.

The Villa was acquired 1829 by a German entrepreneur and banker called Erich Mylius and from him the current name, a stupendous building which in the course of its history was enlarged and modelled by several works of restoration to preserve that construction which is also part of the historic local heritage patrimony.

Menaggio just like all the towns along the shores of Como lake offers the tourists the great opportunity to practise different kinds of water sports on that magnificent waters basin such as sailing,rowing and diving all activities which found since a long time ago the perfect habitat with a lot of people loving all the services and facilities the local operators offers, another activity which created an iconic tradition on the waters of that stunning wonder.

That stupendous resort is also well known for its Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club founded in 1907 by an English gentleman,one of many who loved to spend his holidays on Lake Como during the late 19th century.

That famed Club is a cradle of golf in typical British-style overlooking that superb lake with a natural path and highlighted by   a stunning natural environment and the course was redesigned  1965 by John Harris in occasion of an invitation by the President Antonio Roncoroni.

In the halls of that famous Institution dotted with fine vintage prints as the picture of Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews,the history of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, RAL Burnett donated in 1985 to the Club to seal a historic friendship between those two prestigious Clubs.

The area around the resort  offers a number of splendid trails and ideal places for all people who love trekking especially from the previously mentioned Loveno there is a splendid path leading to the beautiful Sanagra Valley highlighted by a beautiful nature park.That is a great occasion to discover and explore a wild area admiring superb landscapes and a more than brilliant chance also to immortalise those picturesque places in infinite sets of memorable pictures.

That lakeside destination is also a popular centre for mountain bikers thanks to a territory which is perfect for that cycling speciality thanks to a wide network of dirt,mixed and challenging trails with also the opportunity to reach from the shore of the lake high summits crossing immaculate scenic green forests.

For who loves hiking I suggest you to visit  two refuges climbing the Monte Grona at 1736,0 metres of altitude situated to the northwest side of the municipality.

 After a two-hours climb you can reach the Rifugio Menaggio while the other  is the Refuge Sommafiume, another interesting place,the access is pretty difficult and after walking many hours you can reach that site located in the Alta Via at 1786,0 metres, those destinations are recommended for very experienced hikers.

To the western side of the centre lies the Valle Menaggio crossed by  the national road SS 340 connecting the town to Switzerland.That valley is also known as Val Porlezza, it is over 10,0 kilometres long placed in a depression between the southern slopes of the latest rocky promontory called Costone di Bregagno and the northern slopes of the Alpine foothills with the scenic peak called Monte Galbiga. Visiting those places will be a further enjoyable experience for all people who love nature, panoramic views, photography and trekking.

Very interesting and not far from the town  is a place named Grandola a charming village situated at the top of a rocky mountain of the Val Senagra,a splendid natural oasis of peace with a rich rich fauna and a great variety of vegetation.

Before reaching the magnificent town of Porlezza I recommend a lot, a stunning place on the Italian shore of Lake Lugano (I wrote a post if you are interested) worth a visit the small lake Lago del Piano, a beautiful small basin of alluvial origin which is in its kind one of the hidden gems of the local area. Unknown by many that tiny lake is situated at an altitude of 276,0 metres and it is a sort of natural prolongation of Lake Ceresio.

It has a surface of 0,72 square kilometres, its maximum depth is approximately of 13,0/14,0 metres,it is part of an established nature reserve with the name of the basin and in the shade of the previously mentioned Monte Galbiga which with its 1698,0 metres  next to other scenic and wild heights form a fairytale scenery with that stunning mountainous crown flanking that captivating tiny gem.

From there you can also reach the mouth of the stream Civagno which has its source on the summit of the Monte di Tremezzo, a height which is part of that chain which separates the province of Como to the Swiss Canton of Ticino and with its 1700,0 metres is another destination for enthusiastic trekkers and photographers.

That area is very attractive for its verdant pastures but with an immediate proximity of scattered wild crags,rocky spurs and ravines created by a secular erosion and also characterised by long and narrow gorges some of them extremely impressive.

The western side of the territory belonging to the basin of Lake Lugano is longer and elevated and it is crossed by the wild River Cuccio which descends from the valley Val Rezzo Cavargna with the opportunity to see that stream which runs through the valley of the same name. 

In some points that stream shows its wildest image flanking spectacular cliffs entering in the shade of green forests and appearing in a while falling along rocky walls so due the proximity also that area is highly suggested to visit if you want to admire something absolutely stunning. 

Among many events which occur in the town every summer you will have the choice of a good number of cultural appointments pretty relevant. The popular Menaggio Guitar Festival has a notable resonance on international scale,  well known to be directed by the Italian-Argentinian Sergio Fabian Lara,a very talented South American composer and musician. It is a famed festival that in different editions hosted  famous guitarists such as Roman Bunka,Franco Cerri,Martin Taylor,Peter Hittlinger among others.

Another important mandatory is the Festival dei Fiori,the Flower Festival which opens summer season with music and a very lively atmosphere. It consists in several flowers stalls and linked to many other activities highlighting a weekend very vibrant in its kind due to a notable participation of locals and tourists.  

Worth a mention Art Visual Gallery,an active  Institution of Menaggio which organises several expositions regarding art,culture,tourism and leisure in different periods of the year.

Cuisine of  Lake Como has its traditional character and it combines the products of its interior with those of its waters.Focused on grilled,fried and marinated fish, a very typical recipe is the Missoltini consisting in lake fish served au gratin prepared with oil and vinegar,fried with butter and sage and famous to be also marinated during a phase of its process of preparation.

 Also excellent is the famous Pesce Persico, perch cut in fillets grilled or baked and using that mentioned kind of fish you can try the traditional and delicious Risotto al Pesce Persico. Another delectable one is the famed and delicious Lavarello a local kind of whitefish prepared in many styles such as smoked,  grilled or baked using butter and sage to flavour it.

The polenta is another iconic local highlight and it is cooked with cheese,  melted butter, fresh mushrooms in sauce but also with red meats. Great is furthermore with stewed cod or also combined with local pork sausages called Luganighe or accompanied by a  Spezzatino di Manzo a superb beef casserole absolutely delicious.

Outstanding is the ample variety of cheeses with the famous Taleggio as one of the main protagonists but also the goat cheeses of Valsassina, the Zincarlin a kind of spicy ricotta seasoned with olive oil and pepper deserve a special mention.

About bakery and sweets,try the Paradel delicious fruit fritters and the Cutizza a sort of local sweet Focaccia prepared using eggs and sugar.

In the case you are planning a stay on the stupendous Lake Como and especially in Menaggio, I added some links to have many information and I included some Hotels pretty suggested for comfort, position, services and quality.

The nearest Airports are Milano Malpensa which is a first great option thanks also low costs and a splendid alternative could be also the Swiss Airport of Lugano Agno.Malpensa International Airport is located at 55,0 kilometres taking the Motorway A9 Como-Chiasso well known asMilano-Laghi.

The  exit is at Como corresponding to the last exit in Italian territory before to reach the frontier of Switzerland. Once in the boundaries of that city when you will reach a roundabout in the capital of the Lario follow the indication to Menaggio taking the SS340 National Road directly leading to that gemstone facing the enchanting Bellagio promontory.

Lugano Agno Airport is approximately 35,0 kilometres away.If you are coming from Switzerland driving,take the exit Lugano Nord and from there follow the indications to Gandria - St.Moritz and once you have crossed Lugano you have to follow the indication to Menaggio. After passing through the border at Gandria you will take the national road SS.340 to Menaggio -Como and you will be at destination in a very easy way.

Menaggio is a wonderful destination,Lake Como is a jewel to discover day by day, minute by minute and metre by metre.,a great place to enjoy all year for its superb landscapes,verdant mountains,aristocratic villas and picturesque perched villages on natural promontories with those picturesque cliffs overlooking unforgettable waters and in all its splendour Menaggio is one of its most enchanting places.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Hotels in Menaggio 

Grand Hotel Victoria  
Hotel Garni Corona 
Hotel Du Lac 
Hotel Royal 
Hotel Garden 
Hotel Merloni 

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Thanks a lot to read and note.