www.breaks-italian-lakes.com

Places To Visit & Things To Do

Introduction
The Apartment & Village
Rental Rates & Availability
Places To Visit & Things To Do
Lake Como
Milan, Bergamo & Surrounding Area
Skiing & Other Snow Sports
Switzerland
Other Places Of Interest
Contact Us

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Valchiavenna Region
 
The Valchiavenna is located in Lombardy, not far from Milan.  The country is rich in tradition, natural and artistic beauty, gastronomy, handicrafts and offers a wide range of opportunites to explore the Italian culture.
 
During the warmer seasons walking, canyoning, cycling and horse riding are just some of the ways to discover this beautiful valley, which through the centuries was passed by horsemen, pilgrims, entire populations, poets and common travellers.

Lago di Mezzola
 
"Pian di Spagna", as it is known locally, is a wide plain between the Lake of Mezzola and the Lake of Como, which is at the entrance of the Valchiavenna valley and is located just across the road from the apartment.
 
Its a wetland of great naturalistic importance in the area.  Part of the lake is mainly overgrown with canes, mixed with broad-leaf wood, wide pasture areas and corn fields.  Its the perfect place for many nesting birds and is therefore an ideal setting for people who love nature and want to enjoy a day observing.
 
The lake also offers a ideal destination to relax by the waters edge, with ample sun beds provided free of charge.  Swimming is permited in the lake and during the hot summer season its a perfect way to cool down. 
 
If you feel like exploring then why not walk from the lake to the small temple of San Fedelino, built shortly before the year 1,000.  The temple can also be reached by boat from the lake (see more information about the Temple of San Fedelino below)
 
Children will love the local park whilst you sit and relax, taking in the amazing views. 

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Relaxing at Lago di Mezzola
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A stunning view of the lake at sunset

The Temple of San Fedelino
 
The little Roman temple of San Fedelino can be reached by taking a short boat trip on Lago di Mezzola.  The temple dates back to before 1000 A.D.

The legend says that Fedele, a Roman soldier, was obliged to deny his faith and for his refusal, he was beheaded in 298.

Relics were discovered in 964 (allegedly prompted by a premonition) and the present building was erected in order to preserve them.

It consists of a squared nave and a semicircular apse. Inside you will find frescos, unfortunately many were destroyed over time, but the few that are still in existance are in the apse, where the central figure of Christ is surrounded by angels and other characters.

The temple is accessed from two easy excursions - one starts from Casenda di Samolaco and the other from Sorico. It is possible to reach the temple by boat from the lake.

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Temple of San Fedelino

Apparently this is one of the most precious sites of Romanesque art in the Lombardy region.  It has never been a crowed destination but devotion to the stain has always been high.
 
The Temple of San Fedelino has remained untouched, that's the reason why it appears in perfect condition.  The path or mule track to it is well marked. 
 
A boat/ferry service runs from Restaurant La Barcaccia.  This is a prominent site on the road side in Verceia - don't worry, you won't miss it!

The Codera Valley
 
The Codera Valley nestles in the mountains which rise behind the village.  For centuries it was a summer refuge of the locals to escape the hot summers, and at the same time a home to many familes who chose to live there and flourish.
 
The Rome Trail runs through the Codera Valley and was opened in the 1920's.  Even today it is still one of the most fasinating routes in the Alps, crossing an uncontaminated valley where human intervention has respected its natural feaures.
 
At the beginning of the walk, which starts in the village, you will walk uphill in tiers, flanked by vegetation and chestnut trees.  At an altitude of 600 metres the trees thin out and some stone quarries become visible, then the valley opens out onto a vista of impressive sheer rock faces before seeing the little village of Codera.
 
There are no roads to the village, so the only way to reach it is on foot and is a popular walk with hikers.  Its a good couple of hours walk and the views are spectactular.  You will be rewarded at the end by reaching this beautiful untouched fairy tale village of stone houses.  
 
Supplies can only reach the village by foot or helicopter.  Codera is well worth visiting if you have the energy and stamina and, when you get there, the trattorias serve local dishes which must be tried! There is rooms for hikers who want to spend a night in the valley.
 
On a hot day take advantage of a well earned rest by the stream. hikes.  A picturesque spot just waiting to be photographed!

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Codera Valley

Chiavenna

Chiavenna is situated around 25km north of the Lago di Como (Lake Como) on the southern bank of the Mera. This favourable location is close to the Splügenpass and via Val Bregaglia (Bergell) to the Malojapass and Septimerpass bestowed economic development on the town as early as Roman times.

The town is renowned for its historic centre with restaurants and shops. Chiavenna is a member of Cittaslow, a movement founded in 1999 to decelerate the pace of life’s and promote a higher quality of life in towns.

Traces of Chiavenna’s aristocratic past are still visible. Strolls through Chiavenna lead to piazzas, along the promenade at Pratogiano, the Via Dolzino with its shops, grottos and ice cream parlours, Paradiso Hill, the botanical gardens, the Palazzo Salis, the cloister of San Lorenzo with its 12th century font, the Museo del Tesoro and railway station.

You will also find a 'Treasure museum' (Museo del Tesoro) in the church of San Lorenzo which holds a bible cover called the 'pace' - "one of the worlds great masterpieces of medieval goldsmithry" - worth a look. The church itself is also interesting and has some lovely cloisters.  There is also several old palaces, and an industrial museum in a flour mill by the river. 

Chiavenna's sports centre offers a range of facilities including an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and football pitches.

There is a a multipurpose arena that during the winter allows the practice of athletic and recreational ice skating and ice hockey, they also hold competitions, events and Saturday evening disco on ice and this particular facility is open from October to March.

Stop off at Tourist Information Office which can be found on the main road that runs through the town.  All the Tourist Information offices are very good, but the one in Chiavenna is probably one of the best.  They can provide a wide range of material to help you make the most of your stay.

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Balbiani Palace (Chiavenna)

There a number of palaces that you will be able to admire while walking around Chiavenna’s historic center or the town of Prosto di Piuro including :

Vertemate Franchi Palace one of the most prestigious Renaissance residential palaces in Lombardy where the memory of the ancient town of Piuro, submerged by a landslide in 1618, has survived.

Balbiani Palace known as the Castle, it appears as a compact, stone bloc surrounded by two cylindrical towers.

Pestalozzi Palace 15th century palace, where you can admire a beautiful stüa (stove).

Pretorio Palace Painted with frescoes on both the outside and inside.

Salis Palace Stunning 18th-century villa surrounded by a wonderful English-style garden.

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Aqua Fraggia Falls in Puiro

Just past the town of Chiavenna this magnificent water fall can be located.  Locals can be found enjoying picnics, BBQ's and playing a variety of outdoor games - just simply having lots of family fun!
 
It is possible to go on excursions to the mountain hamlets of Cranna, Savogno and Dasile.  The itinerary will skirt around the falls providing the most amazing panaramic views.  Also you can find mountain bike courses, go climbing and fishing. 
 
The falls offers a fantastic day out for everyone, whatever you like doing.  The photo opportunities here are endless and its possible to get right up close to the falls which can be a welcome relief in the summer months when the climate is exceptionally hot.

Other Places Nearby Worth Visiting
 
There is so much to see when you visit the Valchiavenna valley, and all in a close proximity to Novate Mezzola. 
 
Perhaps visit Dongo where the facist leader Benito Mussolini was captured on the 27th April 1945 before his executed.
 
Or maybe Varenna, which is an ancient fishing village with close to 1,000 residents spread along a steep hillside overlooking Lake Como. The first evidence of Varenna existence dates back to 493.
 
Gravedona, Colico and Lecco are well worth the visit, each offering amazing views of Lake Como, some superb photo opportunites and lots to explore. 
 
Within easy reach you can also venture to some of the largest and most important nature reserves in the Alps :
 
1. Nature Reserve of Marmite del Giganti which contains ancient rock carvings and glacial rock formations and is incredible.  The Park can be covered following old mule tracks and paths which lead to the ancient ollare stone quarries. The entire area presents sceneryof particular beauty and fascinating geontorphologieal examples.
 
A characteristic peculiarity of the zone is the presence of landslides formed out of huge blocks of greenstone containing faults and fractures. This series of landslides occurred some 15 thousand years ago with the withdrawal of the lateral support provided by the body of the glacier.
 
A complex system of winding cracks within the landslide provides a constant stream of air at a steady temperature of between 6-8 degrees. These currents or 'Sorei' have been exploited in the building of 'Crotti' cellars with a simple room overhead containing a chimney (you will see lots of Crotti in this region and they are certainly worth a visit - offering local produce at extremely reasonable prices.  
 
They serve typical hearty mountain food like Pizzocheri made with wholewheat pasta and local cheese, or polenta with meat barbequed over an open fire. You may not get a choice of food, or if you do it will be limited. At most of the Crotti you will get your own chair, but at some of them you sit on benches. They all ooze rustic charm and often have big roaring fires.

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2. Stelvio National Park is the largest not only among the historical Italian parks, but also in the whole Alpine chain. It stretches in the heart of the Central Alps and includes typical valleys shaped by the action of ice and water flowing down from the imposing massif of the Ortles-Cevedale group.
 
Majestic ridges, luxuriant forests, high mountain green grasslands crossed by foaming streams springing from perennial glaciers form the landscape of the Park. Many rare animal and plant species live in wide ecosystems present in territory thanks to its remarkable differences in height and to its morphological variety.
 
The landscape is scattered with villages and "masi" at the bottom of the valleys and on the mountain slopes: this is charming evidence of rural and religious architecture which complete the setting in harmony with the surrounding environment.
 
This area is the reign of the eagle (which is the symbol of the park), of the marmot and of chamois, deer, roe deer and ibex.  To plunge completely in the nature you can choose among several itineraries, all marked, from the easiest for children and elderly people to the more binding for expert mountaineers.
 
Guided tours, with the Park Guides, are possible all the year long.  Even in the winter season when of course snow shoes are required. 

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3. Orobie Valtelllinesi Park where rare plants and animals can be found, in places that were once important for communication routes and iron-mining.
 
Some of the side valleys are wild and impervious such as Val Caronella and Val Malgina, others are wide and open, like the Bitto valleys.
 
There are still some glaciers and many Alpine lakes of intense colours, which make the higher reaches of the mountains particularly interesting. The highest peaks (Coca, Scais and Redorta) are more than 3,000 metres (9,000 ft) high and are a paradise for climbers and mountain skiers.

The Valtellina Orobie Mountains Park covers part of the northern slopes of the Orobie Alps, from 900 metres up to the mountain tops, over an area of 44,000 hectares. Unspoilt by mass tourism, these mountains safeguard old traditions and the secrets of an intact natural world.

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4. Swiss National Park is the largest protected area in Switzerland and the country's only National Park. It is mountainous and lies at an altitude varying between 1400 and 3200 above sea level.
 
Here nature is left to develop freely. Humans remain in the background and are merely witnesses of the evolution that contributes so greatly to the incomparable landscapes of the Park.
 
Geologically, the National Park is situated in the Engadine Dolomites.  Most of the rocks in the Park – sandstone, lime and verrucano – are sedimentary. Crystalline rocks such as gneiss or amphibolite are only found in the Macun area.
 
All in all 30 species of mammal are found within the Park’s territory, and 100 bird species, of which 60 breed in the Park.  Most of the 5,000 invertebrates are very small "creepy-crawlies".
 
Many of the walks in the park cover considerable differences in altitude and go above the treeline. Weather in the mountains can change very suddenly. Warm clothing and sufficient provisions should always be carried. Appropriate equipment and preparation go a long way to ensuring a successful outing.

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Majola, Switzerland - From here you will see some amazing views

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Cyclists overlooking Lago di Mezzola

Local Activities
Walking
The apartment makes walking easy as there is access to the hills and mountains that surround it.  The walking takes you along, in some cases, old mule tracks passing historical sites and villages en-route.
We are right at the entrance of Valtellina and Valchiavenna, minutes from "Pian di Spagna", the spacious level that unites the Lake of Mezzola with the Lake of Como.  And very close to the apartment is the opportunity to see roman architecture for yourself in the Temple of San Fedelino, built between 900 and 1000.  
All around the area are 'random' walks literally signposted, at times, from the side of main roads.  You'll generally find ample parking nearby these local walks and quite often bars and trattorias too so you can sit and plan your route, or simply rest before heading back.
Golf

The famous, and second oldest Golf Club of Italy is located in Menaggio and represents British tradition at its best. 

Overlooking Lake Como, it is a course combining old-world values with a heritage of golfing culture. The elevated position of the course provides magnificent views. Prices : Mid-week daily Green Fee 55 euros, weekends and bank holidays green fee 70 euros x 10 green fees (Mon - Fri) 450 euros x 10 green fees (weekend's and bank holidays) 550 euros, daily buggy hire 36 euros, daily club hire 15 euros.

(www.menaggio.it)

Horse Riding

Less than 10 minutes away is Gruppo Equestre (www.gruppoequestre.it)

Information on all other activities available locally can be found in the apartment and the local tourist information offices can provide ample suggestions too.
Canoe, Catamaran, Windsurfing and Bike Hire + Courses
Within 10 minutes of the apartment there is an excellent centre that can provide a variety of services and is well respected in the area.
Kitesurfing and other watersports can be experienced in Colico
Sailing Courses
If you have always fancied learning to sail then why not take a course while on holiday in nearby Dongo, which is less than 15 minutes away.
Boat Hire On Lake Como
Fly over Lake Como in a Seaplane
For something a little different try Wakeboarding, Wakesurfing, Aqua Jump and Acqua Tube at Lezzeno which is about 50 miles from the apartment.
Climbing and Mountaineering
Cycling
As we are situated in the heart of the Alps, the region of Valchiavenna offers a unique natural environment that can be discovered by cycling through beautiful meadows and woods. A valley characterised by bright spaces, alpine lakes, grazing woods.

If you love cycling then you have a lot of routes to choose from, including in our village and around Lago di Mezzola. The beautiful Acqua Fraggia Waterfalls, as mentioned earlier as a top destination during your holiday, can be reached from Chiavenna through a new cycle lane.  The waterfalls, with their loud roar, sprinklings of water and natural surroundings are the Italian heart of the Bregaglia Valley. A cycle lane fit for everybody of any ability (including children), an excellent union between sport and nature, starting from the historic centre of Chiavenna.
From Chiavenna there is a trail that passes through the “Marmitte dei Giganti” Nature Reserve.  The route takes you through poplars, plane and ash trees, while the “crotti” (characteristic restaurants) follow one another. In this area there is the opportunity to visit the old workshop of the “pietra ollare” (a typical stone) and the mill, where the tasty biscuits called “Biscotin de Prost” have been baked for centuries.
At Prosto di Piuro, there is the Vertemate Franchi Palace, again a place worth visiting which was mentioned earlier.  To the south of Chiavenna lies the our Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve that can be reached from the cycle lane of Prata Camportaccio. It connects the tableland of the valley taking you back home to Lake Mezzola. The cycle lane goes beyond the Schiusone river and the country meadows to the waters of the Mera river: here if you follow the riverside to Novate Mezzola you will reach the village to return to the apartment.  The Tourist Information offices can provide up to date details on bike hire or book in advance (we suggest www.breva.ch/_pdf/website-en.pdf).
Cycling's World Cup features Europe's top one day races - the classics of world cycling.  The first major meeting of the cycling year often features the best field of any race outside the Tour de France and the World Championships. It starts in Milan in March and then ends in Lake Como in October
The Giro di Lombardia (English : Tour of Lombardy), as it is known is the last 'Monument' of the European calendar.  This famous race is known as Tour of Lombardy (Giro di Lombardia).  The Italians affectionately call it 'The Race of the Falling Leaves' (La Classica delle Foglie Morte).  The race normally takes place in October. 

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