Long stage with a great difference in height: overall difficult (several sections of the path are clearly not very used), but also varied and fun.
The church of Madonna di Mezza Cresta di Livo is very beautiful and it is surrounded by the wild environment of Valle di Darengo. It is divided by the profile of sharp ridges and some waterfalls.
The stage is a variation of the Sentiero Italia (which turns south from Dangri, towards Peglio, staying at low altitude). It was preferred for the beauty of Val Darengo: those who don't want to struggle can proceed on the original track.
The stage is particularly long and should not be underestimated. However, it is possible to shorten it by staying overnight at Rifugio Pianezza, before the climb to the Darengo lake.
In the descent from Pighè to Barro, the vegetation is often very invasive and it is easy to get lost: you have to be careful to find the trail signs and keep an eye on the GPS. In the same descent, the track is sometimes run-down and slightly exposed.
We take the steep path that cuts the hairpin bends of the asphalted road and goes up to Montalto (about 800 m height difference). After the long initial stretch, from Montalto we take a long cross path (in good condition), that passes by several alpine pastures (often still in excellent condition, thanks to the vacationers who arrive there in the summer). The view is pleasant and enhanced by Lake Como and Monte Legnone ( 2,609 m), the "Matterhorn" of the lake. From the locality of Pighè, the path changes its appearance (the track often becomes invisible, covered with tall grass and thorns) and goes steeply down to Barro, at the bottom of the Valle di Livo (approximately 450 m drop).
After a short flat stretch up to Dangri (where we admire a beautiful bridge, with a stone vault), we leave for the second, long climb of the day (overall, about 1,100 m height difference). While on a paved path, we pass the small chapel of the Madonna di Livo and arrive in Baggio, the last inhabited center. We continue on a long cross path: after passing the Moia del Rago the climb resumes towards Borgo, from there we enter Val Darengo, continuing to gain altitude. We ignore the indications to the nearby Rifugio Pianezza (unless you want to break the stage there) and we come to the wide meadow valley of Alpe Darengo, dominated by a rock wall.
We face the last stretch (about 400 m height difference) on a steep path and we reach lake Darengo, enclosed in a beautiful cirque glacier: above us stands out the Pizzo Campanile.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna di Mezza Cresta di Livo was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. It is one of the most important and significant expressions of popular faith in the Upper Lario, a reference point for many pilgrims.
Inside the sanctuary, there is also an 18th-century pipe organ of fine workmanship.
Right next to the Capanna Como is Lake Darengo, perfect for escaping the summer heat.
The alpine lake, with clear waters, is located in a beautiful rocky amphitheater, at the foot of granite massifs (Pizzo Campanile and Pizzo San Pio) and jagged ridges that crown it.
Rifugio Pianezza, in Val Darengo. 12 beds, blankets, kitchen and stove. Not guarded, you need to ask for the keys. Tel. +39 0344 89761
Rifugio Capanna Como, near Lake Darengo. New and excellently maintained, it has 22 beds, blankets, water, toilet, stove and gas. You need to ask the keys to Mr. Guglielmo Molinari. Tel. +39 0344 88960
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus from the city of Como.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.