There are plenty of well-known towns and villages throughout Europe which are frequented by hordes of tourists and of course are still a must-see, but sometimes smaller places have their own joys to offer which make the effort to visit worthwhile.
Sitting high above beautiful Como in northern Italy lies the little town of Brunate, Although accessible by car via a long, windy road, the most popular way to visit is via the funicular which is a 10 minute walk from Piazza Cavour along Lake Como’s tree-lined waterfront. The service runs from early morning until late evening every 15-30 minutes depending on the time of day and presently costs EUR5.50 for the return journey. The short 7 minute ride up offers lovely views of the lake and town but don’t worry about trying to find that special photo until you get to the top.
Once you’ve arrived in Brunate, there are a small number of little shops and market stalls, plus restaurants with views to die for. If you only come up here for lunch, vino and a photo opportunity, it’s well worth it.
However, signposts gently entice you to go just that little bit further. The village of San Maurizio and the ultimate lookout at Volta’s Lighthouse (Faro Voltiano) are only about a 35 – 45 minute walk but keep in mind that it’s very steep in parts and the path is sometimes a little rocky. My recommendation is to take it easy, enjoy the views on the way and take some water, especially if it’s a hot day.
Once you’ve reached San Maurizio, you can take a look inside the little church or stop off for a drink or bite to eat before ascending the last small hill and steps to the lighthouse. Keep going – you’ve got this far so I promise those final stairs will be worth it. At the bottom of the stairs is Parco Marenghi – a tranquil garden to sit and reflect on how proud you are of your perseverance, plus there are toilets if needed. If you’re still feeling energetic, you can climb the 143 stairs inside the lighthouse for the best view of all and pay EUR2.00 at the entrance for the privilege. If you’ve had enough, no need to worry as the views from outside the lighthouse are still spectacular and there are seats to sit quietly and just enjoy the panoramic outlook of the lake and surrounds.
Of course, going down isn’t anywhere as taxing as coming up and you can reward yourselves with a vino/beer and a delicious plate of pasta before catching the funicular back to Como.
Although somewhat tired after the steep walk, we really enjoyed visiting Brunate and San Maurizio. Quiet and simple sometimes make for the best afternoons. Don’t you agree??