Mandello del Lario, in the province of Lecco is a beautiful lakeside town located on the eastern branch of Lake Como. It lies at the foot of the majestic Grigne Mountain range and is approximately 11km drive from Lecco.
The history of Mandello del Lario is turbulent. During the middle ages, the village of Mandello del Lario was a fortress, surrounded by high walls with a tower and moat in order to defend itself against attack. Inside the fortress was the church, the tower and houses. Parts of the fortress wall remain to this day. After forming an alliance with Como during the decennial war, Mandello del Lario suffered attacks by the Milan Army in 1160. Veneziani and Visconti battled for ownership of this town which carried on for some time until during the 1500’s when the village became part of the Sfondrati ownership that guaranteed a period of peace. By the middle of the 1800’s, spinning mills sprung up in Mandello del Lario; to date, there are several industries; paper, electric and electro-mechanical.
Mandello del Lario is more famously known as being home to Moto Guzzi (since 1921). The Italian motorcycle manufacturer (now a subsidiary of Piaggio & Co. SpA) now has a museum which you can visit and see the history of Moto Guzzi narrated through the various motorcycle models, prototypes and motor engines which have made Moto Guzzi a point of excellence in its field inside and outside the country. Since 2001 Mandello del Lario has hosted Giornata Mondiale Guzzi or Worldwide Guzzi Days bringing motorcycle enthusiasts from near and far.
There are numerous things to see and do in and around Mandello del Lario. In the town you will find the San Giorgio Church, a small single hall church built in the 11th century by a Templar Monk on his way back from the Holy Land (so it is said). Restoration work on the church started in the 14th century. The church features a visible truss ceiling with some beautiful frescoes in the nave dating back to the 15th century. Another church to visit which is located closer to the lakeside, is the church of Saint Laurence, which was rebuilt in the 1600’s. The church still has the original bell tower which was erected in the 12th century. Inside you can see some magnificent paintings and there is an amazing pipe organ.
If you feel like some exercise, then there are plenty of walks and hikes to choose from that vary in time from one hour to more than five hours depending on how fit you are. An easy walk for everyone is ‘Belvedere on the Lake’ which starts from Somana and finishes in Olcio by following the quiet roads. This takes approximately one hour with a height difference of 100 metres. However if you are fit and have lots of stamina (more suited for expert walkers and hikers) you can try the Medieval route to Valsassina. The starting point of this hike is from Somana which leads you to Saint Mary’s Church, then to Era’s Alps and to Gardata. This hike follows along on a mule-track with stairs. It is possible to climb this slope in every season. The views are spectacular and you will see the Val Meria, Grignes mountains and Rosalba lodge. This hike will take approximately 5 hours (return in Rongio). If it is gentle exercise that you are after then why not try out the 18-hole course at Lecco just a few kilometres away.
There are good ferry connections to the towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna. Lecco is a short drive away and Como around 50 minutes away. An ideal location with everything close by leaving you spoilt for choice.