This trek of the plains of Tivano along the Dorsale begins in the walled city center of Como, Northern Italy. To arrive at the trailhead, we took the funicular up the mountain for just a 3 euro fare. The funicular runs just about every 15 minutes with a break for the lunch hour. Once at the top, you have arrived in the town of Brunate, where the trail travels up along carriage roads and mule tracks for another 300 or so meters in altitude. The trails are steep and the magnificent views of the area begin to peek from behind the foliage. Some of the residences in this area are grandiose and historic – the stretch of road on the path is bumpy and unforgiving. After a few meters in altitude change, the path evens out and begins to cross a section of pine forest on wide gravel paths.
The trail is well marked, but we found the signs to be a little confusing. Sometimes they are labeled as “Dorsale”, but other times they are only labeled with the name of the nearest towns- having to resort to a guide or map to determine distances in between destination. One of the great things about this trail is that it relieves you with options; you choose how difficult or easy to make your journey. Actually, it’s never quite easy, but it does let you choose in taking the “crest” variants or continue on the regular Dorsale paths. In my opinion, the Dorsale trail’s altitude is impressive enough, but we still opted for the crest variant a few of the times. We were hiking in hazy conditions due to the summer heat wave in the area, so the higher you would climb, the more difficult the visibility became – at times loosing complete sight of Lake Como.
The walk goes through ancient chestnut forests, over summits and mountain meadows, traverses the mountain sides through slopes of beech forests – weaving in and out of some scree paths.There is a particular section with an amazingly picturesque view of the balds along the ridge pass of one of the mountains. Surprisingly, not too many areas are exposed and the temperatures are much cooler at the top than expected at the height of summer. The trail turned into an escarpment that needed to be carefully descended and made its way down into the town of Belaggio. The trail can be done in either direction and can be broken into different days, as there are many other trails along the route to descend on both side of the mountains with refuge options in the surrounding towns. The area is also interesting from a geological point of view as there are many crags.