Lake Como is a popular Italian destination, especially with foreign tourists, and rightly so: picturesque little lakeside towns, luxurious villas, magnificent gardens, all within the backdrop of mountains. But like all popular places, Lake Como can become overcrowded with tourists; however, there are always ways for curious travelers to enjoy little-known itineraries and spots even in the most famous destinations.
A recently inaugurated itinerary that lets you experience Lake Como in an original way is the Lake Como Poetry Way, a 16-km walking route starting in Roggiana, continuing across the towns of Cernobbio and Como and ending in Brunate, following in the footsteps of 16 writers and historical figures who have either lived or depicted Lake Como in their works.
The walk is marked by ‘little free libraries’, for the free exchange of books in any language.
The walk is divided into 16 legs, corresponding to the most interesting spots in each town visited, matching cultural figures whose name is associated with Lake Como - for example, the poet Alda Merini, Roman author Plinius the Elder, the physicist Alessandro Volta, pioneer of electricity, the poet and writer Ugo Foscolo; each representing a different era, from the founding of Roman Como to the 20th century. Along the way there are plaques with quotes from these figures, in Italian and English.
The walk is fairly easy and can be divided into different stages. Those wishing to walk it all at once can complete it in about six hours. The itinerary has a 500-meter elevation gain, which can be reduced by taking the ancient funicular from Como up to Brunate (€ 3.10 one-way ticket), an elegant town dotted with Art Nouveau villas which overlooks Como and the lake; the walk ends at Faro Voltiano in Brunate, with a beautiful view.
The itinerary starts at Valico di Roggiana, a border area between Italy and Switzerland which can be reached from Como using public transportation. Wikivoyage has a detailed page dedicated to the Lake Como Poetry Way with description of each stage and information on how to organize the walk. More information is available here.