Courtesy of Creative Commons

Exploring the “other” lake Como

Off the beaten path, the Scenic Route 65 offers majestic views of lake Como and buckets of driving fun

Rising and dropping in altitude, the Scenic Route 65 connects Varenna with Bellano and while the sequence of elevated curves paints the landscape, a body of intense blue waters caress the Lario coastline offering panoramas of poignant beauty. But the real bonus of this driving experience, is the absence of traffic and very different vibes from the glamour surrounding the Clooney and Branson villas. All you have to do is reach Varenna and while the place is predominantly tourism oriented, there is a quieter road departing from the municipality where to savor the pleasures of driving during the warmer months.

Courtesy of Romaine

This stretch of road is a loop that could almost be defined as a circuit reaching 1. 000 meters above and Valsassina. Spring and summer are the best times of the year to enjoy the Scenic Route 65 but since average temperatures are higher and the road is always open, every season is good enough for the ride. The name Scenic Route 65 identifies the inland road from Varenna to Bellano brimming with turns and hairpin bends. Time from start to finish is around three-quarters of an hour and from the cockpit, passengers and drivers will be immersed in picture perfect scenery encompassing woods, lake and mountains.

Courtesy of Romaine

To reach the roads vantage points, take the junction to Perledo before Varenna. The first part of the itinerary needs to be completed at slow pace as it crosses several small hamlets but after the sequence of Lecco villages, fun rises exponentially with altitude. The ascent reaches Esino Lario and a few kilometers after Perledo, a place called Belvedere (Italian for beautiful view) welcomes traveler with a small natural terrace where to admire Lario, Menaggio and lake Como shoreline. Immediately below the panoramic sport is the castle of Vezio and a slight turn, brings views of atmospheric Bellagio adorned by water and alpine peaks.

As we drive towards Esino Lario, the scenery thickens and curves are often shaded by trees. Despite the winding up hill climb, the best has yet to come because everything comes alive after the small mountain village prior to Agueglio Pass. While retaining many twists and turns, the road is now wider, more enticing and always accompanied by serene natural landscapes of lake Como and Valsassina on the opposite side. Reaching the Agueglio Pass standing at 1.140 meters in altitude, is a highlight of the roadtrip and the same can be said of the rythmical descent all the way towards Bellano. From a geological point of view, Orrido di Bellano is a not to be missed because of a waterfall flowing in a 15 million years old gorge formed 15 million years ago. But this, is definitely another story.

Cesare Cappa

I wasn't always amidst engines but in the end, I succeeded in making the topic part of my professional career. After graduating as a mechanical engineer, I started contributing for Auto Tecnica, and subsequently fed my portfolio of collaborations with Sole 24 Ore, Messaggero and Corriere della Sera. I’m responsible for car testing at monthly magazine Auto and I enjoy combining the activity of journalist and tester at the Balocco driving center.