You Should Experience Monte Generoso At Least Once In Your Lifetime, And Here's Why
We could spend hours in describing how magical is Valle Intelvi, the mountain area on the boundary with Switzerland at a few minutes driving from Argegno, western shore of Lake Como.
But there’s one main thing that makes this valley worth a visit: it enables you to enjoy Lake Lugano and Lake Como at the same time. Yes, you got it right: there are some spots along this delightful valley that are like huge balconies overlooking both lakes.
One of these is Monte Generoso.
Reaching the top of a mountain is always a spiritual experience, an occasion to listen to our self and to enjoy silence. From a top, you really feel part of the reality that we are here to live on earth.
We like to say that Monte Generoso is a mine of emotions. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a sunset or an aurora from the top of this mountain, you’ll see how the sun transforms the sky and the earth into a boundless expanse of colors.
Read ahead to discover more about this unique stone cathedral!
Monte Generoso identikit
Some key figures for a quick ID card of this glorious mountain:
It’s part of the Prealpi Luganesi
It’s also known as Monte Calvagione (mont Generos, Casgnon o Calvagion); its top is called Punta Cedilla
Lenght of hiking routes: 51 km
Altitude: 1.704 m
Difference in altitude: 430 m
Fun fact #1: along its path called “Sentiero Botanico” you’ll find the biggest forest of laburnum of Europe. This tree generally grows alone, so it’s pretty much a miracle to see so many exemplars all together! Don’t miss the blooming of this tree between May and June!
Fun fact #2: on September 7 1893, Monte Generoso hosted Queen Margherita of Savoia and Prince and future king Vittorio Emanuele III.
The mountain is very rich in ravines: 92 caves for a total length of 13 kilometers.
Its appearance when viewed from its north-western slope is imposing, with precipitous cliff spurs in its upper part. Up to a certain height you’ll see beautiful woodlands, especially beech and oak. On the opposite side, the mountain offers a sweeter appearance, like a large meadow that rises from the Muggio Valley to the summit.
Monte Generoso is just great for hiking: the north ascent is quite a difficult hike, as the path climbs over a few steep and rocky parts where it is secured with steel ropes and pegs. The mountain is also great for other sports, such as mountain biking, parachute gliding etc.
The route to the summit of Monte Generoso summit is relatively simple and takes slightly more than 2 hours.
From Como, along the SS340 (Regina) to Argegno, almost at the end of the town take a road on the left (Val d'Intelvi) up to San Fedele; here, follow the mountain street to Orimento (near the bus station), Via Monte Generoso, and keep driving up.
Once reached Alpe Grande (you will see a wide parking area with BBQ spots and picnic tables) turn right following the sign “Baita di Orimento”. You will then reach a street with a house on your right, and a bivio: leave your car at the small parking area here.
Starting from here, there are basically two paths you can take to start hiking the mountains: the “sentiero basso” (low path: at the bivio take left and reach the Baita di Orimento and keep following the path) and the “sentiero alto” (high path: it starts exactly on the right of the bivio).
Both paths take you pretty much the same time to let you reach the summit, but consider these aspects:
the low path is the least difficult in terms of difference in altitude, but the least panoramic. Fun fact: in the lowest path there’s the possibility to visit a karst cave aka “Grotta dell’Orso”, where some findings of a bear and from Neandertal men (dating back to 50.000 years ago!) have been found. The low path near the summit is called the Path of the Planets and allows to reach the Astronomical Observatory (1600 m). Along the low path, near the Baita di Orimento, you can see some charming ruins of old stone houses (originally used as primitive refrigerators: people used to store food in the snow there).
the high path, despite the higher number of steep hills and the fact that it’s almost completely exposed to the sunlight, is definitely the best when it comes to the views you can enjoy. Here, if you wish, there’s also the possibility to take the fixed rope route (mandatory rope kit!). The high path is easier with no snow, but can be dangerous with ice, while crossing some narrow but steep channels between the rocks of Baraghetto (the summit N of Generoso).
What we suggest you is to start your hiking from the high path and then take the low one on the way back.
If you love wild animals, we’re sure you’ll particularly enjoy trekking on Monte Generoso: you’ll be able to see so many!
Camoises (in different specimens, regularly surveyed by the competent organs of the Canton Ticino) are the most popular animals you can spot on the peaks of Monte Generoso. You’ll most likely see them very early in the morning.
But that’s not all: you can spot 21 free horses, the famous Cavalli del Bisbino. They have been rescued from a very bad destiny in 2009. The whole bunch is now owned by Associazione Cavalli del Bisbino Onlus.
Remember to be gentle with them: don’t feed them, and don’t disturb them with selfies! Bear in mind that you are a guest at their home.
Peonia Officinalis, Primula Auricula, Narcissus poeticus, Dianthus, Anemone… Monte Generoso is home to over 800 plant species! The fun fact is that thanks to the intensity of high-altitude solar radiation, the flowers are larger and their colors remarkably more vivid than those in the plains.
For fans of rare plants, Monte Generoso is an exciting and inexhaustible fund, as well as for those who simply love beautiful things.
Never forget that it’s strictly forbidden to pick flowers!
In several points of both the high and the low path you could have the chance to see some Stone Balance artworks: little pillars made of stones over stones.
The Stone Balance is a mental discipline aimed at balancing stones and boulders of various shapes using only the force of gravity.
According to the lovers of this discipline, the process of finding the balance between objects allows to free the mind and the body from thoughts, to merge and concentrate with the balance points of the work that is composing: harmony and external balance are the reflection of an achieved inner balance. Well, does a more peaceful place than Monte Generoso can exist on earth for practicing this zen philosophy?
From the top you will enjoy a breathtaking 360° view. The feeling you’ll have is to be incredibly close to the sky, in a surreal setting.
You will see the Alpi Vallesane and Urane, the two Grigna, Monte San Primo, Monte Resegone (the one described by novelist Alessandro Manzoni in I Promessi Sposi), Monte Rosa, Cervino, Jungfrau, Gottardo, Sasso Gordona, Lake Lugano and, in the clearest days, even Milano.
Someone says that in the super clear days you can even detect the little Madonnina of the Duomo di Milano shining in the sun.
On the top there's a useful 360° observation deck with most of the mountains described, so you would know exactly what you’re looking at.
Like all the architectural works, you can like or not, and we are not here to discuss about it. We just love the fact that the architect called Monte Generoso “the mountain of my youth”, as he used to hike it very early in the morning with his friends to enjoy the sunrise.
Another proof that certain places are able to become a permanent part of our soul.
When to go
The best seasons to hike on Monte Generoso are spring and autumn, but even winter offers extraordinary eye-shots, especially if there is snow and thanks to the clarity of its days.
The peak can be reached every day of the year thanks also to the rack railway that goes up from Capolago, on Lake Lugano, and reaches the Stone Flower.
Where to eat
We keep saying it: the best lunch you can have on Monte Generoso is by far a homemade sandwich, to be eaten on the top of the mountain!
For a coffee or a delicious Swiss dessert you can stop by the Stone Flower self-service restaurant and sit at one of their tables close to the wide glass windows (hyper-panoramic!).
If you fancy a serious lunch (polenta, braised, local could cuts and cheese etc.), don’t miss Baita di Orimento (Via Orimento 98 - T. 031 830412): especially in the high season and on weekends, we suggest you to book your table in advance.
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