If you are staying in or near the Griante region of Lake Como, Italy then you can probably see Chiesa San Martino sitting high up above, nestled in the mountain side.
This strange little church looks both perfectly in and out of place so high above Lake Como.
It is about an hour walk up to the small cream coloured church from the bottom of the mountain, and it was worth every minute. There are no roads for cars to get to Chiesa San Martino. The only way to get there is by foot.
There were some friendly donkeys along the way, and of course I couldn’t resist giving one of them a good scratch.
Walking along this path, that leads farther and farther away from the lake below, you can see the enormous amount of labor that must have gone into creating it.
Rounded lake stones are used to create the winding trail that takes you up and through the bends of the mountain side. Looking at the stones it is clear that each one was placed just so to create the pathway that leads to Chiesa San Martino.
Some of them are covered in grasses and moss, and others remain bare. Many feet have walked over these stones, and I’m lucky a pair of them were mine.
Butterflies, lizards, and wildflowers fill every nook and cranny. Different mosses and vines decorate the rocks. It’s really exciting because the path just keeps winding, and you don’t know what to expect after each turn.
If you have children and are spending time in Lake Como, this would be a wonderful way to pass the afternoon. This would be a wonderland to explore for any child, and definitely brought out my sense of wonder.
The realization that the congregation would have had to take this long mountain trail in order to get to mass. The metaphors you can draw from this are probably endless.
As the trail leads you closer to the church you can see markers with icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, marking your progress to the final destination.
About half way up to San Martino, there is a small chapel that stands together with the Italian flag. It is a great place to explore and take a rest.
The different views of Lake Como that you have on this hike are absolutely stunning. As you hike higher you get a unique perspective of the lake and mountains, that you cannot get from the water.
The scale of everything becomes very clear up here. You see these luxurious villas, that from the ground often seem palatial, become smaller and less important.
Here you can fully appreciate the beautiful and unique landscape that Lake Como has to offer.
When you arrive at San Martino, you can fully appreciate the effort it surely took to build. You can literally look back on the trail you just walked and imagine how difficult transporting materials would have been. The men and horses had no small task transporting the materials to build it, but looking at the view I understand why they would.
Weather you are religious or not, this is the perfect place to sit and reflect. You can sense your smallness in relation Lake Como and its surrounding mountains.
The air here is fresh and rejuvenating. It is clear this is a special haven unique to Lake Como. I doubt there are many other places in the world quite like this.
This is a truly magnificent view, and it is made all the more meaningful with the effort it took to get there. This view isn’t something you just stumble upon. You have to work for it, and that makes it feel very special.
Not everyone who comes here will take the time to hike up to Chiesa San Martino, but I’m glad I did. I got to see another side to Lake Como, because I’m Just Not That Way.