Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stresa Walks: Montorfano and Mergozzo

Luca and I have finally done a walk that we've been wanting to do for a long time: Montorfano and Mergozzo. Although the start and finish points are not in Stresa you can get to and fro using the train. The following timings are for a morning walk. It is not too strenuous and only takes a couple of hours.

Basic Walk Information
  • Height difference: 138m
  • Time approx: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: T
We started out from Stresa on the train to Verbania-Pallanza station. From there the walk begins.

On the woodland path
Turn left out of the Verbania-Pallanza train station building and walk towards the main road and turn right and right again into Via Montorfano (signposted Montorfano with a white signpost). After 150m you will be standing below the granite quarry. The granite from Montorfano is white and to the right you will see where they store the huge blocks of granite before it gets shipped to its final destination. Giuseppe Lusetti, a local picasass or stone mason, entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 for sculpting the longest chain out of one block of granite. It is a real chain with 239 individual links. It is 30m long, weighs 400kg and is on display at the stone mason's workshop in Via Roma in the centre of Mergozzo.

Follow the road that winds up through the woods full of oak trees to the hamlet of Montorfano. En route you will pass the tiny Montorfano cemetery on your left. In Italy cemeteries are more often than not on the edge of towns and villages rather that by the church itself.

Keep following the winding road up to the pretty hamlet of Montorfano. As you come into the hamlet you will see the church across a small field to your left. On your right is another building which also used to be a church and behind which lies an interesting story.

S. Giovanni Church / The Old Protestant Church
At the end of the 19th century the Catholic priest would no longer make the climb up to Montorfano to celebrate mass, so the inhabitants found themselves a protestant pastor from Intra. For some time the Protestant pastor was celebrating mass in a Catholic church! When the Catholic Church found out they decided that this arrangement could not continue and so the villagers decided to build a Protestant church. Over the years the Protestant church has closed, however all villagers whether they are Catholic or Protestant are buried in the tiny Catholic cemetery that you passed on the way up.

Montorfano Village
If you are lucky enough the key-holder of the S. Giovanni Church will see you arrive and come along to open the door. Inside you will find the recently excavated font which dates back to the 5th or 6th century. The font is so large and set in the floor because most of the baptisms at that time were adults and it was a full immersion baptism.

You can carry on up through the village past the B&B and up to see the animals at who you can contact in advance to have a donkey ride!

Retrace your steps back through the village and exit the way you came in. A short back down the road and a path opens up into the woods. This path takes you all the way through the woods down to the little town of Mergozzo. Along the route, between the trees, you get stunning snapshots of Lake Mergozzo.

Mergozzo and snapshot of the lake from the woodland path
Once we arrived in Mergozzo we had plenty of time for lunch before we had to catch the train. We went to Vecchio Olmo in the main square where Luca enjoyed a pizza and I had a plate of cold cuts.

Then it is a 10 minute walk up to Mergozzo train station and back to Stresa.

Practical Information
The following trains and prices are correct at the time of writing (updated June 2014):

09.16 depart Stresa / 09.25 arrive Verbania-Pallanza
09.38 depart Stresa / 09.44 arrive Verbania-Pallanza
10.38 depart Stresa / 10.44 arrive Verbania-Pallanza

14.20 depart Mergozzo / 14.34 arrive Stresa
16.20 depart Mergozzo / 16.34 arrive Stresa

The ticket Stresa to Verbania-Pallanza is €1.90
The ticket Mergozzo to Stresa is €2.10

Let us know if you try this walk and especially if you go pony riding!
Sarah, Viaggi Tomassucci


  1. A lovely walk and so unexpected. Amazed that the trains still run and at the same times AND FARES!!! Delighted to chat with a German couple who cannot visit Pallanza without doing the walk. Enchanted with the tranquil hamlet of Montorfano and the quiet elegance of Mergozzo. Thanks ever so.

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for your kind comment. I'm so pleased you enjoyed doing the walk and visiting Montorfano and Mergozzo. Sarah, Viaggi Tomassucci

  2. Thank you for posting this amazing walk.The initial climb up from the granite quarry was very strenuous but the payoff of shaded pathways through the hamlet, no crowds, and lakeside vistas was well worth that climb. Wonderful half day trip from Stresa.