If you are looking for something more energetic to do, and a chance to take in the natural beauty of Lake Como, I can highly recommend you seeking out the old mule track on the eastern shore of Lake Como, which dates back to Roman times. The track is approximately 45 kms in length connecting Abbadia Lariana (north of Lecco) with Colico in the north. The track is marked with orange signs, though a watchful eye is most important to avoid taking the wrong turn.
The track passes by old rustic stone villages, churches, woodlands, olive groves, hamlets, castles, streams to cross, with endless number of stunning views over the lake below. It is very important to be prepared for the hike, wear appropriate clothing, footwear, and take plenty of water and snacks, food and drink is only available for purchase in the lakeside villages (Varenna, Bellano, Dervio, etc)
During our week long stay on Lake Como, based in Varenna, we completed some amazing hikes. Varenna was a wonderful place to stay this its great public transport connections: bus, ferry and train. We used a hiking guidebook by Gillian Price, 'Walking the Italian Lakes' for our three afternoon hikes. We completed two of the hikes listed in the guidebook and one in reverse direction, the hikes are challenging and a reasonable level of fitness is required.
1).Varenna to Bellano: 6.2 kms (the reverse direction of this hike we felt is easier)
The ascent from Varenna to the village above, Vezio, is tough on the calves, lots of steps, here there is an old castle which you can choose to visit. Continuing on along the path for the next 2.5 hours, we pass through small villages, and old funicular, before arriving in Bellano. Bellano is a reasonably serviced town: large supermarkets, railway station, restaurants, etc. Bellano is only 4 minutes away from Varenna by train.
2).Bellano to Dervio: 6.2 kms
Starting from the Bellano railway station there is a short walk through the town, past an old cotton mill, a church before a stairway leading up the hill which passes by a gorge, Bellano di orrido. It is a tough climb to get above Bellano and on our way along the track. This walk is more challenging than walk 1, there is an steep variant extension to the hike which takes in the hamlet of Pendaglio, accessible only by foot. Once again great views to be had over Lake Como. After 3 hours of walking we arrive in Dervio, and head down to the lake for a quick look around and a rest by the lake before heading back to the train station. In Dervio there are several restaurants, gelateria to choose from.
Hopefully in the future we may return to take other hikes along this ancient track.
Useful website: http://www.trenord.it/it/home.aspx
Tip: Where possible, pre-purchase train tickets: in Varenna, seek out Barlotti near the main piazza. In Bellano, tickets can be purchased in the bar below the station, and don't forget to validate your ticket before boarding the train.