The big oak tree
"Il Rogolone" is an enormous oak tree measuring 25 m in height and 8 m in circumference that stands in a clearing in the Woods around the commune of Grandola ed Uniti. It has been declared natural monument and it is the symbol of the Val Sanagra Park. The walk leads through Woods, fields and rural villages.
- Starting point: Menaggio 200 m;
- Itinerary: Menaggio - Cardano - Gonte - Rogolone - Velzo - Codogna - Mulino Vecchia Chioderia - Piamuro - Menaggio;
- Total walking time: 4.30 hrs (from Codogna 1:30 min);
- Ascent: 279 m;
- Trail signs: some signs;
- Difficulty: fairly easy.
Route: At Menaggio, from Piazza Garibaldi, take Via Calvi. At the end of it cross the main road and turn into Via Caronti, along the left side of the Parish church St. Stefano. At the end of the street turn right and after 30 m turn left into Via Castellino da Castello. This cobble stone alley leads to the upper part of the town called Castello. The "Castello" of today gives only a faint idea of how it was in the Middle-Ages. In fact it was completely destroyed in 1523during the occupation by the Rhaetian militia. Left intact are parts of its enormous perimeter walls which you can admire at various points.
On the corner with Via Strecioum go up the long flight of steps to the left (Via Rezia) which lead to an underpass under the main road. Once at the other side of the underpass take Via Monte Grappa, which after 300 m leads on the main road 340. Cross it, then go up the steps and at the end turn right in order to pick up the cycle-footpath that follows the traces of the former railway line Menaggio - Porlezza.
The raiway line between Menaggio and Porlezza was opened in 1884 in order to attract more tourists from northern Europe to the area. Arriving by train to Lugano the tourists were then transported by steam boat to Porlezza from where the train brought them to Menaggio. After the first World War the train line was abandoned.
The first part of the track requires some attention as it is also accessible by cars until you come to a roundabout followed by a rest area equipped with a fountain and some benches. The track enters a e valley and passes a 90 m long tunnel. You reach the commune of Grandola ed Uniti (377 m) where the track ends onto the SP road of Grandola. Turn right in order to reach the centre of the beautiful village Cardano gathered around the splendid Villa Bagatti Valsecchi.
The origins of the Villa Bagatti Valsecchi go back to the 16th century; it was enlarged between the 17th and 19th century. The villa is built around two court yards on two different levels. One faces the gorge of the river Sanagra that flows 90 m below; the other court yard faces the historical centre of Cardano.
Continue along via Galbiati, and just past the church of S. Caterina you again end up on the road SP Grandola. Cross it and pick up Via Gonte that leads to the village Gonte. On the right side of the Church of S. Giovanni Battista, pik up Via alle Vigne. The cart track leads out of the village along the Val Menaggio flanked byMonte Crocione (1640 m) and Monte Galbiga on the left and Monte Grona (1736 m) on the right. After about 1 km, at a fork near the house, keep a small shrine on your right and, after 500 m, you reach another fork. Keep right. The trail ascends slightly in the middle of woods and fields. After you have crossed two small rivulets you arrive at the fork where you turn left (sign Rogolone). The walk continues through the woods and after a final steep climb you reach the clearing where the big oak tree "il Rogolone" stands. There is an information panel.
After admiring the Majestic tree, pick uop the trail up on the right side of the clearing. After a brief climb, turn right in the direction of Velzo (sign). After a walk of about 40 minutes the cart track eventually ends onto the Sp road Grandola. Cross it and pick up Via Cima that leads into the center of the rural village Velzo. At the house where the street splits, pick up Via Gottro to the right. Keep right and you come to a little piazza with a small chapel where you pick up Via Leopardi on the left. Past a washhouse you cross the road once more and pick up the mule track leading along the side of the beautiful parish Church S. Siro.
You reach the 17th century Villa Camozzi. It is the seat of the town hall of Grandola ed Uniti and of the Ethnographical and Naturalistic Museum Val Sanagra open every last Sunday of the month and from May till the end of September every second and last tel. 0344 32115.
Cross the road near the sport center and pick up Via Mulino. Follow the indications for "agriturismo La Vecchia Chioderia" that stands on the river Sanagra. Till 1820 it was a mill and then a factory where nails were made. Now-a-days it is a trout farm with a typical inn, an ideal spot to try the local dishes.
Cross the bridge and follow the track along the river to the right that passes by the ancient fornace Galli that has been recently restored and now hosts the seat of the Val Sanagra Park. The klin is an example of industrial archeology. The water power of the river and its clay was used to make bricks and roof tiles.
A nice walk along the river brings you to Mulino della Valle. From here ascend the track to the left in the direction of Piamuro. You pass the little chapel of Artus (read the interesting legend) and then arrive at the big pasture called Piamuro. From here descend the road to the hamlet of Loveno with its splendid villas and its park you can join a guided visit on Thursday afternoon at 14.30. We advise calling in advance tel. +39 0344 361232.
Just past the church of San Lorenzo with its baroque facade, you walk down Via Garovaglio and pass the Loveno sport center. Pick up Via XXIV Maggio that passes villa Bel Faggio and ends in Via Sauro that you follow on the right along the side walk. Then, follow the sign, and take the series of shortcuts that lead back to the center of Menaggio.