San Martino: Santuario Della Madonna delle Grazie di San Martino
San Martino is a small church perched on the mountain side above Griante, Lake Como (Lago di Como). It's official name is "Santuario Della Madonna delle Grazie di San Martino", but most everyone simply refers to it as San Martino. If you are in, near, or even just passing through Griante and the weather is clear, this is a place you must not miss - not so much for the church, which is pretty, but for the spectacular views of Lake Como that can be enjoyed both on the way up and once at the church.
Panoramic view from San Martino, Griante is below to the right
The hike, or more appropriately walk, to San Martino is relatively short at about 45 minutes up from Griante, or about 1 hour up from the shore of Lake Como. There are two paths that lead to San Martino. One starts from Rogaro, a large agricultural plain above Griante, the other begins at the northern edge of Griante just beyond the area of Griante known as Carsolina (download Map of Griante). Eventually they both meet, but the faster and easier route is the latter one that starts at Carsolina. Signs by the lake and also in Griante should point the way for you. Additionally, the church itself is visible from virtually every spot in Griante. But if you are not sure where you are going, just ask anyone on the street my simply saying "San Martino" and they will point you in the right direction.
Bring a panino, some cheese, fruit, a bottle of wine, and have a picnic while taking in the view!
There are a few steep sections, but the walk is along a well maintained and safe path that begins in the forest but quickly opens up offering excellent views of the lake. It is frequented by locals and tourists of all ages, but there are never crowds. A small chapel dedicated to the Alpini (Italian mountain soldiers) is reached at about half way up; it's is a perfect spot to take a break if you need one. Bring water as there is none at the top. There is a fountain in the village. If the weather is nice, bring a panino, some cheese, fruit and a bottle of wine and have a picnic while taking in the view.
Once you arrive at the church of San Martino, you are rewarded with spectacular views of Lake Como. From the small plateau on which the church sits, you are able to see Bellagio (the town that occupies Lake Como's peninsula), the town of Griante directly below, and the large mountains that line the eastern shores of the Lake such as Legnone and the Grigne.