Orrindo Di Ballano

Visiting Orrido di Bellano Italy: Lake Como’s Best Kept Secret

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As an avid Italy traveler, I was amazed when I first discovered the breathtaking Orrido di Bellano near Lake Como. This natural gorge carved out over millions of years is one of the most fascinating attractions in the Lombardy region.

In this complete guide, I’ll share everything you need to know to plan your own visit to Orrido di Bellano, including how to get there, when to visit, what to expect, and more tips from my personal experience.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/visiting-orrindo-di-bellano-italy/

A Brief Introduction to Orrido di Bellano

The Orrido di Bellano is a narrow canyon formed by the Pioverna stream, located right next to the beautiful town of Bellano on Lake Como in northern Italy.

Over 15 million years, the waters of the Pioverna stream and the Adda glacier gradually eroded away the rock to form this deep natural gorge with gorgeous caves, ravines, and waterfalls.

Today, you can walk through the canyon on a series of footbridges attached to the towering rock walls above the rushing waters below. It’s an incredible experience, unlike anywhere else in Italy!

The Orrido di Bellano has inspired many artists and writers over the years, like Stendhal who wrote about it in his book Italian Journey in the 19th century.

Visiting Orrido di Bellano in Italy: Lake Como’s Best Kept Secret

Visiting this natural wonder is one of the top things to do in Bellano and the Lake Como area. But since it’s lesser-known than other attractions like Bellagio and Varenna, you’ll beat the crowds.

How to Get to Orrido di Bellano

Orrido di Bellano is located right next to the town of Bellano, about 5 miles north of Varenna on Lake Como.

Here are the easiest ways to reach the canyon when visiting from Milan or Como:

Orrido di Bellano From Milan:

  • Take the train from Milan Centrale or Cadorna stations to Varenna-Esino station (about 1 hour). Then take the local train on the Lecco-Sondrio line 2 stops to Bellano (5 mins).
  • Alternatively, drive from Milan to Bellano via the SS36 highway and SP62 road (about 1 hour 15 mins). Parking is available at the gorge entrance.

Orrido di Bellano From Como:

  • Take the local train on the Lecco-Sondrio line from Como San Giovanni station to Bellano (about 45 mins).
  • Drive from Como to Bellano via the SP342 road and SS36 highway (about 40 mins).

The Orrido entrance is a short 5-10 minute walk from the Bellano train station and town center. Just cross the Pioverna River on the Ponte Pedonale footbridge, walk right, and follow signs to the ticket office.

When to Visit Orrido di Bellano

The gorge is open daily from January through December. Opening hours vary by season:

  • Spring (March-May): 10am-6pm daily
  • Summer (June-August): 10am-10pm daily
  • Fall (September-October): 10am-7pm daily
  • Winter (November-February): 11am-5pm weekends and holidays only

Ideally visit the Orrido di Bellano in the warmer months between spring and fall, when you can enjoy longer opening hours and mild weather.

Summer is peak season with the most crowds. For a less busy experience, target spring or fall. I loved visiting on a September afternoon when there were fewer tourists but still plenty of sunlight.

The winter season is limited to just weekends, but it can be an especially atmospheric time to see the gorge! Just make sure to bundle up, as the paths can get slippery.

Aim to arrive when it opens in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the midday rush in summer. Allow 1.5-2 hours to fully explore the canyon at a relaxed pace.

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What to Expect When Visiting Orrido di Bellano

Walking through the Bellano Gorge is an unforgettable experience! Here are some things to expect and look out for during your visit:

Entry Ticket: Tickets to enter Orrido di Bellano cost 5 EUR for adults and 3 EUR for kids ages 6-12. Children under 6 enter free. Special rates are available for groups over 15 people.

Footbridges and Walkways: Once inside, you’ll traverse footbridges attached along the rocky walls overlooking the river below. The paths wind through the narrow gorge flanked by lush vegetation.

Waterfalls and Pools: One highlight is seeing the waterfalls and pools scattered throughout the canyon, including a large cascading waterfall halfway through.

Caves and Grottos: Keep an eye out for small caves and grottos carved into the rock walls surrounding you.

Lighting: The lighting illuminates the gorge beautifully in the evenings. Go at sunset to see the interplay of natural light and artificial lighting.

Wildlife: Look for small fish and aquatic life in the crystal clear pools as well as birds overhead.

Casa del Diavol: At the entrance, you’ll see a mysterious old stone tower house called Casa del Diavol (Devil’s House). Legend says it hosted pagan gatherings and devil worship here!

Multimedia Museum (coming soon): There are plans to open an interactive multimedia museum inside the Casa del Diavol that will share more about the history and legends of the gorge.

Tips for Visiting Orrido di Bellano

As an experienced Italy traveler, here are my top tips for making the most of your visit to the Bellano Gorge:

  • Wear sturdy walking shoes with good traction, since the footbridges can be slippery
  • Bring a light jacket – it stays cool inside the shaded canyon
  • Visit early or late in the day to beat the crowds
  • Allow at least 1.5 hours to walk through at a relaxed pace
  • Bring your camera – the lighting and scenery make gorgeous photos
  • Keep an eye out for small grottos and caves carved into the walls
  • Listen for the rushing sound of waterfalls and the birds overhead
  • See the Casa del Diavol tower at the entrance before you leave
  • Consider booking a guided tour for insightful commentary about the gorge
  • Check online for deals on combination tickets with Villa Monastero
  • Head up to the Belvedere viewpoint for sunset after your visit

When is the Best Time to See Sunlight in Orrido di Bellano?

The morning hours tend to provide the best natural sunlight illuminating the gorge. Aim to arrive shortly after opening time (10am in summer) when sunlight first starts streaming in. The afternoon tends to be more shaded.

For photographers, late morning around 11am is ideal for capturing the beams of light piercing through the canyon walls and reflecting off the crystal blue pools below.

Purchasing Tickets in Advance Online

You can buy entry tickets to Orrido di Bellano online in advance through the official website which could help you skip the ticket line, especially during peak visitor hours.

Advance tickets cost the same as on-site and are valid any day the gorge is open during the calendar year. Make sure to print your voucher or have it available on your phone to show upon entry.

Having a timed ticket could also prevent you from having to wait if capacity is limited. Only visit outside your reserved ticket time if there is availability after checking with staff.

Amenities and Services Inside Orrido di Bellano

A few amenities and services provided within Orrido di Bellano include:

  • Restrooms – public restrooms are available at the entrance and midpoint of the gorge
  • Vending machines – there are a few vending machines inside to purchase drinks/snacks
  • Emergency phone – an emergency contact phone is located in the middle in case of safety issues
  • Gift shop – a small gift shop at the exit sells souvenirs and postcards
  • Picnic area – you can eat at the picnic tables near the parking lot after exploring

No major food services are located directly within the gorge itself, so plan to eat beforehand in Bellano or pack snacks.

Accessibility at Orrindo Di Ballano for Wheelchairs and Strollers

Parts of Orrido di Bellano are wheelchair and stroller accessible, but some narrow sections of the footbridges may be difficult to navigate.

The first 300 meters of the gorge are accessible for wheelchairs via a dedicated ramp pathway with space for turning around. Beyond that point, the footbridges have steps and uneven terrain that pose challenges.

Visitors with limited mobility may be better off accessing the first portion only. Check with staff upon arrival for latest accessibility updates.

Orrindo Di Ballano Length and Layout of the Gorge Trail

The complete Orrido di Bellano gorge pathway is approximately 1km long. It takes around 45-60 minutes to complete at a leisurely walking pace, allowing for stops.

The trail loops in a rough “U” shape, bringing you back towards the entrance rather than ending on the opposite side.

There are a few exit points along the way if you don’t want to do the full circuit. But try to walk the entire length if you have time to see all the sights!

Orrindo Di Ballano Pets and Dogs Policy

Dogs and pets are allowed inside Orrido di Bellano, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

The uneven terrain and footbridges are tricky for some dogs, so be mindful of your pet’s mobility. Also be aware the area echoes, so barking dogs can disturb the peace.

If you plan to visit with a dog, go early or late when fewer people are around. And be prepared to carry your pup if needed!

Orrindo Di Ballano Guided Tours of Orrido di Bellano

Joining a guided tour can provide fascinating historical context and stories about the Bellano Gorge not covered on the signs.

Tours typically last 1-1.5 hours and are offered daily in Italian and English upon request. The cost is usually around €10 per person in addition to normal admission.

Reserve guided tours in advance online through the official Orrido di Bellano website. Or inquire same-day based on availability if your schedule is flexible.

Knowledgeable local guides will take you through the key sights while sharing legends, geology, and more detail about this natural wonder.

Orrindo Di Ballano Safety Tips for Visiting with Kids

Orrido di Bellano is suitable for children, but take precautions as certain areas pose risks:

  • Keep close watch on children near the footbridges with no railings
  • Hold their hand when crossing slippery areas
  • Prevent leaning or climbing on walls and rocks
  • Listen for echoes that amplify sound to avoid shouting
  • Remain cautious around pool edges and cascading water
  • Leave strollers outside and use baby carriers instead

By taking care and following the rules, families will find the gorge’s beauty outweighs any safety concerns. But supervise young ones actively.

Orrindo Di Ballano Cell Service and Wifi in the Gorge

Cell phone service and wifi connectivity inside Orrido di Bellano can be spotty in the deep gorge. Parts may have no signal at all!

If you need to stay connected during your visit, download maps ahead of time. And set meeting points with companions in case you lose contact in the canyon.

Be sure to enable roaming capabilities with your carrier for Italy beforehand if you wish to text or call during your walk through. But keep phones secured, as drops can happen!

Best Photo Spots in Orrido di Bellano

The most picturesque spots for photos in Orrido di Bellano include:

  • The viewpoint at the gorge entrance overlooking Casa del Diavol
  • The large cascading waterfall and bridge halfway through
  • The final footbridge beside the huge boulder and lush greenery
  • Near the exits where sunlight streams into the emerald pools
  • Along the ramp pathway before stairs begin for unobstructed shots

For unique perspectives, take photos looking up at the towering gorge walls surrounding you and the light patterns cast on the rock. The key is capturing the gorge’s vertical scale.

Thrilling Parts of Orrido di Bellano

Some parts of the Orrido di Bellano trail may get your adrenaline pumping, if you like adventure!

The highest footbridges with see-through metal grates and no railings have sheer drops on either side, which creates an exhilarating rush.

Walking beside the top of the powerful, loud waterfall as it crashes down right next to you is a thrill, with plenty of spray!

And for daredevils, peering down into the dark cavern-like ravines below the catwalks provides a frightening sense of just how deep the gorge lies below your feet.

Lean against the rock wall if you feel uneasy, move slow, and don’t look down if heights make you nervous!

Recommended Restaurants in Bellano

Before or after visiting Orrido di Bellano, check out these restaurants in Bellano town center:

  • Osteria del Pescatore – Casual spot to enjoy lake fish and pasta
  • La Tana dell’Orso – Charming restaurant serving Italian classics and polenta
  • Trattoria La Vecchia Magnolia – Waterfront dining with scenic lake views
  • Ristorante Terrazza – Sophisticated cuisine and rooftop seating
  • Bar Gelateria Gardenia – Artisan gelato, crepes, and desserts

There are also picnic tables outside the gorge to eat snacks you bring. And Varenna has many restaurants if you visit the town before/after.

Extend Your Visit in Bellano

While the gorge is the top attraction in town, Bellano has a few other sights worth exploring:

Villa Monastero – An elegant villa and gardens on Lake Como used for conferences and events.

Basilica of San Nicolò – A beautiful church with frescoes dating back to the 11th century.

Orrido Nature Park – Hiking trails around the gorge with picnic areas and a children’s play park.

Lake Como Promenade – Stroll along Bellano’s scenic lakefront promenade and pebble beach.

Piazza Santa Marta – Have a coffee or aperitivo on this pretty square overlooking the lake.

Belvedere viewpoint – Take in panoramic views of Lake Como from this hilltop viewpoint.

Day trip to Varenna – Hop on the ferry and spend a day exploring charming Varenna just 15 minutes away.

Where to Eat and Stay in Bellano

If you’re looking for restaurants, hotels, vacation rentals or B&Bs in the Bellano area, here are some great options to consider:

Restaurants in Bellano

  • Trattoria La Vecchia Magnolia – Charming trattoria along the promenade serving lake fish.
  • La Tana Dell’Orso – Cozy restaurant in the old town with traditional cuisine. Try their polenta dishes!
  • Bar Gelateria Gardenia – Top spot for artisan gelato, crepes, and coffee drinks.
  • Osteria del Pescatore – Casual pizzeria and trattoria near the Orrido entrance.

Hotels in Bellano

Vacation Rentals in Bellano

  • Appartamenti sul Lago – Charming lakeview apartments in the historic center.
  • Casa Vacanze Il Perlo Panoramico – Cozy self-catering apartments with views of the gorge.
  • La Casa Degli Gnomi – Quaint lakeview cottages on the hills above town.

Day Trips from Bellano

Some suggested day trips near Bellano include:

  • Varenna – Gorgeous lake village only 15 mins away by ferry
  • Menaggio – Lively town with a lakefront promenade
  • Como – Historic city with charming neighborhoods to explore
  • Brunate – Quiet hilltop village with panoramic views
  • Bellagio – The scenic jewel of Lake Como
  • Lecco – See the backdrop for Manzoni’s novel The Betrothed
  • Bergamo – Medieval and Renaissance city with upper and lower towns

With its unique natural canyon and proximity to Lake Como, Bellano is the perfect base for exploring some of Italy’s most beautiful scenery. I hope this guide gives you all the information you need to plan your own visit Orrido di Bellano during an unforgettable trip to northern Italy.

From the mysterious Casa del Diavol to the thunderous waterfalls, walking through Bellano Gorge is an experience like no other. Just come prepared with sturdy shoes, an adventurous spirit, and your camera to capture it all!

Meta description: The Orrido di Bellano near Lake Como is an awe-inspiring natural gorge with ravines, waterfalls, and caves to explore. Learn how to plan your visit to this lesser-known Italian jewel with tips for getting there, when to go, what to expect, local sights & more.

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