Orrido di Bellano with its natural waterfall and gorge carved into the rocky mountainside is among the most fascinating natural places in Lombardy and, no doubt, among the things to see on the eastern shore of Lake Como.
In the Italian language “orrido“ is usually reffered to something scary or that generates fear but it also identifies uncultivated wild place or a landscape of hideous beauty.
Orrido di Bellano is considered to be one of the scariest canyon of Italy, perhaps due to its unique morphology or for the weird legends it is wrapped in. This natural wonder was formed 15 million years ago, with the stream Pioverna that has drawn the sinuous lines between Taceno, Valsassina and Bellano. The furrow was getting deeper and deeper as the years go by thus creating an increasingly accentuated throat. The waters were exploited already in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for the processing of iron that was extracted from the mines in Valsassina and later from the Cotonificio Cantoni. The traces of the industrial history of the territory are still evident and today the waterfall’s force is used to feed two hydro-electric plants.
By visiting the Orrido you will follow a suggestive route suspended between the narrow and deep gorges carved into the rock. An exciting succession of emerald pools and water jumps, caves, vertical walls and waterfalls.
The only sound you will hear inside the canyon is the thunderous rustle of the waters of the Pioverna stream that still winds along the gorges and continues its thousand-year work before emptying into Lake Como. The lush and wild vegetation that grows inside makes it similar to a distant, almost exotic place.
The route is fairly brief but you can combine the visit with a lot of things to do around Lake Como.
It is better to wear trekking shoes, the wooden walkways built along the path are extremely accessible but some of them can be slippery. It is not possible to visit with baby carriage or stroller, because there are some staircases along the way. Dogs are allowed.
Are you curious to check out this original canyon on Lake Como? If not yet, keep on reading.
Orrido di Bellano: the legend
What is narrated is that in the Orrido of Bellano lies a brave warrior named Taino buried along with his treasure guarded by a huge stone that covers the burial. The many mysterious tunnels that connect “clandestinely” the Orrido with Bellano village, were also used during the Austrian occupation to avoid the patrols during the curfew.
In this unordinary place there is also a four-storey hexagonal tower located at the entrance of the Orrido that locals name “the house of the Devil”.
The building with irregular layout and railings on windows has a spiral inner staircase, no one knows for certain who has projected and built it. It is said that the building exists since a lot of centuries even before 1600 and in 1700 housed a museum of fossils. The name Ca’ del diavolo (house of the Devil) is mainly linked to the presence of certain types of decoration depicting mythological characters but it is also said that inside were held parties with satanic rituals.
How to reach the canyon by train:
The Orrido is located about 450 meters from the Bellano train station and about 250 meters from the ferry terminal. There are direct trains from Milan to Bellano city (Trenitalia website), if you decide to come to Bellano by boat check the ferry schedule here.