1st stage of the Via Francisca del Lucomagno – From Lavena Ponte Tresa to Ganna (14km)
The first Italian stage of the Via Francisca is surrounded by impressive natural scenery. It runs from Lake Lugano to the dense woods on the slopes of the Varesotto mountains.
The departure is from the customs office at Lavena Ponte Tresa. From there you walk along the lake as far as the centre of the village, from where you turn right and cross the Sp 61 road and climb up Via Ardena, which leads to the old tramway station that connected Ponte Tresa to Varese.
The path climbs gently through the woods, passing under two tunnels. Then you cross state road 233 and from there you reach Argentera Park, an interesting green area full of mills, small streams and majestic trees. It is a magical place, to be discovered in all seasons, ideal for a walk in the green or for a bicycle ride along the cycle path that crosses the woods. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, Cadegliano Viconago had no less than eighteen mills, located along the town’s numerous waterways and used for grinding chestnuts, cereals, sunflower seeds and walnuts. The park hides four of these ancient mills in the half-light. No longer in operation, they were embellished in the early 1900s with interesting graffito and fresco decorations inspired by chivalry. From Cadegliano we then continue on to Marchirolo and Cugliate Fabiasco, as far as Ghirla, with its natural oasis framing a small lake.
In Ghirla we find: the Maglio di Ghirla, one of the oldest and best preserved in the whole province. It dates back to the eighteenth century, when Master Ludovico Parietti decided to purchase the building to ensure his three sons a job in the iron forging sector. The potential was unquestionable. Building, agricultural and mechanical tools were produced.
Past the forge we take the cycle path to the Badia di San Gemolo in Ganna, a jewel of the Varese province. The Abbey stands in a strategic position along the Via Regina del Ceneri. Throughout the Middle Ages, this position allowed the abbey to be an important road junction, a safe haven for pilgrims, an efficient seat of government and a point of communication with the nearby Ticino region.
Famous as a place of worship dedicated to the memory of the martyr St Gemulus, whose remains are still displayed in the church altar. History has it that after his martyrdom, the bishop had the remains of his nephew Gemulus buried on a hill, where he had a chapel built a few years later. The term abbey refers to the architectural complex consisting of the church, bell tower, cloister, guest quarters and the surrounding monks’ quarters. The church dates back to 1100-1125, but was not consecrated until 1160. It has undergone some changes over time: the addition of side chapels at the end of the 16th century, the cloister built in the 14th century and the guest quarters with Gothic cloisters in the 15th century.
The stage ends at the edge of the Campo dei Fiori Regional Park, where the path for the second stage starts.
Further information on the Via Francisca del Lucomagno can be found here: https://www.spiritualtour.it/en/the-via-francisca-del-lucomagno/
In collaboration with: The Via Francisca del Lucomagno – https://www.laviafrancisca.org/