Walk towards Ganna from Ghirla. Ganna, mostly known for its small glacial lake, is the main town of the Valganna municipality and where Town Hall is located. From the town centre cross the main road and follow the signs down to a little park and a stream. Turn right after the bridge. Continue to your left to the 11th century monastery and abbey of the “Badia San Gemolo”. Turn left beyond the Badia and follow the first stretch of Parco Campo dei Fiori Track 15 towards the Lago di Ganna. After a few hundred metres you will arrive at a wooden bridge over the Pralugano River, the outlet of its namesake marsh and bog. Cross the bridge and turn left towards the Nature Reserve of Lago di Ganna, coinciding here with the Jubilee Trail (established by the Regione Lombardia in Jubilee Year 2000). Follow the educational trail illustrating the natural characteristics of the park until you are in the vicinity of the chapel and spring of San Gemolo, with a picnic area and the Nature Reserve’s aquatic wildlife observation centre. A little distance to the left you will find S. Gemolo’s chapel. From S. Gemolo’s spring double back on the educational trail to get back to Trail 15 in the direction of Brinzio. On the left the trail starts climbing the northern slopes of Monte Martica. One hundred metres higher you will find a scenic point. Continue uphill on Trail 15, mostly through beech, to the Valicci pasture, with two sets of beautiful old farmsteads and a vast meadow. Walk down a short cobblestone ramp to where a trail branches to the right to take you to another Campo dei Fiori Park picnic area. Continue to the left, through thick and shady copse. After a few hundred metres you will find the vast and flat Preciuso area, a hamlet on the territory of Brinzio. From there walk down the steep cobblestoned Via Sasselli to village of Brinzio. Brinzio is a small but fascinating rural community, with a namesake lake and thick cool woods surrounding it. The village centre is ancient and well maintained with old courtyards and alleys paved in hand-chipped local red stone. The parish church, dedicated to Peter and Paul, and the Madonna Addolorata chapel are worth a visit. The Campo dei Fiori Management Centre is also located here. Walk down to the Piazza Galvaligi, where the parish church is situated. In Brinzio you will find many accommodation opportunities.
Proceed to the left on Trail 10 to the Brinzio Lake and Nature Reserve. Follow Trail 10 signs south to the main road, which you will cross after a while to take a dirt track to the village of Rasa. Walk through the village and take the Via San Gottardo out of the village and back onto the main road. After a few hundred metres you will get to the Gottardo area, where you will turn right towards Oronco. You will reach it after approximately 1 km through copse and a small patch of pinewood. Follow the signs to the village of Santa Maria, with its famous sanctuary, and the end of the stage.
Trail description: Parco Campo dei Fiori.
Landscape, NATURA2000, protected area
Landscape and nature
The Campo dei Fiori Park, established in 1984, includes the Campo dei Fiori and the Monte Martica massifs. The Park is in a scenic position over the hill district of Varese Province, the Po River plain and the small hill-locked Alpine lakes. The Park lies between the Valcuvia Valley to the north and north-west; the Valganna valley to the east, while the southern portion of the Park borders the city of Varese and the main road to Laveno. The two main massifs are separated by the Valle Rasa, connecting the Valcuvia Valley to the Olona River Valley. Inside the Park six nature reserves protect the most important habitats. The Lago di Ganna Nature Reserve, The Lago di Brinzio Nature Reserve, The Pau Majur Bog, and the Carecc Bog are the Park’s main wet areas. The Monte Campo dei Fiori Nature Reserve presents a complex underground karstic system, rugged limestone cliffs, and vast beech and spruce forests; the Martica-Chiusarella Nature Reserve contains the last patches of dry acidic meadows, extremely rich in plant and invertebrate life. The eight Nature Landmarks, real nature gemstones of the Park are definitely worth a visit. Sixteen clearly sign-posted trails make visiting the park an easy and pleasurable experience. Long-distance trails also run through the Park, such as the E1 European Trail, the Jubilee Trail, the Via Verde Varesina Trail, and the Valcuvia Ring Trail. (Fonte: parcocampodeifiori.it)
Protected areas, proposed Emerald sites, Natura 2000 sites
• Campo dei Fiori Regional Park
• Lago di Ganna Nature Reserves
• Campo dei Fiori caves
• Lago di Brinzio Nature Reserve
• South of Brinzio the large erratic boulder is worth a detour and is on of the outstanding Nature landmarks of Campo dei Fiori Park.
• The Fonte del Ceppo Nature Landmark is near the Santa Maria del Monte church.
• This is one priority conservation area of the WWF European Alpine Programme
• Lago di Ganna, Natura 200o site
• Monte Martica Natura 2000 site
Wildlife, Natura 2000 species
Insects and crustaceans: Cerambyx cerdo, Lucanus cervus, Euplagia quadripunctaria Austropotamobius pallipes
Fishes: Cottus gobio, Leuciscus souffia
Amphibians: Rana latastei
Birds: Pernis apivorus, Milvus migrans, Circaetus gallicus, Falco peregrinus, Lanius collurio, Alcedo attui, Dryocopus martius
Bats: Myotis bechsteinii, Myotis capaccinii, Myotis emarginatus
WWF’s tips for hikers
Plan each stage carefully, purchase a 1:25000 map, use light but sturdy equipment (hiking boots, rain cape, binoculars…). Be sure to carry a small supply of water and food. We suggest you taste local food (possibly organic) at resting places and restaurants.
Do not litter, do not pick up flowers or rocks and in no way disturb the local fauna. It is unsafe for inexperienced hikers to leave the marked trails and it may cause disturbance to wildlife.
History and ethnography
• Monastery and abbey ‘Badia di S. Gemolo’ in Ganna
• San Gemolo chapel
• SS. Pietro e Paolo parish church and Madonna Addolorata chapel in Brinzio
• Campo dei Fiori Park centre in Brinzio
• S. Gottardo church, S. Maria degli Angeli parish church in Rasa
• The ‘Via delle Cappelle’ – Way of the chapels, Sacro Monte di Varese (UNESCO World Heritage site)
• The Beata Vergine sanctuary, Santa Maria del Monte – Sacro Monte of Varese
• The Convent of the Suore Romite Ambrosiane, Santa Maria del Monte
• Baroffio-Dell’Aglio and Pogliaghi Museums.
Next stage: Emerald Trail Ticino-Varese Province: Stage 18
Stage before: Emerald Trail Ticino-Varese Province: Stage 16