Orrido di Bellano: Lake Como’s hidden gem

The Orrido di Bellano, a breathtaking natural gorge with gushing waterfalls, is one of Lake Como’s best-kept secrets. Located in Bellano, a peaceful village on the shore of Lake Como and just north of busy Varenna, the Orrido di Bellano is a natural wonder and well worth a visit.

Rust-coloured metal walkways along the edges of a rocky gorge with a river at the bottom
The Orrido di Bellano is a beautiful natural wonder in Lake Como

About the Orrido di Bellano

The Orrido di Bellano is a striking, canyon-like gorge with the Pioverna River running through it. The Orrido, which at its deepest point is 50 metres deep, was formed over 15 million years, as the Adda glacier and the Pioverna River cut through the limestone and dolomite rocks.

A narrow rocky ravine, with a wooden walkway suspended on one side
The gorge is just a few metres wide for much of its length

The drama of the Orrido is made even more impressive by the waterfalls that you’ll see all the way along. The narrowness of the gorge, the cool humidity of the waterfalls and the lush green vegetation make the Orrido di Bellano a wonderful place to visit, and very different to the other sights on this part of Lake Como. It’s also a brilliant place to visit to cool off on hot days!

Metal steps above a small waterfall
There are waterfalls all the way along the route

The Ca del Diavol (Devil’s House)

One of the most striking features of the Orrido di Bellano is the Ca del Diavol or Devil’s House, a mysterious tower which perches precariously on a rocky outcrop at the entrance to the Orrido gorge. The tower’s five-sided shape and eerie location gave rise to stories of satanic rituals, secret gatherings and other NSFW activities.

Looking down at the entrance to the Orrido di Bellano and the five-sided Ca' del Diavol tower, with the village of Bellano and Lake Como beyond
Looking down at the entrance to the Orrido di Bellano and the Ca’ del Diavol, with the village of Bellano and Lake Como beyond

The Ca del Diavol has been renovated recently and is now a museum telling the story of the Orrido and of Bellano itself. Inside, there are immersive exhibits, a VR section and you can see the original frescoes of the devil and other mythological figures which give the tower its name.

Unfortunately actually visiting the museum is a little hit and miss; for my visit in May 2023 I’d booked a ticket which included the museum, but when I arrived, the staff looked confused and said nobody was available to give the tour in English and if I didn’t speak Italian then I wouldn’t be able to understand the exhibits. More recent reviews say there are several tours a day in English, but the online booking system doesn’t give times for different languages.

What you can see at the Orrido di Bellano

The start of the Orrido di Bellano is a little underwhelming as the first thing you’ll see (apart from the Ca del Diavol tower) is a giant water pipe which diverts the river away from the village at the end of the gorge. It gets a lot better very quickly though!

A small waterfall flowing down a rocky cliff with ferns and bushes all around
Just one of the many waterfalls you’ll see in the Orrido di Bellano

A few steps further on, the gorge narrows dramatically and you’ll be struck by the dramatic contrast between the steep cliffs and the roaring torrent of the Pioverna River surging through the narrow chasm. The gorge’s walls are the result of millions of years of erosion and you can still see the textures created by the water that flowed over them thousands of years ago. The sound of the water rushing through the canyon and tumbling over waterfalls is absolutely amazing.

The path through the Orrido di Bellano is suspended on walkways and bridges which cling to the rock face. The walkways are well-maintained, wide and have safety railings. It’s an easy walk; there are quite a few steps but they’re fairly spread out and the parts in between are level. Unfortunately there’s no alternative routes if steps are an issue.

A wide rocky valley with suspended walkways on either side and lots of ferns
Towards the end of the walk, the gorge opens out to reveal a big waterfall

The route through the gorge takes around 45 minutes to complete, assuming you’ll be stopping at every corner to take photos of the amazing surroundings.

You’ll see countless waterfalls as you walk through the Orrido di Bellano, but the most impressive is at the end of the gorge, as it begins to open up. A wide stream of water gushes over the edge of the cliff and down into the gorge. There are great views of it flowig down into the river below from the walkway.

A wide waterfall flowing down a rocky slope
The large, wide waterfall towards the end of the walk

How to get to the Orrido di Bellano

Getting to the Orrido di Bellano is really easy. Bellano is served by frequent ferries including the mid-lake routes which call at Bellagio and Varenna and fast ferries from Como. Bellano has its own train station on the Milan to Tirano line. If you’re driving, there’s parking available in the village centre.

The Orrido di Bellano is only 5-10 minutes’ walk from the ferry dock, the train station and the car park on Piazza San Giorgio (Google Maps link). Head for the village church (Chiesa Prepositurale dei Santi Nazaro e Celso) and take the narrow path to the right hand side of the church. After a couple of minutes’ walk, you’ll see the entrance to the Orrido di Bellano through a little gate on the right hand side.

Stone steps leading down to a church with a tall tower, with a lake and mountains beyond
The steps that lead from the church to the entrance to the Orrido

Ticket prices

The entrance fee for the Orrido di Bellano is €6 for adults, €4 for children aged 4 to 12, and free for children under 4. The ticket allows you to explore the entire gorge and its network of walkways and bridges.

A small, old stone bridge crossing a fiercely flowing stream
You can see some older structures in the gorge, including this old stone aqueduct

In summary

Visiting the Orrido di Bellano was one of my favourite places to visit in Lake Como. It was much quieter than anywhere else we visited, with none of the crowds that we saw in Bellagio or at Villa del Balbianello. During our visit in early May 2023 we only saw 5 or 6 other groups.

In a deep, rocky gorge, with a walkway on the right hand side and a river in the bottom. At the top of the picture, a stone bridge soars over it all.
The gorge was formed 15 million years ago

It was a slightly cloudy day (which you can see in my photos), and the temperature down in the ravine was slightly cooler than outside. I think the Orrido would be a wonderful place to escape from the summer heat!

Visiting the Orrido di Bellano is an unforgettable experience that combines natural beauty, geological wonders, and a touch of mystery. I hope I’ve managed to convince you to visit the Orrido on your next trip to Lake Como – I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as I did!

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