If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Milano, then Lake Como is the destination for you. It’s luxurious and peaceful.
A brief intro
The lake is in the Lombardy region of Italy. It has glacier origins, dating back to thousands of years. Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy, after Lakes Garda and Maggiore. And it’s also one of the deepest in Europe.
Lake Como is shaped like a Y. The tip of the northern branch touches the city of Colico, while the southern one reaches Lecco and Como. Other enchanting towns live on the lake’s shores, such as Varenna, Menaggio, and Bellagio. The Adda River feeds the lake, while the Lambro originates from the lake district.
This is a longtime favorite retreat for Italy’s rich and famous. Lake Como promises a great time and wonderful memories. It’s definitely something you should add to a Northern Italy road trip. If you’re looking to travel to Lake Como by train from Milan, there are plenty of easy options all day long. But it can be reached by bus or car as well.
Lake Como, the Villas
Beautiful villas dot the shores of the lake. Ever since the days of Pliny the Younger. He built two lake resorts, the Tragedia and the Commedia. Many villas boast gorgeous gardens that thrive thanks to the area’s mild climate.
One of the most popular villas is Villa Carlotta. Milanese merchant Girogio Clerici built in 1690. It’s in Tremezzo, which faces the Bellagio peninsula. ThIs villa boasts a large Italian garden filled with gorgeously carved fountains and sculptures.
Villa del Balbianello is also famous for its beautiful terraced gardens. They are also featured in the 007’s saga, Casino Royale. This villa sits on a promontory on the western shore of the lake. It’s close to Isola Comacina. The mansion was built in 1787, where once there was a Franciscan monastery. The villa was donated to FAI (Fondo dell’ Ambiente Italiano, National Thrust for Italy) with its entire collection of furniture and art. The gardens are a major tourist attraction and so is its interior, turned into a beautiful museum.
In the town of Bellagio, the Vice President of the Napoleonic Italian Republic built Villa Melzi. In 1808, Francesco Melzi asked for help to designer Giocondo Albertolli. For this villa, they mimicked neo-classical style. In fact, the mansion boasts a park with orangery, a Japanese garden, and chapel.
Lake Como, places to visit
The city of Como is about 45 kilometers from Milan, on the south western arm of the lake. Como is a popular tourist destination, also thanks to its proximity with the Alps.
There are a lot of things to see and do in the city. Like visiting the churches, theaters, palaces, and parks. Or the cathedral and the museums. The main attractions are Casa del Fascio, the Broletto (the medieval town hall), Teatro Sociale, Tempio Voltiano. Also, the city’s public gardens, such as Villa Olmo, Basilica of Sant’Abbondio and the Duomo.
The Piazza San Fedele features the basilica and many buildings that are centuries old.
The city of Lecco
On the south east branch of Lake Como, stands the city of Lecco, with towering mountain ranges framing it. Lecco is a city of bridges, which helped increase trade and transportation with Milano and Como.
Three of these bridges cross Lake Como. There is the Alessandro Manzoni Bridge, which dates back to 1985, the Kennedy Bridge from 1956, and the Azzone Visconti Bridge from 1335.
The quaint town of Bellagio is famous because of its location. In fact, it’s at the intersection of the lake’s three branches. This is Bellagio, known as the Pearl of the Lake. The city stands between the Alps and Lake Como. And it features winding cobblestoned streets, gorgeous views, and perfectly appointed villas like Villa Serbelloni.
When you visit Bellagio, you can’t miss the Villa Melzi d’Eril, from 1808. The villa was built for Francesco Melzi d’Eril, who had been nominated Duke of Lodi by Napoleon. Here, you will find beautiful English gardens with artifacts and monuments. Fun fact: many of these items had been brought to Bellagio through the Venetian gondolas, as requested by Napoleon himself.
More fun activities
On the west side of Lake Como, you can’t miss the Tempio Voltiano. If you walk a little further you will encounter Villa d’Olmo, the lake house of Pilny the Elder.
For an unforgettable view, you can also take the funivia (cable car) to Brunate. The area of Monte Boletto is a hikers’ paradise. Finally, the small towns of Tremezzo and Varenna are picturesque and charming.
Of course, the entire area of the lake is charming and picturesque. The best part? It’s easy to reach it from Milan, both by car and with public transportation.
Hope we’ve convinced you! If you’re interested to plan a North of Italy road trip, definitely include to your itinerary Lake Como as well!
Edited by Francesca Bezzone