Driving into Lago di Como is one of the most fantastic experiences you will have in Italy, the roads ascend through the sweetest towns and descend toward the water in various pockets. There’s a beautiful eeriness about the place in winter (which is when I first visited Como in 2011) and an ethereal awe in spring (which is when I visited this year). If you’re lucky enough to get a clear day then take advantage of this opportunity because it’s the best time to take landscape shots. When I was there we weren’t blessed with crystal clear air and I was told this is due to the mist that is caused from the heat of the sun interacting with the icy cool lake water. Thankfully it did clear up toward the afternoon *hoorah* so I managed to get a few happy snaps!
Located at the foothills of the Alps in the region of Lombardia, Lago di Como is the third largest lake in Italy (after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore). It’s often cited as a playground for the rich and wealthy with aristocrats flocking here since Roman times. As a result, there is an abundance of glamorous villas to visit or if you have enough $$$ to stay at (Balbianello, Melzi and Serbelloni to mention a few). What I find very interesting is that many people think Como only has one town – yes of course there’s Como but that’s not all! The most visited towns in Como include: Bellagio, Como, Lecco, Menaggio, Tremezzo and Varenna therefore the best thing to do in my opinion is to purchase a Central Lakes pass, which will take you to Menaggio, Varenna, Bellagio, Cadenabbia, Tremezzo and Lenno – it’s very good value for money from memory and gives you a chance to get a feel for the different parts of the lake.
We were lucky enough to stay a friends home in Lenno whilst we were in Como! The property was lovely and I would highly recommend it given that the interior was super comfy and there’s a small but sweet view of the lake. It’s also not as touristy in Lenno as in other parts of Como so if you’d prefer a more local feel then this is definitely the spot for you! The only thing I would say is that we had a car to get to town so if you were walking it’s probably about 10-15 minutes down to the water but there are so many quaint houses along the way that I wouldn’t have minded the walk anyway!
You can find the property here – https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/3072954?s=pJAg
There’s so much incredible food in Como you will NOT be disappointed. Here’s a few of my faves from the trip.
Alle Darsene di Loppia
Michelin star restaurant Alle Darsene di Loppia is without a doubt one of the best food experiences you’ll have in Como. It came recommended to us by a friend who is a chef and had been to this place a couple of days in a row because it was that delicious! Check the photos for yourself 🙂
Bar Il Golfo
This is the place where all the locals hang out in Lenno! Satisfying pizzas with an incredible view? Check!
La Fabbrica del Gelato
As I mentioned in my blog post here the best gelato I had in Italy was most definitely in Lenno! This place is IN-CRED-AHBLEEEE! Check out the full article for more info.
Trattoria Santo Stefano
No photos for this one as I was too ill to go out for dinner but highly recommend by my friends who ate there! The pasta is apparently on point.
The estate of the late eccentric billionaire and explorer Guido Monzino is nestled on the tip of the Dosso Lavedo, a wooded promontory on the South-West branch of Lake Como. Villa Balbianello was gifted to the Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano (FAI), the National Trust of Italy, in the late 80’s and has since been converted into a museum and event space. FAI currently run daily tours in the villa and I highly recommend you check this out as the tour guides are very well-informed and have a lot of detailed information about the mysterious man who owned the property as well as other tid-bits of historical relevance. You’ll also have a chance to peep at some of the underground tunnels, which were built for a speedy escape. Overall this was one of my favourite Italian experiences and a lot had to with how engaged the tour guide made me feel. It also helped that the villa wasn’t bad on the eyes.
This place is definitely glitz and glamour and much more commercial than Lenno (also more tourists) but it does have some stunning views to check out.
The Central Lakes Pass