In the north of Lombardy, very close to the Swiss border, lies Lake Como (Italian: Lago di Como). Like a gem, the waters of Como glisten in the rim of the Alpine mountains. The extremely deep and fabulously beautiful lake is loved by the original Italians and numerous guests of the country. Mountain landscapes framed by fluffy clouds serve as a source of inspiration for writers, artists and film industry workers. Luxurious villas, manicured parks and the gentle waves of a mountain lake envelop visitors to the resort with a paradise bliss.
Como receives a bronze prize in the championship of the Italian lakes, judging strictly by its size. Water Mirror Area - 145 km2, length - 47 km, width - 4 km. With a bottom depth of about 410 m, Como owes its glacial past to the mountain valley. The pond has a very unusual silhouette in the shape of a slingshot. The Adda River (Italian Adda), winding between the mountain peaks, fills the base of the slingshot. Approximately in the middle of its length, the reservoir is divided into two winding arms. The “handle” of the slingshot or the northern arm of the lake is called Colico, the southeastern arm is called Lecco, and finally, the southwestern part of the lake is called Como.
The lake is open to ship traffic and generously refers to the representatives of the fishing fraternity. The greenhouse climate of the alpine foothills allows locals to cultivate Mediterranean cultures that usually do not survive on Lombard lands. Olives, pomegranates, myrtle, cypress and vineyards adorn the lake shores and bring a good harvest. Clean air, clear water, vibrant nature and modest architectural monuments attract tourists and vacationers to the hospitable shores of Lake Como.
History and title
History has preserved for posterity several long-standing names of the alpine reservoir. Thus, the ancient Greeks awarded the lake the epithet Lario (Greek Λάριος), and the Romans translated this name into Latin (Lacus Lārius). The name comes from the root "lar", which means "deep place". With the advent of the Middle Ages, the old name of the lake lost its popularity, giving way to a new name - Como (short for lacus comensis).
During the heyday of the Roman Empire, rich and empowered people built their residences in the valley by the lake. For example, the Roman poet Virgil, chose a site on the coast of a picturesque lake. The politician of the great Rome, Guy Pliny the Younger, also loved to relax among the mountain beauties of Lario.
During the Renaissance, the Italian genius Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked on the shores of a wonderful reservoir.
Nowadays, Como is highly regarded by foreign celebrities. Adventurous guides will point travelers to the gates of luxury villas owned by European and Hollywood actors. By the way, incredibly beautiful views of the lake, beautiful well-groomed nature, adorned the famous films. The second episode of Star Wars, Ocean’s Twelve Friends, and even the Casino Royale series of bondiads owe their beauty to the Italian Como.
Small resort towns and rural-oriented villages are scattered along the shores of the lake. Large, and even more noisy resorts in the vicinity of Como simply can not be found. However, by the middle of the 19th century, the leisurely life of small villages began to boil with events. Noble Italian and European aristocrats launched the "era of villas." At a certain moment, acquiring a luxurious residence on the banks of Como became not only fashionable, but also prestigious, in the circle of rich and influential people.
Based on the picture described above, we can say that Como offers tourists a vacation full of beautiful landscapes, walks along small streets with views of the rich estates. Aesthetic pleasure from small historical monuments and the joy of staying in the lap of lush Italian nature. Mountain walks, fun on the water, measured rest on the shore of a mountain lake. We will tell you more about the valley of Lake Como below.
The city of Como (Como) has the status of the center of the province of Como. Its location is the southwestern sleeve of the lake of the same name. BC the city bore the Latin name Comum. Como gained special significance for its region in the Middle Ages, when it passed into the hands of the Milanese nobles Sforza and Visconti. The area regularly supplied Italy with wool and silk of its own production. In the XV century, a printing workshop appeared in the city, which was very successful. In the XX century, tragic events intertwined with the history of the city. It was here that the Italian duce Benito Mussolini and the lady of his heart were shot.
The historic city center - Cavour Square is a very interesting place. It is decorated with the Cathedral of the city (Duomo di Como). The local Duomo was founded at the end of the 14th century, and completed in the 17th century. The solid construction period of the cathedral awarded him with an unusually expressive architecture, which absorbed the best of Gothic and Renaissance. Visitors cannot but be impressed by the rich interior of the Cathedral, as well as its majestic silhouette, towering against the background of other buildings.
Basilica of St. Abbondio
Travelers can also enjoy the 13th century Broletto Town Hall. Another attraction related to religion is the Basilica of St. Abbondio. The Romanesque church, faced with light rusty stone, was built in the early centuries. And consecrated by one of the bishops of Como, Amanzio. For 5 centuries, the basilica served as the residence and treasury for the highest dignities of the church. Also on the territory of St. Abbondio was the burial of the deceased bishops. In the 11th century, the church passed into the hands of the Order of the Benedictines. Visitors to the city will be interested to see the Romanesque bas-reliefs, as well as the majestic fresco encrusting the dome of the temple.
Walking through the streets of Como, it is impossible not to notice the castle of Baradello (Castel Baradello). Located on a hill, the medieval castle looks very picturesque. The walls of Baradello tower over the city by almost 400 meters. From this height, you can observe the beautiful panorama of the lake, the valley and admire the Apennine mountain range and the nearby peaks of the Alps. If you are lucky enough to get to the surroundings of Como in the month of September, then you can get to the costumed knightly battles held annually in the walls of Baradello.
Villa Carlotta and Olmo
And, of course, Como is famous for its galaxy of beautiful estates of historical value. So, Villa Carlotta, built at the end of the XVII century, amazes with a magnificent park, made in the Italian style. The impressions are enhanced by the expertly crafted statues of Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen. Visitors to the villa can look into the museum, rich in works of art and wonderful interiors.
Another attraction is Villa Olmo, built in 1790 for the imperious Odescalchi family. At one time, the owner of the estate received such great guests as Napoleon Bonaparte and the Austrian diplomat Prince Klemens von Metternich.
There is a funicular in Como, where you can soar to the top of Brunate Mountain and from there freely explore all the surroundings. By the way, nearby Como is the resort of Medesimo, passionately loved by fans of skiing!
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If we move from the southwestern to the southeastern branches of Lake Como, we will find ourselves in the province of Lecco. Its administrative center is an ancient city of the same name. The city, large by the standards of the lake, is able to offer its guests various options for resort and outdoor activities, as well as walks along picturesque streets and squares.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
An obligatory point of tourist routes is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Basilica di San Nicolò a Lecco), dated to the XVIII century. The patron saint of the city received under his guardianship a Romanesque temple and a bell tower, under a height of 100 meters. Residents of Lecco affectionately nicknamed the Matitone bell tower, aimed at the sky - "pencil."
Lecco's old center is September 20 (piazza XX Settembre). It has long been a city market and many small attractions. Such as the Palazzo delle Paure (Palazzo delle Paure), in other words, the "Palace of Fear". A well-kept four-story mansion was built at the beginning of the 20th century. Witty Italians awarded the title of the tax administration with such a chilling name.
Management of urban affairs is carried out from another palace - the Palazzo Bovara, built by the architect Giuseppe Bovara in the XIX century. The following wonders of the city of Lecco also deserve the attention of travelers: the Palazzo Falk, turned into an exhibition center; Croce di Malta Palace (palazzo Croce di Malta); Palace della Banka Popolare (palazzo della Banca Popolare) - a branch of a major Italian bank.
Looking at Lecco from a mountain peak, you can admire another attraction of the city - four bridges. The Adda River, flowing into the dark waters of Como in the north, rushes underwater to the southeastern branch of the lake. In the Lecco area, the calm waters of the lake are becoming swift in order to turn back into a river. Due to the circumstances, ferry crossing was impossible. To simplify the path to Milan, the residents of Lecco built several bridges.
The most respected crossing over Como / Adda is the Visconti bridge (ponte Visconti), built in the 14th century under the supervision of the ruler of Milan, Azzone Visconti (Azzone Visconti). The ancient bridge has an intricate multi-arch construction, but recently it has been in urgent need of restoration. The company is made up of "youth": the Kennedy Bridge, built in 1956, and the Alessandro Manzoni Bridge (1985). The most modern bridge is the railway.
If you are tired of earthly affairs, then feel free to go to heaven, near Lecco there is a funicular station. Cabins dominate travelers to a mark of 1300 meters above sea level to the peak of Piani d'Erna. In the mountains there are entertainment for every taste: skiing, rock climbing, a park with winter attractions and much more!
Finally, we add that one of the Lecco bridges is not without reason bears the name of the famous Italian romantic writer Alessandro Manzoni. Written by the author, the book The Betrothed (I Promessi sposi) takes the reader to the romantic scenery of Lecco of the 19th century.
City of Bellagio
The truly unique geographical location boasts the city of Bellagio (Bellagio). It stands at the point where all three branches of Lake Como meet. A stretch of coast, enclosed between two lake branches, is famous for its extremely rich nature and landscapes, which can be looked at forever. The pearl of Lake Como gives people a mild climate that provides equally comfortable relaxation in the summer and winter.
Even during the heyday of the Roman Empire, the beauty and strategic value of the Bellagio was appreciated. In the 5th century BC, the Romans built defensive fortifications (Latin castellum) at the tip of a wedge-shaped cape, crashing into the waters of Como. Several centuries later, the political figure Pliny the Younger conducted scientific research in a villa in Bellagio.
In the Middle Ages, the city charmed with its beauty many famous writers, poets, composers. Johann Goethe, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini inspirationlessly drew inspiration on the shore of a beautiful lake at the foot of the Alpine mountains.
Villas in Bellagio
Bellagio was favored by the European aristocracy. Many villas and luxurious estates adorn the city streets. One such place is Villa Melzi, equipped with an extensive park. Green hills descend to the gentle whispering waters of Como.
Trees, rounded balls of bushes and a rich collection of flowering plants are harmoniously combined with architectural compositions. Of particular note is the ancient temple, filled with archaeological artifacts and the remains of ancient works of art.
Looks no less impressive Villa Serbellonialso equipped with a well-kept park. Visitors are invited to take an excursion through the wonderful palazzo, which looms favorably against the backdrop of bright greenery and dark mountains. Those wishing to plunge into the world of princesses and luxury are given the opportunity to live in elegant rooms for several days, as for more than a century Villa Serbelloni has been a 5-star hotel.
The hotel has 95 rooms, ranging from 688 to 932 euros. Nevertheless, you will be able to book this hotel in less than 2-3 months, but if you still want to spend at least a night in such a fabulous place, try to make a free reservation for 6-8 months - this will save up to half the cost numbers.
Hotel Villa Serbelloni, run by the third generation of the Bucher family, is located on Cape Bellagio. It offers stunning views of Lake Como and the Alps. It features 2 gardens, indoor and outdoor pools, and a spa with beauty salon.
In 1873, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni was transformed into a luxurious 5-star hotel. The architecture of the building has preserved impressive staircases and ceilings with frescoes. The large Salone Reale Hall is decorated with magnificent Murano glass chandeliers.
Spacious and elegantly decorated, air-conditioned rooms feature wooden satellite furniture, an LCD satellite TV and a minibar. The rooms are decorated in a classic style with unique elements of decor. The floors are covered with soft carpets. Some have lake views.
In 2005, the Mistral restaurant was awarded the Michelin star. Here guests can dine by the pool or in the sophisticated dining room. La Goletta Restaurant serves regional cuisine in an informal atmosphere. A full English breakfast is served daily.
Guests can enjoy wellness and beauty treatments. The hotel has a tennis and squash court and a gym with cardiovascular equipment.
In addition, guests of the city can enjoy plenty of walks along the cobblestone streets of Bellagio, substituting a face for a light afternoon breeze blowing from the lake. The vast promenade with lovely views of the mountains and lake surface is a great place for evening walks. The city is not too overloaded with tourists, so the rest will have a quiet family character.
Lake Como has at its disposal only one islet called Comacina (Isola Comacina). It is located in the southwestern arm of the pond, near the cities of Lenno and Bellagio.
In the past, the island was used as a strategic point necessary to protect the coast.
In the 17th century, Italians used the ruins of an ancient temple to erect a small Catholic church. Since then, the San Giovanni Temple has guarded the island and its inhabitants - the community of artists. Agree the best nature for creating landscapes is simply not to be found!
Next to Lenno is the most recognizable estate in the Como Valley - Villa del Balbianello. A steep mountain hill, picturesquely ennobled by cypresses, pines and ornamental shrubs, rapidly descends to the water itself.
In the midst of this emerald splendor is the villa building. In the XVIII century, the villa was built on the site of a Catholic monastery. It is not surprising that the silhouette of the building harmoniously combines beauty and conciseness. The beauty of Balbianello served as a frame for dramatic shots with the participation of Bond, as well as intergalactic intrigues in Star Wars.
Near the island of Comacina on the banks of Como is Mount Ossuccio, which has received the rank of "saint." The small town of Ossuccio lies at the foot of the holy mountain. Climbing to its heights, travelers will be able to admire the 14 chapel towers, made in the Baroque style.
This architectural ensemble was built in the XVII-XVIII centuries. Each tower is decorated with painted paintings illustrating the path of Jesus Christ to the top of Calvary. This attraction was designed to strengthen the Catholic faith in the souls of the Italian people. In the 90s of the last century, the chapels were taken under the protection of the UNESCO World Fund.
How to choose a hotel
Watch a video with tips on where to stay on Lake Como:
- Explore our holiday experience: 3 days on Como from Milan
There are more than 1000 hotels and apartments with good reviews around Lake Como, as most tourists like the location and it's not easy to choose. To search for your own accommodation option, we recommend using our special filters.
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How to get there
In fact, getting to Como is a very simple task. The pond is only 40 km from Milan. The largest cities in the lake valley are connected to Milan by rail. Travelers can easily get to Lecco or Como.
If railway trains do not go to your destination, then you can use the services of water transport. Motor ships regularly ply the surface of Como, delivering tourists and vacationers to the most remote corners of the lake. To travel around the lake, we recommend renting a car.