52 miles to the north of Milan, surrounded by charming little towns with gorgeous villas amidst the picturesque Rhaetian Alps in Lombardy, is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe – Lago di Como. The ethereal Alps provide a stunning backdrop to the placid, marine-blue waters of Lake Como. With lush Mediterranean gardens and magnificent views, it is easy to see why it is reputed to be one of the most romantic getaways in Italy.
The main town of Como at the southern end of the west leg of the lake makes a great base for exploring the area. Como’s main and most posh street, Via Vittorio Emanuele, runs through the medieval quarter, with narrow streets and wood-beamed houses. The Duomo, better known as the “Renaissance Cathedral”, is located in the town center of Como. Nearby are the Broletto, 13th century town council, the Teatro Sociale designed by Cusi, and the Casa del Fascio (The Fascist Party House). Just 2 blocks south of the Duomo is the Piazza San Fedele with its famous 12th-century Basilica. About a km to the southwest along Viale Roosevelt stands the Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, a Romanesque masterpiece from the 11th century.
There are numerous things to do in the sprawling area around the lake. The serene lake is a gorgeous setting to just sit back and relax. There’s sailing and water-skiing in the lake, and hiking, mountain-biking, and horse-riding nearby. Around the lakeside, there is the Piazza Cavour and the adjoining Giardini Publici, where the Tempio Voltiano houses memorabilia on the life and experiments of physicist Alessandro Volta, a native. There are several monuments as well in the area.
Mountain excursion day trips offer mind-blowing views of the lake and surrounding areas. For a quick retreat and some stunning views, take the funicular for a ride up to the top of Brunate and walk to the Volta lighthouse.
Ferry services from the lake run to local monuments and exquisite villas, as well as to lovely lakeside towns, such as Tremezzo, Varenna and Bellagio. With impressive works of art and traditional Italian landscaped gardens, the 17th century neo-classical Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo has to be on your itinerary.
Varenna has the charming Villa Cipressi and the Villa Monastero, with a fascinating terraced botanical garden. You could walk around the narrow, cobblestone streets lined with old shops, restaurants and churches in Bellagio, a quaint town with an old-world charm.
The entire area is an epicure’s delight, with regional produce like olive oil, wine, and cheese in the numerous lakeside shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Come to Lake Como for the spectacular views, the tranquility, the elegant Italian setting. Take a leisurely cruise. With its unspoiled beauty and charm, it is a dreamy, idyllic destination for travelers in search of peace and quiet.