Lake Como is one of the most magnificently beautiful places on Earth. Famed for its lake views and cool mountain air, the waterside has been a holiday spot since Roman times and a favourite of European royalty. The rich and famous still love it, but Lake Como is accessible for all and is a decadent, dreamy holiday for everyone who goes. Its villages have the best of Italy - traditional culture and food, natural beauty, picturesque streets and grand villas on the water.
Finding Villas and Accommodation in Lake Como
George Clooney may own a villa here (in Laglio), but you don’t have to be a Hollywood star to have a taste of Lake Como! The lake is home to plenty of accommodation to meet any budget, from tasteful villas to self-catering apartments and studios. Holiday rentals are a good option for having a truly Italian experience - your villa or apartment will be alongside those of the locals, and you’ll shop among them at the markets for regional produce. The most popular places for accommodation are Como, Bellagio and Menaggio as they have plenty of shopping and food options, great views and transport connections.
Explore Lake Como
Como is the main town of the lake and the usual entry point. It’s a good spot to base your accommodation, and there is plenty to do in the town itself. It is home to some beautiful churches and museums, including the Silk Museum of Como, which commemorates the citys history of Italian silk production. Como is also where you will find the Villa Olmo, a huge neoclassical villa now dedicated to international art exhibitions. Tremezzo is home to the Villa Carlotta, a decadent palace built for a Milanese Marquis in the 18th century and home to several other Italian and German royals over the next century. It was named for one of them, Princess Charlotte of Prussia. The villa is a now a museum to house and show the exquisite art collection of the previous owners, including the famed Italian Romantic painting The Last Farewell of Romeo and Juliet by Francesco Hayez. The colourful, exquisitely designed garden of the villa is arguably one of the most beautiful of Europe and well worth a visit too. For the curious tourist, the site Benito Mussolini’s assassination can be found in the village of Giulino di Mezzegra, a half hours drive from Tremezzo. He and his mistress were trying to escape to Switzerland in 1945 when they were captured at Dongo on the shores of Lake Como before being brought to Giulino di Mezzegra, where they were shot. A small cross marks the site. Menaggio is a short drive from Tremezzo, and dates from Roman times. It’s a good place to base your accommodation, and you can book a cruise or hire a boat at the waterside to explore the lake. From Menaggio you can also do a day walk up to the peak of the Monte Grona, and have a meal at the rifugio (refuge) near the top. It’s a big walk, and to make it to the top you will need to be fit. As you walk up the craggy path, you’ll get an incredible view of the lake and snow peaked mountains of Italy and Switzerland, and possibly pass some mountain goats too. The Greenway Walk from Colonno is less strenuous but just as beautiful. The family friendly 10.5km track winds through a frequently changing landscape, and there is plenty to see. The walk can also be broken up into several smaller walks if you prefer as it passes through several villages. Bellagio is very beautiful but also very busy and one of the most expensive towns on the lake. However, quality holiday rentals for a reasonable price can be found, so it’s worth having a look. If your accommodation is elsewhere, Bellagio is a worth a day trip, with gorgeous old streets and a lovely waterfront. Apparently the best gelato can also be found here, at the Gelateria del Borgo further up the winding laneways of the town.
Getting Around Lake Como
It’s easiest to access the town of Como by train from Milan or Bergamo, and buses frequently run from there to Menaggio and other larger towns. Menaggio is also easily accessed from Lugano in Switzerland, via the Spluegen Pass. Once on the Lake, travel to other villages by boat for a 360 degree view of the mountains along the way. Ferries and cruises depart from most towns and will take you all around the lake. Or do as the Italians do and hire a stylish scooter to zoom around the streets on!