The first time I visited Lake Como, we stayed in Bellagio. Most people do stay in Bellagio on their first visit. It’s a very quaint but the town with the most tourists! And of course it is touristy town if it’s the popular stop to first time Lake Como visitors. After over a decade of year trips, my unyielding obsession is Lake Como, I have since explored above and beyond Bellagio and much to my surprise, each town is more magical than the next! I love to climb high above the Lake, you can drive up 20 km then hike to the highest point on foot. The view is amazing. The towns of Torno, Blevio and Carate Urio are new discoveries and beautiful.
Lake Como, the 56-square-mile, Y-shaped jewel in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, has been a summer destination since ancient Roman times, luring nobles, church leaders, politicians, and, lately, celebrities of every stripe. In the 16th century, a cardinal named Tolomeo Gallio built on its shores an opulent residence, Villa d’Este, which is now one of Europe’s most glamorous hotels. Winston Churchill found respite in the area at the end of World War II. “An air of complete tranquillity and good humour pervades these beautiful lakes and valleys, which are unravaged by war,” he wrote to his wife, Clementine, in September 1945.
Visitors today might spot George Clooney (he owns a waterside villa) or any number of the other movie stars who vacation here regularly. George Clooney is responsible for drawing attention to the Lake, otherwise this paradise would have been absent from my life. In a recent interview, George, shares, “the lake keeps calling me back.” I agree, a silent whisper in your heart and soul…constantly letting you know, it’s there waiting for you!
From a hired water taxi or private boat (the best way to see Como, in my opinion), you can take in the natural scenery, stop to visit churches and tour grand villas, and have lunch in one of the lake’s charming small towns. Traveling by boat offers a unique perspective of the local architecture, so much of which was built to offer views of””and be viewed from””the lake.
A few must dos:
The furnicular in Lake Como will provide you with a scenic view of the Lake and can be accessed easily by the main road that goes around the Lake.
Some of the large Villas can be viewed, many with magical gardens set in old majestic Villas most directly on the lake.
Villa Carlotta is another Villa that you can tour near the town of Tremezzo.
Villa Balbianello is a must see when you are in Lake Como, you can arrive by a walk of about 1.5 KM or directly by water taxi to the foot of the stairs that takes you to paradise.
Villa Melzi is another beautiful and popular Villa deep in history and long strolls through gardens of azaleas, wysteria and fragrant florals in the spring, summer and autumn.
Shopping in Bellagio, dinner at Baia Belvedere and a hike above the Lake!
A wonderful video with music by Armand Amar is to be enjoyed with a glass of wine and viewed in its entirely (another must). The magic of Lake Como is further accentuated by the music, which speaks to your heart and soul.