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Bellagio Lake Como
Romantic Bellagio on Lake Como

The place is Lake Como, located at the foot of the picturesque Swiss Alps. The view over the picturesque lake is so captivating and poetic that it relaxes you completely; perhaps that's why it has become such a popular holiday destination, not just in this century, but through the ages. Along the shores of the lake lie the most fabulous villages, and while visiting this area, I just wanted to make sure you wouldn't miss them. 

The main ones and of course the best known are the places Varenna, Bellagio, Como, Tremezzo, and Brunate; I will describe them one by one. 

La bella Varenna on the lake


Let's start with Varenna, a rather tranquil spot, especially compared to some other villages along lake Como that are much more touristy. It has a colorful shoreline with pebble beaches, and on a Sunday afternoon, you'll see quite a few people strolling along the passerella or heading towards the little castle, Castello di Vezio. You can walk around the castle and its ruins. Apparently, it is now used by a local falconer who trains his birds of prey here. The tower houses a somewhat eccentric permanent exhibition dedicated to the Lariosaurus, an extinct reptile from the Middle Triassic period.

Castello di Vezio, Via del Castellano, 23828 Perledo LC - http://www.castellodivezio.it/

Bellagio, the pearl of Lake Como

Bellagio  - Hotel Metropol

After the city of Como, undoubtedly the most famous place on the lake. The best way to get to Bellagio is by taking a boat from Varenna, especially because from the lake the view of the magnificent villas is much better than walking along the shore. Bellagio is what you call stylish; it's full of wine bars and chic boutiques. By contrast, the footpaths and streets are spotlessly clean, and there's not a pothole to be found on the roads. If you haven't lost too much time relaxing with an aperitivo or a glass of wine at 'Aperitivo et Al,' I recommend taking a short walk to the only 'official' attraction in Bellagio: the gardens of Villa Melzi. They are open from late March to October 31 and are just unbelievably beautiful.

I Giardini di Villa Melzi, Via Lungo Lario Manzoni, 22021 Bellagio CO - https://giardinidivillamelzi.it/
Aperitivo Et Al, Salita Serbelloni, 34, 22021 Bellagio CO - http://www.aperitivobellagio.com/

The southern city of Como

Paleizen in Como

Compared to the other places, Como is more urban, similar to other medium-sized towns of provincial capitals. Como itself is a lively place, with its vibrant wide boulevard along the shore being a major attraction. The place boasts a long list of conference hotels and has a lively rush hour. The Como Cathedral is hardly a genuine attraction, but it is mentioned in all travel guides; it is beautiful but not worth a detour. The "silk museum" is more interesting, and is located just outside the center.

Como has a nostalgic appeal to me, as it is the first sizeable Italian place across the border with Switzerland. After a long drive, it's a place where you could take an early morning break, or let the kids or dog stretch their legs in the park. Como also has a busy tourist port, with ferry services across the lake Como; most of them depart from Como.

Como has two train stations; from San Giovanni, you can take a regional train directly to Milan in about an one and a half hour. From Como Borghi (closer to the lake), you can reach Milan Cador in an hour. From the small station, you can also take the local train to the villages on the eastern side of the lake, especially Cernobbio, Argegno, Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Gravedona.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta - Duomo di Como, Piazza del Duomo, 22100 Como CO - https://www.cattedraledicomo.it/
Museo della Seta di Como, Via Castelnuovo, 9, 22100 Como CO - http://www.museosetacomo.com/

Tremezzo or Tremizzina on the western shore of Lake Como


Tremezzina is located on the western shore of Lake Como, offering a magnificent view of Bellagio and the impressive gardens of Villa Melzi d’Eril. The name Tremezzina is derived from the fusion of four municipalities: Lenno, Mezzegra, Ossuccio, and Tremezzo. Tremezzo is for many visitors a delight of the senses: so many flowers, plants, romantic gardens, and idyllic villas; it is an enchanting environment. Tremezzo also has some interesting sights you may want to consider visiting; first and foremost, the botanical garden of Villa Carlotta, the most famous villa on Lake Como. The villa has several neoclassical elements and is surrounded by large gardens right on the shore, you can easily spend a day there.

Villa Carlotta, Via Regina, 2, 22016 Tremezzina CO - https://www.villacarlotta.it/it/

A few kilometers down the road, you could also visit Villa Balbianello (Lenno) or climb to the Romanesque abbey of Val Perlana at 700 m. From Tremezzo, you can take a boat to the only island in Lake Como: Isola Comacina, which is nearly uninhabited and welcomes visitors from March to the end of October. If you're up for a challenging hike, the Monte Crocione might be a good choice; it takes about 7-8 hours, but you'll be rewarded with an unparalleled and phenomenal view of the Alps.

Villa Balbianello, Via Guido Delmati, 22016 Monzino CO - https://www.fondoambiente.it/luoghi/villa-del-balbianello?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=balbianello
Monastero di San Benedetto in Val Perlana, 22010 Ossuccio Province of Como - https://sanbenedettoinvalperlana.it/

Brunate high in the hills with a fabulous view of Lake Como


Brunate is not located directly on the lake; it sits above it and embodies exactly what you would imagine of a typical Italian village. It's worth visiting for the endless views it offers of Lake Como. Brunate can be reached by taking the cable car from Como, which is a fun experience, especially with children.

Funicolare Como-Brunate (stazione a valle), Piazza Alcide de Gasperi, 4, 22100 Como CO - http://www.funicolarecomo.it/ 

Attention, nature lovers! The Greenway of Lake Como is a pleasant 10 km walk starting from Colonno and ending in Cadenabbia. The route winds through and above the villages scattered along the lake, taking you past all the famous villas, gardens, and even some Roman ruins.

Greenway del Lago di Como, Via Luigi Civetta, 22010 Colonno CO - https://greenwaylagodicomo.com/
Lake Como

Hotel tips on Lake Como

Nice places to eat or spend some time taking in the aperitivo scene

La vita e bella in Como! (Reservations Tel. 031 302667)
An excellent place….friendly service, a delicious menu, and a wide choice of salads!….reservations are a must!

La Vita è Bella Ristorante - Insalateria, Piazza Domenico Croggi, 4, 22100 Como CO - https://www.lavitaebellacomo.it/

Vapore and Belverdere in Torno: These two are owned by the same people, everything on the menu is superb, the staff is fantastic, and the view of Lake Como is breathtaking. Reservations are advisable! (Reservations Tel. 031 419311)

Albergo Ristorante Vapore, Via Plinio, 20, 22020 Torno CO - http://www.hotelvapore.it/
Hotel Ristorante il Belvedere, Piazza Casartelli, 3, 22020 Torno CO - https://hotelilbelvedere.com/contatti/

Aurora in Lezzeno: Delicious food, friendly staff, and a beautiful view. Reservations are recommended! (Reservations Tel. 031 914645)

Ristorante Aurora Lezzeno, Località Sossana, 2, 22025 Lezzeno CO - https://www.hotelauroralezzeno.com/

Editor's Picks

  • Ristorante Aqua Dolce Via Regina, 26, 22010 Carate Urio, Como €€€ 031 400260
  • I Tigli in Theoria, Via Bianchi Giovini in Como, 41. €€€€ Tel. 031 305272
  • The Marketplace Via Gerolamo Borsieri, 21, 22100 Como, €€ Tel. 031 270712
  • Ristorante Navedano in Via Giuseppe Velzi, 4, 22100 Como €€€€ Tel. 031 308080
  • Ristorante Il Portico, Via A. Volta, 1, 22070 Appiano Gentile €€€ Tel. 031 931982
  • La Locanda del Notaio, Via Pian delle Noci, 22, 22020 Pellio Intelvi (Bellagio) €€€€ Tel. 031 842 7016
  • Ristorante La Rimessa, Via Cardinal Ferrari, 13/b, 22066 Mariano Comense €€€ Tel. 031 749668
  • Ristorante Mistral van Villa Serbelloni, Via Roma, 1, 22021 Bellagio €€€€€ Tel. 031 956426
  • Ristorante Castello in Via Castello, 26/28, 220 72 Cermenate €€€ Tel. 031 771563

Photo credits: Julie Maudlin