A landscape as surprising as it is fascinating, with a thousand details. With its green and turquoise waters, textured rock faces, forests, rock-hewn villages wedged between shorelines and mountains and towns rich in history and culture, Lake Como (also known as Lario) is a place of remarkable diversity. The lake is the third-largest body of water in northern Italy with three arms that form an inverted Y. It has an ideal location in the heart of the Alps, which has always made it a special favorite among tourists from the north who relish this little piece of the Mediterranean ringed by mountains. For visitors arriving from bustling urban hubs, the lake represents a peaceful oasis.
Its two main cities are Lecco and Como, both of which lie along the lower part of the lake. Como is a renowned, historic city: its strategic importance in the past made it a rival of Milan. The old town center invites tourists to admire gorgeous XIX century palaces juxtaposed with superb churches and ramparts dating to the Middle Ages, not to mention vestiges of Gothic and Romanesque art. Don’t miss the promenade, the monuments dedicated to celebrated local Alessandro Volta, the sumptuous mansions and the lively piazzas. Lecco is a dynamic, modern city with many facets: Barbarian origins, Austrian and Spanish rules, Milanese influence and an industrial spirit. Unlike Como, Lecco does not have many noteworthy architectural and historical monuments; its charm lies in its lakeside promenade, panoramas and irresistible energy. Visitors should check out the sites that inspired writer Alessandro Manzoni for his novel I Promessi sposi.
Today Lake Como is home to many international celebrities who appreciate the beauty of the lake and the allure of the surrounding towns. Lake Como is about 50 kilometers from Milan in the provinces of Como and Lecco. It is Italy’s third-largest lake by size, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, as well as its deepest (410 meters). The lake, which is among the most important in Lombardy, is shaped like an inverted Y and splits into three main arms:Como in the southwest, Lecco in the southeast and Colico in the north. It offers exceptionally beautiful views of the villages, magnificent villas and lush gardens that greet visitors with promises of relaxing, culture-soaked holidays in an unblemished natural setting.
Como serves up many opportunities for outdoor sports. The lake is an ideal destination for a vacation devoted to fun and fitness. In summer, water sports enthusiasts are beset with an embarrassment of riches: sailing, rowing, windsurfing, motor boating, waterskiing, canoeing and kitesurfing. Sports like hang gliding, paragliding and gliding give vacationers a chance to contemplate the extraordinary views of the lake from a singular perspective. As for mountain lovers, they can spend their time climbing, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding. Golf is also a top activity, if one is to judge by the seven world-famous courses flung over the verdant landscape. In winter, the Piani di Bobbio and Pian delle Betulle winter resorts boast kilometers of perfectly groomed paths and an abundance of cross-country and downhill ski trails, plus snowshoe outings.
Connoisseurs of fine cuisine will enjoy exploring authentic local flavors and products, such as risotto with perch fillets, olive oil, vegetables (do not miss the wonderful Rogaro and Drezzo asparagus varieties) and, of course, the many fish dishes, including misottini (alosa agone fish dried, pressed and marinated in oil and vinegar).
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni*****
Spend an evening immersed in the magical atmosphere at the hotel restaurant the Mistral. Its prime spot on the terrace commands magnificent view of the lake. Savor the delicacies prepared by Michelin-starred chef Ettore Bocchia as you enjoy a breathtaking view and live music in the background.
Via Roma 1, Bellagio
Grand Hotel Tremenzzo*****
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is one of the oldest and most beautiful luxury hotels on Lake Como. This authentic Art Nouveau palazzo is a five-star hotel that will rekindle your love for resort living and the pleasures of warm hospitality with a smile.
Via Regina, 8 – 22016, Tremezzina
The splendor and magic of Villa d’Este bewitch you as soon as you enter this exclusive hotel overlooking Lake Como. From the charm of its beautiful gardens to its exquisite food and its unique sense of hospitality, Villa d’Este is a must in the world of luxurious Italian holidays.
Via Regina 40, Cernobbio
Check out our article on Hotel Villa d’Este if you want to learn more on this splendid hotel!