A little history
Lake Como is located in Northern Italy in the Lombardy region, approximately 45km from Milan. The lake is also known as Lario and is famous worldwide. During the 19th Century, it was the lake of choice for the romantics with Stendhal describing it as “one of the most beautiful sites in the world”.
The lake region was created at the end of the Ice Age. Lake Como is a natural fjord deeply carved into the slopes of the Pre-Alps of Como and Bergamo, a mountainous area that combines gentle grass mounds, rugged cliffs and dolomite rocks. Lake Como is 410m deep, the deepest of the Italian lakes. Its unusual upside down “Y” shaped form separates the lake into 3 branches. Lake Como is situated 201 metres above sea level with the surrounding mountains plunging into the lake. The steep landscapes are simply magnificent.
An Italy walking holiday to discover the villas and gardens
Lake Como is famous for its sumptuous villas and luxurious gardens that overflow with camelias, cypress tress and orange trees. These villas were built during the Renaissance period by rich Milanese families inspired by the architecture of Tuscan palaces and the Patrician villas of Ancient Rome. Each family wanted their villa to be more beautiful than the neighbouring one and as a result, the lake is now home to a magnificent display of stunning dwellings and botanical gardens.
Not to be missed!
Villa Carlotta - Tremezzo
Villa Balbianello - Lenno
Villa Melzi - Bellagio
Villa Monastero - Varenna
The dolce vita on Lake Como
Due to a pleasant climate and the proximity of Milan, Lake Como has become the ideal holiday destination. The lake is a natural gem, with its villas and gardens and sapphire blue water reflecting the snowy peaks of the Alps making it a world-famous holiday resort. Indeed, the lake has become a choice destination for the rich and famous with George Clooney and his Hollywood pals spotted regularly at the actor’s private lakeside villa. Despite the influx of tourism, the lake has retained an authentic Italian charm: traditional fishing villages, tightly squashed houses and typical restaurants with waterfront terraces. Boats navigate on the lake carrying people from shore to shore.
An ideal playground for a walking holiday in Italy
Lake Como is a great place for a lazy stroll but also a paradise for nature, culture and walking enthusiasts. The numerous hiking trails in the mountains boast fantastic views over the lake. For the thrill seekers, it is possible to paraglide or hang-glide for great bird’s eye views over the lake. For the water sports enthusiasts, the Tivano wind that blows all year round provides the perfect conditions for kite surfing on the lake (ideal surfing spots include Gera Lario, Colico, Domaso).
The best time to visit Lake Como
Lake Como weather boasts a pleasant year-round climate making it a holiday destination any month of the year. In spring, the gardens are in full bloom, an explosion of colour and a symphony of aromas! The snowy peaks of the Alps paint a dramatic backdrop to these stunning gardens. In the summer, it is possible to swim in the lake and enjoy the many small pebble beaches that dot the shore. In the autumn, the colours and landscapes are simply magnificent. In the winter, the weather can be humid. The lake is a calmer, more peaceful place with fewer boats on the water and some villas are closed. The advantage being that there are fewer tourists and you can immerse yourself in the local life.
As is the case everywhere in Italy, you can eat very well on Lake Como. The local speciality is the freshwater fish, prepared with traditional recipes, handed down from one fishing generation to the next. The Missoltini are small fish that are caught in Lake Como and traditionally dried in the sun and stored in barrels. There are infused with laurel and cooked on the grill, served with polenta. Meat lovers will not be disappointed either as the restaurants excel at preparing hearty meat dishes. Cheese is also a firm favourite amongst the locals: Grana Padano and Parmesan produced in the Brescia province, and the Taleggio de Bergame, a softer, creamier cheese. For dessert, you will often find large brioche type sponge cakes with candied fruit.
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