Lake Como: a guide for the traveler
One province, one lake and one city, united by the melodious name of Como, nestled in the north of Lombardy, very close to Switzerland, attracts not only Italians but also many travelers. The mountain scenery and waters of Lake Como, vivid nature and clean air leave no one indifferent. Artists will easily find inspiration here, lovers of classic resort pleasures will enjoy the chic villas and architectural monuments, and hiking and mountain trails will please all those who appreciate unity with nature.
The climate is temperate and stable, and the gentle sun perfectly complements the mild winter and slightly cooler than the coastal summer. Nature itself contributes to the fact that Lake Como is beautiful in any season. But still, going to the north of Lombardy, you should keep in mind that the tourist season here lasts from May to October. If you want to combine a visit to the lake with a beach vacation, then come in the hottest months of July and August. However, for a more detailed exploration of the area will be more comfortable in the spring or fall.
The starting point of this little trip is most convenient to choose Milan. Here, even in the height of the beach season with lower financial costs you can get from Warsaw and Vilnius by flying with low-cost low-cost airlines WizzAir or Ryanair. Next, you can go to Como, choosing a destination of interest. The alpine lake itself has an interesting silhouette in the form of a slingshot or the letter Y, and each of the arms has its own name: Colico (northern arm), Lecco (southeastern arm), Como (southwestern arm). And each of them is different and can surprise you with something special.
A lot depends on where you decide to live and which arm to explore. Lake Como is large, mountainous terrain, attractions and small cozy towns scattered throughout its territory, which means that you have to move around a lot and often. Therefore, a rental car for most travelers will be the best choice. However, even without being able to rent a car, you can see all the most important places. There is a developed transport system: buses, trains and ferries.
The most popular cities are Como and Lecco. Como and Lecco are very easy to reach by train from Milan and have a good infrastructure which makes exploring the lake a breeze.
If you want solitude, peace and quiet, then pay attention to the small picturesque villages around the coast: Menaggio, Belaggio, Varenna or Tremezzo. However, in this case, you must either rent a car or take the ferries to the main sights and tourist routes.
From the airports near Milan, it is easy to get to Como by Trenitalia train. You just need to choose a convenient departure station that fits in time with the route from the airport of arrival. If it will be Milano Centrale, you should use the train to Como S. Giovanni, and in the case of a departure from Milano Nord Cadorna you need the train to Como Nord Lago station. The ticket will cost € 4.80. Also Como (Como Lago or Como S. Giovanni) can be reached by train from Saronno station (ticket €2.90) or Monza station (ticket €3.60) and can be reached from certain airports near Milan.
Como captivates from the first steps: the foothills of the Alps, picturesque views, beautiful nature and the interweaving of narrow streets. You can walk around the old town and the promenade of Como endlessly, always learning something new about its rich history, famous characters and monuments. Piazza del Duomo, with its Palazzo Broletto, the ancient seat of the lords, the chapel and the Duomo di Como cathedral. Stroll along Via Alessandro Volta, once the main street for the nobility. Visit the opulent Villa Olmo in Via Cantoni. The setting is the lake, but the mountains along its shores lure you to their peaks. This desire can be easily satisfied by taking the Funicolare Como – Brunate cable car that connects Como with Brunate. You can go up for €3, and for €5.50 go both ways. Check the official website for up-to-date prices and timetables.
After climbing up and enjoying the views, you can go back to Como. But fans of the viewpoints should stay longer in Brunat. The local sightseeing can be combined with the continuation of the ascent, but on foot.
The route passes by the church of the Madonna di Pompei, Via Roma and Via Pissarottino and leads first to the viewpoint and then to another landmark with its rich history, the Volta lighthouse (Faro Voltiano di Brunate) that offers fantastic views of Lake Como. Admission € 2 for adults and € 1 for children under 18 and groups of 15 or more. Up-to-date opening hours and prices for admission tickets here.
From Milan, Lecco is easy to reach by Trenitalia trains: for €4.80 you are at your destination. If you do not go through Milan, you will need to change trains in Monza station, but it does not affect the travel time and costs.
It would seem that it is the same lake, only the other arm, but how different the landscapes! Many bays and coves alternate with a flatter shore with towering mountains behind. It’s here that Lecco is lost, as if you’ve seen it in an artist’s painting. There are enough sights for lovers of quiet and relaxed pastime, for those who are interested in history and art, and for those who simply want to enjoy nature and all the beauty of Lake Como from above. Lecco is both a city on the lake and a city in the Alps.
Walk through the streets of the city, visit the Romanesque church of St. Nicholas (Parrocchia di San Nicola di Myra Chiesa Ortodossa Russa), buy something at the city market in Piazza XX Settembre and stroll along the waterfront with views of the Visconti, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Manzoni bridges. To complete the experience, there is a beach holiday on the sandy beach of Orsa Maggiore and a series of trekking routes.
One of the routes is the trek to Monte Resegone at an altitude of 1875 meters. You can get to the start of the trail from the center of Lecco by bus number 5, which will take you to the lower station of the Piani d’Erna cable car, which will take you up to the starting point of the trek. A cable car ticket costs € 10 and is purchased both ways at once. Up-to-date fares and schedules for the bus are here, for the cable car here.
The trail is steep in places, but not very difficult. The main thing is to make sure you have comfortable footwear and stick to the map or signs, so that you don’t turn off onto the climbers’ trails. In this case, the ascent will bring the maximum experience of breathtaking nature and stunning panoramic views, buried in the clouds.
Lake Como, between Italy and Switzerland.
We spent a few days on the beautiful Lake Como, although it would take more than a month to get around. But we had time to swim in the ferries, walk through the towns, and go to the mountains. Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy (length 47 km, width up to 4 km), one of the deepest in Europe (up to 410 m). It is found 40 km north of Milan at an altitude of 199 m in a setting of limestone and granite mountains, up to 600 m from the south and 2,400 m from the north. It consists of three arms, about 26 km long.
In antiquity Virgil and Pliny the Younger had villas on the shores of Lake Como, in our time George Cluny, Vladimir Soloviev and others got real estate in the county.
The only island on the lake is Comacina. The Villa Balbianello (1787), located on Cape Lavedo, in Lenno, is widely known. It was there that a fragment for the Hollywood movie “Star Wars” was filmed. The beauty of the lake can be seen in other films: “Ocean’s Twelve”, “Casino Royale”, “A Month by the Lake” and others. On the “holy mountain” of Ossuccio are fifteen Baroque chapels (1635-1710), listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Behind the hill in the center of the frame is the town of Bellagio, located in the heart of the lake at the confluence of three arms.
The embankments of the town look like this.
In bad weather the Alps are not visible at all.
And here is the view from our villa.
From Bellagio you can take a ferry to any point on the lake and admire the mountains and towns surrounding it.
Switzerland is very close, you can feel it.
The locals are very nice, and I’ve never seen ducks that come out of the water and demand food in my life.
One day we hiked one of the mountains. There are a lot of trails for trekking on Como, it was hard to choose. In the end we did not regret it – though it was difficult to go up, and even more so to go down, the view from a height of 1200 meters was gorgeous. The beginning of the route, the mountains and the sky delighted us.
Almost immediately the snow beauties of Switzerland become visible.
The ascent was long and difficult, and we did not take much food with us. Somewhere there was asphalt, somewhere a path in the woods, and all the time upwards. It was much more comfortable to walk with a stick.
We stroked everyone we could on the way up.
And this is the long-awaited top. Not a soul, high altitude coolness and mountain horizon before our eyes. We went up from lake level.
The way down was shorter, but even steeper. We were escorted by the same horses in cozy alpine meadows.
The sunset light was delightful.
These rocks are our trail down. We descended without energy almost by sunset.
Leaving Como to the accompaniment of diminishing mountains and admiring the very clearing from which we took pictures the day before.
A little bit of me with Como
And of course I picked up some unusual pebbles.