Lake Como – an Italian Classic

A treasure-trove of landscapes, architecture and lakeside villages of centennial enchantment

An expanse of blue water, rippled by the caress of a soft breeze from the Alps. A cruise over the whole distance of Lake Como takes just five hours in a steamboat that slowly zigzags along its forested banks. Como, Cernobbio, Tremezzo and Bellagio are just some of the dreamy towns on the shores of Lake Como, forever popular amongst international visitors, and testaments to the long history and legacy of the region. They provide an interesting introduction to the finest points of Italian lifestyle…

The beauty and mild climate of Lake Como has always inspired the nobility and the wealthy to built stunning villas with beautiful gardens since Roman times. There are also many charming medieval villages nestled on the shores.

Como is the most important city on the lake. It has 85 thousand inhabitants and borders to the Swiss town of Chiasso. It houses an international preschool and an international elementary school. Como-Milan is about 28 miles (45 km).

Stendhal, Liszt and Caroline of Brunswick
Some of the most famous villas are Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo, built in 1690, Villa d’Este at Cernobbio, built in 1568 and Villa Melzi at Bellagio, built in 1808. Many famous people stayed in these villas, like Stendhal, Franz Liszt and Caroline of Brunswick. Villa d’Este has been turned into a luxury hotel.

Lake Como still attracts international celebrities. Since hollywood star George Clooney bought a 25-room villa in the village of Laglio, prices went up quickly. Also Sting and Richard Branson are residing on the lake and Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Richard Gere and Michael Schumacher have all been spotted.

Film scenery
Film makers are attracted by the lake as well. Casino Royale, Ocean’s Twelve and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones were (partially) shot there.

Silk City
Como has always had a dual identity, an industrial town on one hand, and a unique tourist destination on the other, with its superb natural setting. Even though it is the principal city on the lake, it is still the enchanting location that it was centuries ago when it was discovered and conquered by the Ancient Romans. From that time on, visitors have continued to arrive here, attracted by the landscapes, the pleasant climate, its manufacturing specialities, and its connections to Italian literature – principally the book “I Promessi Sposi” by Alessandro Manzoni.

The city has long been famous for silk manufacture. There is a college dedicated to silk, with an annexed museum, Museo Didattico della Seta.

Scenes from Times Past

Bellagio offers visitors a picturesque setting, with some first class hotels and restaurants. The village dates back to Roman times, but it was the 19th century that saw its real boom as a tourist destination. During that time, many villas and gardens were constructed for the wealthy to host their distinguished guests, and as a place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

One of the most famous villas is Villa Serbelloni, surrounded by an immense park which includes 18 kilometres of paths, meandering amongst the rare and exotic plants that grow in the gardens and terraces sloping down towards the lake.

Another fine lakeside jewel is Villa Melzi d’Eril, which was built in 1808 for Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril, dignitary in the Napoleonic administration. The Villa is in Neoclassical style, and it is surrounded by a lovely park that was the first landscaped garden in Como. The Villa’s owner, Count Gallarati Scotti, is a descendant of the Melzi family.

Meals fit for a King

Taste the best Italian cooking has to offer at one of Lake Como’s most historic palaces. Villa D’Este is a Renaissance building, location of a superb hotel and Bistrot. The restaurant stocks over 500 of the most prestigious wines from Italy and abroad. The Terrace Bar offers a relaxing setting where guests sit under majestic chestnut trees with an aroma of jasmine floating through the air. The Italian aperitif ritual takes on a totally different dimension here, with a stunning view of Lake Como in all its splendour.

The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni was listed as of one of the Top 100 Hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveller. It offers its guests a getaway unlike any other. It houses two restaurants directed by an Italian expert specializing in molecular cuisine. Terrazza Serbelloni, as the name suggests, has an elegant terrace running alongside the lake, while Mistral provides a more informal dining experience by the pool.