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Postcard Views of Lake Como

Amid Italy’s abundance of churches and chapels, mansions and museums, and the marble and bronze sculptures accumulating over the centuries, sometimes you need a break. And when you’re in Milan, the best place to go for a breath of fresh mountain air is Lake Como, a 146 km2 Y-shaped body of water overlooked by the snow-capped Rhaetian Alps. Nestling on the verdant hillsides around the lake shore are a number of appealing towns such as the exquisite Bellagio, atop a hill in the crux of the “Y”, and the town of Como itself, the largest in the region. The lake, also known as Lario, is one of the prettiest places in all of Lombardy. The glacial, pre-alpine lake, as much as 400 meters deep, is ringed by mountains up to 2,700 metres tall, where you get magnificent views of the lake below. The area is rich in history and tradition, and is a favourite spot for recreation and relaxation. Splendid 17th C. lakeshore villas, many with lush gardens, abound, as do rural Romanesque churches.

If you have time on the way to the lake or back to Milan, a journey taking about an hour by car, you should explore the green landscapes of the Brianza zone, dotted with villages and castles on the banks of the Adda and Lambro rivers.

A Trip on the Lake

There are numerous options for moving around on the lake. We recommend crossing it by ferry or hydrofoils. The Navigazione Lago di Como company operates services all year round from the dock on the northern extreme of the Piazza Cavour. You can also choose a Venetian-style vaporetto to get around the lake, stopping at the several charming towns on the shore, such as Cernobbio, Tremezzo, Cadenabia, and Menaggio. Visit a café for capuccino and a brioche, or a restaurant for a plate of good fresh pasta for lunch –served at midday in Italy– while drinking in the natural grandeur of the lake and surrounding landscape.

A Stroll through Como

There’s plenty to see in the elegant and prosperous town of Como, with a population of some 90,000. City walls built in the 12th C. still stand around the old quarter. For several centuries the city’s main industry has been the weaving of silk items, and you can buy silk scarves and neckties at discount prices. Blankets of flowers in the spring and summer make the lakeshore town even more picturesque. The tourist office will help you plan a walking or cycling tour of Como, which is sure to include the Duomo, with its magnificent marble front. Inside it you’ll find architectural elements and decoration in Baroque, Romanesque, and Renaissance styles. A few hundred metres south of the city walls, behind the Viale Innocenzo XI, is the beautifully preserved 11th C. Romanesque Basilica di Sant’Abbondio, with 14th C. frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Another must-see is the 6th C. Basilica di San Fedele, with three naves and three apses, a lovely 16th C. rose window, and frescoes.

A Place to Eat

Much to be recommended is the Ristorante Sociale, next to the city’s theatre. A favourite with locals as well as visitors, its exposed brick walls are adorned with allegorical frescoes you can admire while dining, along with the curious baroque fireplace. A dish you should sample is the excellentrisottowith chicory. The average cost per person is 25-30 euros.

Come to Como! Check out our fares to Milan here!

Text:  Isabel y Luis Comunicación

Photos: Italia Agenzia Nazionale del Turismo

 

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