With its stunningly beautiful mountain geography, spectacular coast and lovely stone-clad villages, Lake Como is one of the most famous Italian Lakes destinations, 30 miles north of Milan.
Shaped like an inverted Y, Lake Como is surrounded by roaming mountains and lush, towering hills dotted with historic grande dame hotels, Baroque villas and picturesque hillside towns offering awe-inspiring panoramic views. Festooned with azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons, Lake Como looks more photogenic than ever in spring and summer.
The nature enthusiasts will definitely enjoy its unique landscapes. A place of glorious sunshine and gentle pleasures, Lake Como, Lago di Como in Italian, has been a popular retreat for wealthy people since Roman times, and many celebrities and A-listers own or have owned villas on its shores, such as George Clooney, Madonna, Richard Branson, Sylvester Stallone, Gianni Versace, Matt Bellamy and Ronaldinho, just to mention a few.
From Roman emperors and aristocrats to Hollywood stars, everyone loves Lake Como. The stunning beauty of this picturesque setting continues to draw in the rich and famous. With its verdant cypress shores, Italy’s Lake Como is the movie-set idea of a luxury resort. This is the place to relax and enjoy la dolce vita. Life is slower around here than in mega-paced Milan.
The adorable little villages that hug the shore, the mountainous hinterland and the Baroque villas in their lush, green, impeccably manicured gardens sprinkled around the coast make Lake Como a pretty magnificent location.
Villa Oleandra, George Clooney’s 22-room summer home, located in the town of Laglio, on Lake Como’s south-western shores, is a wonderful example of 18th-century lakeside villa, offering breathtaking views from its windows.
Similar opulent lakeside villas and grand houses on the shores of Lake Como are up for sale or available for rent, and many have been converted into exclusive wedding venues and luxury grand hotels.
Where to stay on Lake Como
Autumn and spring are the best times to visit this area, since the weather is pleasant, the days are long and the lake is way less crowded than in summer.
Known as the pearl of the lake, (the original) Bellagio sits on the promontory where the branches of the lake come together, surrounded on three sides by water. Fringed by cypresses, Bellagio has a shady lakefront promenade lined with glitzy hotels, chic cafes and gourmet restaurants that serve just-pulled-from-the-lake fish and regional specialties.
Picturesque medieval alleyways lined with shops selling hand-tooled leather accessories ascend from the lake in steep steps. Famed for its elegance, the sumptuous Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas is inspired by the Lake Como town of Bellagio.
Lake Como is a giant upside-down Y, with Como at the foot of the western arm. The walled town of Como, regarded as the silk capital of the world, has a charming pedestrian-friendly historic center, a pretty waterfront and lively squares with modish restaurants and nice open-air cafés. Built around its flamboyant Duomo, Como is a bustling city, with a cosmopolitan feel. From Como you can take a 10-minute funicular ride up to hilltop Brunate, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Alps.
On the eastern shores of the lake, adorable Varenna competes with Bellagio to win the title of prettiest and most picturesque hamlet on Lake Como, with sumptuous villas clustered around the shoreline, colorful houses in a maze of cobbled alleys and a winding lakeside path hanging over the glittering water, with cafés, fine restaurants and art galleries looking over the lake.
Popular with outdoorsy types for hiking, swimming, windsurfing and rock climbing, Menaggio, 22 miles north of Como, is a charming resort with an attractive center and a lovely lakeside promenade, with stunning views across the water to Varenna and Bellagio.