Lake Como is famous all over the world for the deep blue of its waters and the lush green of the surrounding hills. It is an area with a mild climate, ideal for spending more or less long periods of holiday, a few steps from Milan. The natural and artistic beauties, the historical villages, the churches and abbeys, the spectacular villas and gardens that have sprung up along its banks, make it a magical and romantic place.
Como is the city of light, of silk factories and cafes under the porticoes, always looking towards the lake.
The city is fortified and a part of the walls and gates can still be seen today; inside them there is the historical centre, of medieval layout, with cobbled streets and magnificent squares. The lakeside promenade is very elegant with several eighteenth-century villas. Como is also famous for being the birthplace of Alessandro Volta and paid homage to him in various parts of the city.
Among them we find the Voltiano Temple opened in 1928 on the occasion of the centenary of Volta’s death: it was built to house the relics of the great scientist and inside you can find a permanent exhibition dedicated to his great scientific work: scientific equipment and instruments, as well as a sample of the famous stack.
If you look at the Voltiano Temple and continue westwards along the lake you will come across some of the most beautiful villas in the city: Villa Saporiti (called La Rotonda), built in the 18th century and once home to Napoleon and Prince Ferdinand I of Austria. Shortly after there is Villa Mondolfo, built on the remains of an ancient convent and renovated several times. Continuing on, you come to Villa Gallia, built as a summer residence in 1615 by Abbot Marco Gallio.
After Villa Gallia you will see the gates of the most imposing neoclassical villa in Como, Villa Olmo. Built at the behest of Innocenzo Odescalchi at the end of the 18th century, it has beautiful interiors, very refined and elegant: don’t miss the magnificent Italian gardens that surround the villa.
Absolutely not to be missed is the Duomo and its beautiful square dominated by the Broletto, the old town hall, built in 1215 at the behest of the podestà, with a magnificent gothic facade of polychrome marble bands. In the same square, in addition to the Duomo, there is also the neoclassical Teatro Sociale.
Returning to Piazza Cavour and walking along the lakeside promenade to the east, you will see a funny wooden building: it is the base of the Como-Brunate funicular railway, inaugurated back in 1894. For more than 100 years this funicular has connected Como with the village of Brunate.
The village of Brunate was born as a holiday resort of the rich people of Como (and not only) in the nineteenth century and is famous not only for the panorama, but also for the many beautiful Art Nouveau villas.
Immediately after the arrival of the funicular you will find one of the many panoramic viewpoints that have earned it the name “Balcony on the Alps“: from here you can see the entire western Alps, the Po Valley and the Apennines. Walking uphill for half an hour you will reach the Voltiano Lighthouse, a building overlooking the lake built for the centenary of Volta’s death.
A very short distance from Como, we meet Cernobbio, a small jewel set between the western shore of the Lario and the panoramic Monte Bisbino, among historical villas, breathtaking views and ancient traditions, often celebrated by
artists, writers and poets.
Cernobbio, which over the years has become half of a particularly refined tourism, is also an ideal starting point for boat trips on the lake visiting all the other beautiful places overlooking the lake.
Villa d’Este, is famous and known for centuries: a splendid Renaissance patrician residence, one of the most luxurious residences in Europe. The structure, today a luxury hotel for the wealthiest clientele, was built between 1565 and 1570, designed by the architect Pellegrino Tibaldi, as a summer residence for the Cardinal of Como, Tolomeo Gallio.
The Cittadella della seta is an industrial textile archaeology site unique in the Como area, characterised by the buildings that housed the houses inhabited by the workers of the Bernasconi weaving mill; by the premises of the then management and the from the industrial site with its chimney. Cernobbio and the whole area of Como, boasts an important tradition linked to the to the silk industry.
Bellagio is an enchanting village famous for its truly exclusive geographical position: in fact, it is located at the northern end of the Larian Triangle, right where the two branches of Lake Como branch off.
The best way to see it is from the boat: from here you can enjoy a unique view, when the village appears with its colourful houses set on the mountain.
The best time to visit Bellagio is in early spring or autumn, even better in the late afternoon. In this way you can enjoy one of the beautiful sunsets on Lake Como and a walk through the alleys of the village at night.
Among the most fascinating aspects are undoubtedly its enchanting villas, famous for their magnificence and well-kept gardens.
Among these we find Villa Serbelloni: a splendid seventeenth-century villa built on the ruins of a previous castle that was destroyed. It is accessible from the outside, characterized by enchanting and well-kept gardens, where it is possible to admire all kinds of plants walking peacefully in the labyrinth of its small paths.
Another beautiful villa on the territory of the municipality of Bellagio is Villa Melzi, situated on the western shore of Lake Como: currently inhabited, it can be visited only in some parts.
The immense green area of Villa Melzi houses finds of great artistic and historical value, such as the Egyptian statues that adorn the garden or the ancient urns of Etruscan origin. The outdoor garden even houses a Venetian gondola, which arrived here in Bellagio at Napoleon’s behest, and an enchanting neoclassical chapel. The whole park is dotted with statues, busts and works from different periods, which blend into the gardens and plants in an atmosphere of pure enchantment.
Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo is an enchanting place, in a panoramic position on the shore of Lake Como, in front of a breathtaking scenery on the Grigne and the village of Bellagio. It is famous for the art collections preserved inside but above all for the magnificent Italian botanical park of 70,000 square meters, which boasts an amazing spring flowering of rhododendrons and azaleas in over 150 varieties.
It was built at the end of the 1600s by Marquis Giorgio Clerici, but its greatest splendour came when Gian Battista Sommariva enriched it with works of art, making it a must-see destination for a visit to Lake Como. Sommariva, who acquired the property in the early nineteenth century, wanted part of the garden to be transformed into an extraordinary romantic park and the villa to be embellished with masterpieces by Canova, Thorvaldsen and Hayez.