Lake Como in Italy, detailed information

Lake Como

Lake Como is located in the northern part of Italy, in the region of Lombardy. It is second in size to the neighbouring Garda and Lake Maggiore but is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. The narrow, meridian-lengthening lake in the south is divided into two arms. Italians, who love figurative comparisons, think it looks like a vigorously paced man with legs in the towns of Como and Lecco and a nose in Domaso.

The shores of Como have been a favorite vacation spot for aristocrats since Roman times. Today’s Italian and foreign celebrities like George Clooney, who bought a villa here, continued this pleasant tradition. For mere mortals, Lake Como also has something to offer: water sports and ballooning, walks in the landscaped gardens, budget excursions around Como and the coastal towns by boat.

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Video: Lake Como

Geography of Como.

The Alps protect the shores of Como, which appeared in time immemorial as glaciers melted, from cold winds from the north, so the climate here is milder than in other parts of Lombardy. The bottom of the lake is 200 meters below sea level, the maximum depth of the reservoir reaches 400 meters. In the north, near the town of Colico, the alpine river Adda flows into Lago di Como, with mountain streams along its perimeter. Around the middle, near Bellagio, the lake splits into two arms. The length of Como is more than 45 km, the width varies from 4.2 to 0.65 km. The gentle southerly breeze “breva” and the night “tivano” which blow during the whole year, do not usually disturb the tranquility of the waters, but there are some surprises in July and August: there can be treacherous storms on Como which affect the schedule of boats and ferries.

Natural attractions

The main reason for the popularity of Lake Como – magnificent views: the rocky, wooded shores, red-tiled roofs of village houses, old villas and castles, flowering gardens from March to October. On the north shore, at the mouth of the Adda and Mera rivers, is the Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve, a flat wetland between Lakes Como and Medzola.

Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve

At the southern borders of the reserve there are comfortable campsites located directly on the shore or within walking distance of the lake. At La Torre Camping in Sorico, campers are offered RVs or microhouses with verandas, hot and cold water, Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities. Guests can do wind and kitesurfing, horseback riding, paragliding and hang gliding. Camp La Riva, with its own outdoor pool, is set up on the Mere River. On the opposite bank is La Grande, which entices guests to bring their pets. The season at the campsites on Lake Como opens in March and lasts until November. The room costs about 10 euros per night, but all services, such as electricity, are paid separately. Guests are offered boats and launches, fishing and swimming accessories for rent.

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Pebble Beach on Lake Como

Beaches of Lake Como

The lake has few sandy beaches, one of the few is located near the town of Lierna on the eastern shore. In the rest of Como, narrow strips of shore are covered with pebbles, and near Lecco, near the eastern “leg”, the rocks even come close to the water. The most visited beaches with developed infrastructure – in the area of Bellagio. The water of Como is cool, the best time for swimming is July and August. Swimming is recommended along the shore to avoid cold currents.

Handcrafted attractions around Como

If travelers do not have enough time to see all the sights of coastal cities and towns, they are advised to pay attention to the place Como, once competing with Milan for dominance in the region. Today it is reminded of its former glory by the Baradello fortress rising over a 430 metre hill, or rather the square watchtower of the 6th century and the chapel of St Nicholas which remains of it. The Gothic cathedral of Como was built on the site of an earlier Romanesque one in the fourteenth century, the interior was renovated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The building, which reaches a height of 75 meters, is in the shape of a Latin cross. Inside the temple it is possible to take photographs, but not during church festivities.

Old places of worship are also preserved in other parts of Lake Como. In Gravedone, on the northwest shore, tourists can see the Romanesque church of Santa Maria del Tillo, built in the XII century in white marble and black stone. Inside, the floor with mosaics of V century with black-white-red patterns and fragments of medieval frescoes remained from the previous buildings.

Mount Ossuccio – UNESCO World Heritage Site

It is not the natural monument itself that has received protected status, but the Baroque chapels on it. The rock, 419 m high, is situated 25 km north of the town of Como, on the western shore of the lake, in the municipality of Ossuccio, opposite the island of Comacina. Once worshiped the goddess Ceres, in the XVII-XVIII centuries, 14 chapels with 230 terracotta statues of saints, leading to the last building, the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, were erected on the site of the sanctuary on a single plan.

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Comacina Island

Comacina, the only island on Lake Como, is small – only 600 meters long and 200 meters wide. In the twelfth century, during the Ten Years’ War between Como and Milan over trade routes, the island was set on fire and the inhabitants were forced to swim away from the burning ruins. To commemorate this event, every year on the Sunday closest to June 24, hundreds of toy boats with lighted candles are launched into the water. After the defeat, the island was deserted for a long time, the medieval buildings falling into disrepair. Residents returned to Comacina only in the Baroque period, then appeared the church of San Giovanni. Hotels for tourists began to be built in the twentieth century.

Villas and castles of Como

In the region of Perleda on the eastern shore of Lake Como a well preserved castle di Vezzo of XII century. However, tourists are more interested not in a harsh medieval structure, and the show of birds of prey, taking place daily in the garden from 10 to 16 hours from March to October. You can admire the swiftly diving buzzards, owls and hawks for only 4 euros. The respectable Castello di Lierna, 6 km to the south, differs from the austere walled stone building. The Milanese fought for the right to occupy it back in the 12th century, but then the locals simply used the sturdy foundation to build over it residential buildings, giving it a cozy bourgeois look.

Sculpture of a ghost on the wall of Castel di Veggio Villa Carlotta on Lake Como

On the shores of Lake Como there are many impregnable private villas, but some of the most interesting from an architectural point of view, are open to visitors for only 6-9 euros. The Villa Carlotta, built in the seventeenth century in Tremezzo, on the western shore of the lake opposite Bellagio, deserves attention. The complex looks most spectacular in the spring, when a hundred and fifty species of azaleas bloom in the garden. In the building itself there is a unique collection of Canova statues. Equally famous is the garden at the neoclassical Villa Melzi, open to tourists from late March to November.

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On the promontory of the commune of Ossuccio, right on the coast, at the foot of a forested mountain, rises the Villa Balbianello. Built at the beginning of the XVIII century on the ruins of a Franciscan monastery, it has become a living set for many film projects – Italian classics, one of the series about James Bond, an episode of “Star Wars”. The villa’s last owner, Guido Monzino, a famous explorer who conquered the North Pole, opened a museum in the house, which displays objects of Inuit life, Indians of Argentina, Masai, Tibetans, valuable collections of Venetian glass and English furniture.

Video: Surroundings of Lake Como

Lake Como activities

Lake Como is the only place in Europe where you can get a hydroplane pilot’s license after spending six months of personal time and more than 10 thousand euros. Ordinary tourists prefer an easier way – for 80 euros to take a passenger seat for a half-hour flight over Lake Como in a hydroplane. The town of Como has a year-round diving training center with a diving pool and kayaking courses. For lovers of the classics there is a school of rowing. The lake has a lot of excellent places for fishing, but to fish on their own can only be after buying a special permit worth about 30 euros per year.

There are many hiking trails in the vicinity with detailed maps, accessible signs and markings. You can also take the funicular from Como to the commune of Brunate in just 7 minutes. The line was opened back in 1894 and has since been completely rebuilt. The cable car runs every 15-30 minutes with 4 stops. Despite the disposing terrain, there is no skiing near Como – the nearest resort is an hour and a half north of the lake.

Funicular from Como to the commune of Brunate

Stores and restaurants

Lake Como towns can’t surpass Milan in the range of goods and prices, but there’s plenty to do here as well. On the shores of the lake, farmers breed mulberry silkworms, which provide the raw materials for elegant scarves and colorful ties. Numerous restaurants offer mostly Italian cuisine, including fresh fish.

Information for tourists

Excursion boats ply on Lake Como. The cost of a day trip from Como to Nesso with stops for sightseeing is 15 euros. For longer stays it is advantageous to purchase season tickets for river transport. The tourist season begins on Como in late February, after the carnival, the main attractions are opened in late March. In November, life slows down again in anticipation of spring.

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How to get there

Travelers usually arrive at Lake Como from Milan from Central Station by electric trains that run every hour. From Switzerland, there is an expressway through Colico to the north.

Lake Como (Italy)

Lake Como (Italy) – the most detailed description with photos, main attractions, how to get and location of Como on the map.

Lake Como (Lago di Como).

Como is a lake in the Lombardy region of Italy. It is one of the deepest lakes in Europe (maximum depth – 410 meters) and also one of the most beautiful. Como, along with Lakes Garda and Briese, is one of the most famous and most visited natural attractions in Italy.

Overnight on Lake Como

Overnight on Lake Como

How to get there

If you are vacationing or heading to Milan, Bergamo or other cities nearby, I recommend stopping by Lake Como as well. If going by car, it’s the A9 Como-Chiasso freeway. You can also get here by train. You can find the tickets here – http://www.trenitalia.com/

View of Lake Como

View of Como

The lake is formed by three arms: Colico to the north, Lecco to the southeast, and Como to the southwest. The mild climate and picturesque surroundings with beautiful villas and attractions attracts many tourists.

Fog on Lake Como

Fog on Lake Como

The best way to get to know Lake Como is by boat. You can admire the beautiful natural scenery, beautiful coastal towns and chic villas. And in the coastal restaurants try the traditional local cuisine – fish dishes, different kinds of cheese and delicious desserts.

On Lake Como

On Lake Como

The most interesting sights and places on Lake Como

The most interesting sights and places on Lake Como that you can visit in 1 to 3 days.

From the many coastal towns, the most popular and famous are Como, Lecco, Bellagio, Cernobbio, Varenna. Here are concentrated the main attractions.

On Lake Como

On Lake Como

If you come to the city of Como, be sure to see:

  1. The Cathedral of Como, one of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Northern Italy. This religious structure has been under construction for three and a half centuries since the 14th century. Here you will find sculptures by Rodari, paintings by Luini and Ferrari, and Renaissance paintings.
  2. The Church of Abbondio is an ancient 11th century church dedicated to St. Peter and Paul. A fine example of Romanesque architecture.
  3. Palazzo Broletto, built at the beginning of the 13th century.
  4. Palazzo Volta, a neoclassical structure dedicated to the great scientist and inventor.
  5. The Como-Brunate funicular railway connects the lake capital and the small town of Brunate at the very top, which offers a beautiful view. In 7 minutes the cable car takes 1 km and has a 55% grade with 500 meters drop.
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Panorama of Como

Panorama of Como

Lecco is the pearl of Como. The town, located in the southeast of the lake, is inextricably linked to the name of the famous writer Alessandro Manzoni. It was here that he drew inspiration for his famous novel, The Betrothed. In addition to the writer’s mansion-museum, be sure to see Piazza 20 de Septembre, the Old Market Square, the Visconti Tower, the San Nicolo Cathedral, the Town Hall and the Visconti Bridge, built during the Renaissance period.

Lake Como

Lake Como

Bellagio is a charming town on the shores of Como with a quaint old center: luxurious villas, shady alleys and ancient churches.

Lake Como

Lake Como

Cernobbio is a chic resort on the shores of Como with many chic villas. The most beautiful villas of Cernobbio are Villa Erba, Villa Visconti, Bernasconi and D’Este.

Lake Como

Lake Como

The island of Comacina is the only one on the lake. An extremely picturesque and romantic place where history, nature, art and archaeology intertwine in this small piece of land. Lush nature and beautiful landscapes with the remains of a fortified citadel will not leave you indifferent.

Among the many luxurious villas, I recommend a visit to Villa Balbianello in Lenno, built for Cardinal Durini in the late 18th century.

Lake Panorama

Panorama of the lake

If you like ancient religious buildings, I recommend a trip to the town of Ossuccio. Here, 25 km from Como, on the Holy Mountain there is a complex of chapels, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interesting excursions

Hidden corners of Venice

€200 per excursion

Hidden corners of Venice

Medieval, elegant, fragile – walk through the most authentic quarters of the city and comprehend its soul

Rome - sightseeing tour of the main sites and the undiscovered ghetto

€120 per excursion

Rome – a sightseeing tour of the major sites and the undiscovered ghetto

Trace the city’s path from Antiquity to modern times and learn about the inhabitants of the past and present

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