Lake Como is located in the northern part of Italy, in the region of Lombardy. It is smaller than Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore but 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.
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.
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 pictures, 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.
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.
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.
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
In the northern part of the famous Italian boot lies the administrative region of Lombardy. Its most famous city, the region’s capital and an advanced fashion center, is Milan. But now we will tell you not about it, but about the amazing Lake Como, which is located 60 km to the north (the lake center is 60 km from Milan, and the nearest coast is only 40 km). Lake Como is located near the border with Switzerland.
The lake has an interesting elongated shape, in the form of an inverted letter “Y”. Como resembles a tall man pacing merrily in Switzerland.
This is how Lake Como looks like from space
The total length of the lake is about 48 km. From the north of the town of Gera Lario (in the original Gera Lario) to the south for about 23 km, it is up to 4.5 kilometers wide. Further, near the town of Bellagio, the lake divides into two narrower arms, although, if you think of a walking man, it is more like two pant legs. The eastern pant leg ends in the town of Lecco, and the western one in the town of Como, from which the name is derived.
Lake Como on a map
- Geographic coordinates ( 46.008034, 9.261664 )
- Distance from Rome, Italy about 530 km in a straight line
- To the nearest Bergamo Orio-al Serio airport about 50 km
Lake Como is mainly fed by the Adda and Mera rivers, which flow into it in the northern part. In addition, a number of smaller rivers and streams flow into it.
Como is recognized as one of the deepest lakes in Europe. The depth in some places reaches 425 meters. The average depth is also impressive – 154 meters. The altitude is 198 meters above sea level. The length of the coastline is 170 kilometers. The volume of water in Lake Como is estimated at 22.5 km 3 . The surface area is 145 km 2 .
The main attraction of Lake Como are the gorgeous views, clean air and beautiful nature. At all times the lake has been highly valued among the elite and famous people. Since the Roman Empire on its shores loved to live and rest the most important people and aristocrats. In modern history, many famous people have lived on the shore, including John Kerry, Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho and Sylvester Stallone. At different times Lake Como was visited by Mark Twain (in 1876), Napoleon, Byron, Giuseppe Verdi, Leonardo da Vinci and many more famous people.
The Climate of Lake Como
The climate of Lake Como is classified as continental with high humidity. Temperatures are about 4 o C in winter and 23.5 o C in summer. In general, the lake area has a milder climate than the rest of Lombardy. The presence of large masses of water, working as an accumulator of heat, and the mountains that protect the surrounding area from strong winds have an effect.
Scientists believe that Lake Como was formed during the last ice age, when giant blocks of ice ploughed deep furrows in the soft rocks, forming canyons. Gradually the gorges were filled with melted ice and water from streams and rivers from nearby mountains.
Lake Como. View from Above
The name of the lake comes from the city of Como, known to the Romans as Comum (in the original Comum). In Latin, the lake was called Larius. In Italian it sounds like Lario, but this name is rarely used; it is usually called Lago di Como (literally “Lake Como”).
The only island on Lake Como
Such a large lake has only one single island called Komachina. Compared to the size of the lake, the island is quite small, about 200 by 600 meters. During the Ten Years’ War (1118-1127) between Milan and Como for control of the trade routes, the island of Comacina was completely burned. The surviving inhabitants panicked and left the island swimming. Even now, hundreds of years later, the event is remembered. Every year on the Sunday closest to June 24 (St. John’s Day), fireworks are set off to symbolize the fire that destroyed the island. And thousands of snail shells with burning candles inside are lowered into the water.
After the tragic events of the 12th century no one inhabited the island for a long time. Only in the 17th century people began to return here, and in the 20th century already built hotels for tourists.
Attractions around Lake Como
All the coast of Lake Como is literally dotted with historical sights. There are many basilicas, temples and churches. Among them
- The Cistercian Abbey of Pion, located in Colico. It is one of the main testimonies of the Lombard Romanesque period, dating back to the 11th century
- San Pietro al Monte Abbey on the slopes of Mount Cornizzolo, a striking example of Romanesque art
- The monastery of Santa Maria del Lavello, built between the 14th and 15th centuries, an important Franciscan complex of Romanesque origin.
- Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, one of the oldest churches of Como, built around 1000
- Church of Santa Maria del Tiglio, located in Gravedon, characterized by a bicramanic wall covering and a bell tower on the façade
- The Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ossuccio is part of a group of nine Sacred Mountains protected by UNESCO
- The Church of San Nazaro and Celso in Brino is considered the oldest church in the vicinity of Lake Como
In addition, much of Lake Como’s surroundings are parks and protected nature reserves, rich in vegetation and inhabited by many species of animals.
The regional parks around Lake Como
- Adda Nord Park, which includes flat areas crossed by the Adda River
- North Grigna Park, on the eastern shore between the lake and the Aubean Alps
- Parco Spina Verde di Como, west of the city of Como
- The Monte Barro Natural Park lies between the tip of the eastern branch of Lake Como, Lake Garlate and Lake Annone
- In addition to the regional parks there are numerous nature reserves, authentic gems of Lake Como with a variety of flora and fauna. Among them, for example, the Riserva del Pian (in the northern part of Lake Como) overlooking Lake Mezzola (in the original Lago di Mezzola)
And in general, there are still many cozy nooks in the area.
Isle of Comacina
Ideally located in the center of the Alpine region, Lake Como is a popular vacation spot all over the world because of its amazing and attractive landscape. The scenery is filled with thousands of shades of blue and green, snow-capped rocky or forested mountains. In addition to the breathtaking views, there are historic towns on the coast. The holiday at Lake Como is mostly peaceful and relaxed but there is also a wide range of activities: water sports (sailing, diving, water skiing, windsurfing), mountain climbing, skiing, free climbing, as well as many other outdoor and indoor sports. There is room, fun and relaxation for every guest.
Villas on the shores of Lake Como
Interesting facts about Lake Como
- Lake Como is the only place in Europe where you can get a hydroplane pilot’s license. But you have to spend 6 months and about 10,000 euros
- Sometimes Lake Como can present a surprise in the form of storms, which even change the schedule of ferries. Movement of boats and boats are, of course, limited
- In 2002, famous Hollywood actor George Clooney rode his motorcycle on the shores of the lake and enjoyed the beautiful views. But in the town of Lalio (originally Laglio), the iron horse under the Harley Davidson brand broke down. George had to go to a local service station. What was the Hollywood star’s surprise when none of the mechanics recognized him. Clooney realized that here he could be away from intrusive fans and ubiquitous paparazzi, and a little later bought the Villa Oleander on the west coast of the western arm of Lake Como. The cost of the deal was 11.7 million euros. And in the beginning everything was great. A quiet holiday without the constant flash photography and crowds of groupies. But the paparazzi are paparazzi to pester celebrities everywhere, wherever they are hiding. Of course, they found George here, too, and began to wait for him, sailing boats to the villa itself. Now Clooney is thinking about selling his estate, in addition, the owners of the company Heinz (famous in the world of ketchup), he has already offered 100 million dollars. Most likely, the deal will happen. Such a profit even a Hollywood star would not hurt
Lake Como photo
Houses on the shores of Lake Como
The town of Bellagio on Lake Como