In the heart of the Lombardy region of Italy, at the base of the Rhaetian Alps, lies Lake Como with the beautiful city of Bellagio on its central peninsula. Once a fishing village, later the destination for the luxurious summer estates of Italian aristocrats and dignitaries under Napoleon, Bellagio's legendary grace draws visitors from all over the world.
Along the shores of Lake Como in both directions from the center, there are quaint villages where fishermen haul in their catches and cats lounge in the sun. When you visit the area, spend some time exploring the towns of Como and Lecco. Stroll the colorful market areas. Sample the legendary food and wine of Lombardy. Visit the churches, historic castles and country estates with magnificent gardens. And of course, enjoy the lake. There are plenty of charter tours and sunset champagne cruises that can take you out on the water and around Isola Comacina, Lake Como's only island.
Here are a few additional suggestions as you plan your trip:
- Relax in La Punta Spartivento: Visit this serene and lovely park in Bellagio City. The Swiss Alps rise up in the distance and reflect perfectly on the tranquil surface of Lake Como.
- See the Vezio Castle: Hike up the hillside to the Castello di Vezio from the town of Varenna. Take in the spectacular views of the lake from above and time your visit for the falconry show.
- Explore the gardens of the Melzi Villa: Built in 1808, the structure and gardens of this estate provide one of Lombardy's most enchanting architectural sites. Once a family residence for one of Napolean's dukes, this neo-classical villa has been restored and its gardens have been brought back to life.
- Take an Italian cooking class: Once you've sampled the culinary treasures of the Lombardy region in a local restaurant, you may want to take a course and learn how to reproduce these traditional flavors on your own.
- Play on the lake: Rent a boat and glide out on the water. Go windsurfing, swim, or just relax on the tranquil beaches of Domaso or Gravedona.
- Visit the St. James Cathedral: This Bellagio City structure is a classic example of the Romanesque churches of Lombardy.
Whatever time of year you visit, you'll have no trouble finding a place to stay in any of the towns and villages that border the lake. Find an elegant condo in Bellagio or a lakeside villa on the shores of Domaso. You can also easily find a cabin in the hills further inland as well.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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