Lifestyle & Travel
Oct 1, 2015
A Lake of Splendour
Lake Como, Lago di Como, Lago Lario, so many names, and just one place. And a beautiful one too. By the Alps, and almost in Switzerland lies this majestic and magnificent lake, which has been a stage for many loves, many cries, and the inspiration of many different artists and composers.
The lake is distinctively shaped like the letter "Y", turned upside down, meaning the northern branch stands alone, and here stands the town of Colico. At the southern branches stand two other towns: at the southeast, lies Lecco, and at southwest sits the town that gives name to the lake, the town of Como. Several towns by the shore line deserve mention, besides all the other beautiful villages. There are three towns that stand at the intersection of the three Y branches: Bellagio, Menaggio and Lierna. A triangular boat service operates between them, and car ferries and vaporetti (water buses) traverse the lake in season, making it easy to get to other main towns like Cernobbio, Tremezzo, and Varenna.
The lake is mainly fed by the Adda River, from North in Colico to South in Lecco, where it flows out. As a tourist destination, Lake Como has various sites, from landscapes and wildlife to spas. Palatial villas, rose-laden belvederes, hanging wisteria and bougainvillea, lanterns casting a glow over lakeshore restaurants, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing here are the attractions, and people from all over the world, famous and not, come here to live them.
Como guards the South shore of the lake. In its center, elegant cobbled pedestrian streets wind their way past parks and cafés. However, it's not all a resort: the city has an industrial heritage, the production of textiles, particularly silk and the silk trade.
Bellagio always seems perfectly adorned, and is sometimes said to be the prettiest town in Europe, with bougainvillea adorning its staircases and geraniums blooming in every window, or montées. At dusk, Bellagio's nightspots—including the wharf, where an orchestra serenades dancers under the stars—invite you to come and join the party.
Boats can take you from here to Tremezzo, and see Villa Carlotta, where Count Sommariva, Napoleon's worst Italian enemy, resided at.
The town is still very typical, and still has a neighborhood atitude especially on summer evenings and weekends when the square is full of families and couples strolling. Legendary resort of Villa d'Este is reason enough to visit this jewel on the lake, but the town itself is worth a stroll.
There is an eighteen-hole golf course close to town, and plenty of good walking in the area, from easy strolls to tough mountain hikes, as well as opportunities for swimming, water-skiing, mountain-biking and riding. The town presents itself at the shoreline of the Lake, displaying trees, various flowers, astonishing architecture and overwhelming mountain views and landscapes.
From Menaggio you can take boat trips around the lake, and embark on excursions to the lake's scattered gardens and beauty spots. Ferries arrive at Menaggio from the northern and southern ends of the lake, and cross the waters to Varenna and Bellagio, while buses run to Lake Lugano, and along the lake, making it easy to visit all Lake Como's attractions.
The town features a lake harbor, very characteristic, and a wonderful stone beach. But the enchantment of the town is the picturesque pedestrian lanes, the concealed restaurants and bars, the villa gardens, open to the public. Heading up from the lake into the sloping lanes, you will eventually arrive to the main piazza and the lake-shore road.
Varenna is an old settlement, and legend says that it was founded (or expanded) by twelfth-century evacuees from Lake Como's island, the Isola Comacina, fleeing from the destruction of their homes. In the summer the village puts on a special commemorative event with local foods, a historical re-enactment and a firework display.