Thursday, May 29, 2014

Travel Guide | Glamorous Lake Como

A place of rare natural beauty, Lake Como (Lago di Como) has been Europe's preferred aristocratic retreat since Roman times. Madonna, George Clooney and Sylvester Stallone are just a handful of stars who have villas here. In addition to the chance to spot a celebrity, glamorous Lago di Como shines with many cultural and historic landmarks in the charming little towns dramatically set around its shores.

The lake is famous for its magnificent villas, the majority of which were built centuries ago. Among the most beautiful ones is Villa Carlotta, where masterpieces of art and nature coexist in perfect harmony. Completed in the end of the 17th century for a wealthy Milanese family, the villa is currently a museum. Decorated with many sculptures, stairs and fountains, it is surrounded by a huge botanical garden, particularly beautiful in spring when the azaleas are in full bloom.

Villa Carlotta's Fountain at the main gate

Villa del Balbianello, is another famous villa and museum, known for its elaborate terraced gardens. Villa d'Este was built in the 16th century in Cernobbio and was home to many royalties until it became a luxury hotel attracting many celebrity guests.

Villa del Balbianello

Lake Como from Villa D'Este

Not just one but two famous villas can be found in Bellagio, the pearl of the lake. The neo-classical villa Melzi d'Eril, with its Japanese garden, and Villa Serbelloni, a five-star hotel-de-lux also with a garden open to the public.

Already famous as a holiday resort in Roman times, Bellagio is a charming little lake shore town with numerous ristorantes, small shops and cobblestone alleys.

Lake Como is quite big, with an area of more than 140 sq. km and has more than 20 picturesque towns. The most convenient way to see them all is the frequent and reliable ferry service. It might take a week to do it properly but if you only have a day or two try to visit at least Cernobbio, Lenno, Moltrasio, Tremezzo and Bellagio.

The pier at Cernobbio


The Alps, as seen from Bellagio