Any location with water views is lovely, but Lake Como is so beautifully picturesque. It has long been a favourite holiday destination for celebrities and tourists since Roman times. It’s definitely one of the top lakes to visit in Italy, if not the world. With the Alpine backdrop, clear blue water, stately villas and waterfront eateries, you can see the undeniable attraction of this part of the world.
I recently travelled to Italy, to visit my family’s country of origin, where I spent several days enjoying the tranquility of Wintertime at Lago Di Como, with my husband and two kids. It was free from the hustle and bustle of the summer months that are overrun with tourists. If you like peace and quiet on your holidays, which I do, then I recommend visiting in the off-peak season, as it really is magnificent.
Lake Como is located in the region of Lombardy and is shaped like an upside down Y. Approximately 2 hours drive north from Milan, autostrada all the way, we drove to the village of Dervio, which is about half way up the lake on the right hand side, past Varenna.
We arrived at our fabulous accommodation, which we booked online, for 4 nights. A huge white villa right on the lake awaited us, with fabulous multi-levelled gardens, a giant balcony/terrace over the water’s edge and steps leading down to the lake. I couldn’t believe the size and the setting of this property; truly magnificent. During peak season this place would be ridiculously expensive to rent. Best of all, we had it all to ourselves!
The views of the lake from the villa with the mountains in the background and snow covered peaks, were breathtaking. How beautiful to wake up to this every morning! I knew I had found the perfect place to relax and unwind. The amazing view was captivating and I just could not stop admiring the scenery in all it’s glory.
Dervio is one of the smaller towns around the lake. It has a medieval hamlet, called Corenno Plinio, with an historic castle, a cobblestoned piazetta, and old houses cascading onto the water’s edge.
The castle dating from the 1300s called Castello di Corenno Plinio, is amazingly, still standing and relatively untouched. A very charming historical neighbourhood that feels like you are back in time. A fascinating place to explore.
There are a number of shops and restaurants open at this time of the year, however some are closed of course. But there is a major shopping centre 20 minutes drive from here which is open all year round and has everything you need.
We frequented a great little restaurant called La Taverna del Castello on Via Pietro Badoglio. Very cosy with simple home style Italian cooking, quite cheap with a set menu, inclusive of wine & coffee. Staff speak English and are very friendly and welcoming.
Driving around the extremely narrow streets is a little hair-raising and certainly gets the blood pressure up, especially when driving a larger vehicle like a station wagon. Most people in Italy drive tiny cars which can easily manoeuvre the tight streets and corners. However, we managed ok with only minor heart palpitations.
A must at the lake is to take a ferry to visit some of the other major towns: Menaggio, Bellagio, Varenna and Cadenabbia. The ferries depart from each dock regularly and cost only a few euros per person. It really is a great way to experience the lake and enjoy the views. Marvellous shots can be taken from the ferry while cruising the water.
Check the timetable on the official website before you go. Please note, ticket purchases can only be made at the docks’ ticket booths.
A very pretty part of Lake Como and a typical old Italian town is Varenna. Definitely one of the places you must visit here. It is an adorable authentic historic little village. I just love it here.
Varenna is one of the more popular tourist towns, with colourful buildings and a medieval part also with a castle, Castello di Vezio.
It has a gorgeous red walkway suspended over the water’s edge to stroll alongside some of the most beautiful mansions and gardens you will see. It’s called, wait for it … Walk of Lovers.
Bellagio is one of the most well known towns, with stunning properties and majestic gardens. Lots of cobblestoned alleys and stairways to explore which I adore.
We dined at a Pizzeria restaurant called La Grotta (The Cave), up a charming stairway. A very popular spot with great food in a cozy environment which resembles a cave, hence the name. Again, being winter time, not all restaurants are open, but there is still a few to choose from.
I recommend visiting Lake Como any time of the year, because it’s simply exquisite and you won’t want to leave. I definitely will be back!