A STAY IN LAKE COMO, IN THE OFF-SEASON
Any location with water views is lovely, but Lake Como in the North of Italy is one of the most beautifully picturesque lakes in the world. It has long been a favourite holiday destination for celebrities and tourists since Roman times. With the Alpine backdrop, clear blue water, stately villas and waterfront eateries, you can see the undeniable attraction of this part of Italy. Lake Como in Winter time is equally as stunning, as I discovered.
I travelled to Italy from Melbourne, Australia, via Doha, Qatar, and landed in Milan. From there I drove north to the Italian lakes at the foot of the Alps, where I spent several days enjoying the tranquility of Lake Como in Winter.
It was a delightful experience, 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-season, late September to early June. It really is quite magnificent. The lake never freezes over so you can still enjoy its beauty with some peace and quiet.
Lake Como is located in the region of Lombardy and is shaped like an upside down Y. It is the deepest lake in Europe. Approximately 2 hours drive north of 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.
Read Driving In Italy for tips and advice.
The Town of Dervio
Our rental villa
We arrived at Dervio to find our accommodation, which we booked online, for 4 nights. The Villa Miki Comer See is a huge villa right on the lake, with a lovely multi-levelled garden, a giant 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. It was truly magnificent. During peak season this place would be ridiculously expensive to rent, but off-peak it was quite the bargain and could comfortably sleep a larger group.
The views of Lake Como in Winter 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.
What to see
Dervio is one of the smaller towns around the lake, but still very touristy for its water sports, in particular, sailing.
The little village dates back to Roman times. It has a medieval hamlet called Corenno Plinio, with a historic castle and tower, a cobblestoned piazzetta, and ancient houses cascading onto the water’s edge. A truly magical spot!
The castle dating from the 1300’s 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, makes it 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. What more could you want! 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 gorgeous 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 from the water. There are marvellous photo opportunities at every angle 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.
The Town of Varenna
A very pretty part of Lake Como and a typical old Italian fishing town is Varenna. Definitely one of the must-see places you must visit here. It is an adorable authentic historic little village. I just love it here.
Read my post A Day In Varenna.
Varenna is one of the more popular tourist towns, with colourful buildings and a medieval part, also with an old castle, called Castello di Vezio.
Varenna has a gorgeous red walkway suspended over the water’s edge. Here you can stroll alongside some of the most beautiful mansions and gardens you are likely to see. It’s called, wait for it … Walk of Lovers.
The Town of Bellagio
Bellagio is one of the most well known towns, attracting tourists for its stunning villas and majestic gardens. There are lots of cobblestoned alleys and stairways to explore, which I adore. Some call Bellagio the Pearl of Lake Como.
As well as being popular for water sports, it is also a romantic destination for couples. Located in the middle of Lake Como, it is easily accessible and a must visit.
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.
Tours of Lake Como to enjoy
With so many tours on offer around the lake, you will find the right one for you. Here are a few recommendations.
Accommodation at Lake Como
I recommend visiting Lake Como any time of the year, because it’s simply exquisite and you won’t want to leave.
Have you been to Lake Como? Share your thoughts below.