The landscape is a fairytale setting: mountains plunging into the lake, forests, small beaches of white pebbles or soft grass, headlands bathed by placid waters.
The beauty of the stone villages and fairytale villas, with manicured gardens and aristocratic atmospheres, and the grand hotels: this scenery with Lake Lario has inspired artists and poets of all ages.
Como, the pearl of the lake
Our journey, to fully grasp the charm of Como, cannot stop at its monuments alone.
Starting from the lake, we are seduced by the beauty and majesty of the buildings that suddenly give way to spaces surrounded by greenery.
Arriving at Piazza Cavour, Como’s former port, we can explore the nucleus of the walled city, with 19th-century-style dwellings.
Stops not to be missed include the 15th-century Duomo, the Broletto municipal palace and the former Casa del Fascio, now the headquarters of the Guardia di Finanza.
After a stroll through the lively Piazza San Fedele, you can continue your visit with the scenic lakeside promenade, which starts at the Tempio Voltiano and follows the bends of the lake shore, offering scenic views. And before leaving the lake, you can take the opportunity to admire it from a unique viewpoint. In fact, a funicular railway takes you to Brunate, a pretty village perched 715 metres above sea level where you can seek refreshment and above all enjoy the exceptional panorama of the town, the lake and the Alps.
The majesty of the villas on the ancient Via Regina
In the area surrounding Como, a row of sumptuous villas embellishes the western shore of the lake. The final stretch, after Sala Comacina and Isola Comacina, offers landscapes famous for their sunny character. Between Cernobbio and Brienno, it is best to avoid the modern halfway road and take the old Via Regina, which passes through villages perched on the lake, rich in old houses and viewpoints, to join State Road 340 at Torriggia.
The entire part of Cernobbio that overlooks the lake is a succession of stately villas built between the 15th century, such as the nucleus of Villa Pizzo (today known as Volpi Bassani), and the 20th century, such as Villa Bernasconi, designed in Art Nouveau style by Alfredo Campanini and fitted out with an interesting ‘talking museum’ that tells the story of the villa and the Bernasconi family. We recommend a climb up the winding, steep road that in about 17 kilometres leads to Mount Bisbino, a balcony from which to admire splendid views. On the summit, 1325 metres above sea level, crowned by a small shrine, the view sweeps over the lake, the mountains and the Lombardy plain.
Before leaving Cernobbio, we cannot forget the splendour of Villa d’Este, a 16th century mansion embellished with a splendid Italian garden. After having been a noble property, the villa was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1873, and remains so today. Many directors have taken advantage of its beauty, from Alfred Hitchcock (his first feature film) to Steven Soderbergh (Ocean Twelve, filmed in 2004 and starring George Clooney, the star who has most linked his image to the Lario).
The magic of Christmas at Villa d’Este (Lake Como)
Preparations have begun to equip the glittering Villa d’Este in the enchanting Christmas setting.
Once again this year, for the 150th season, the magic that sees the hotel open its doors to guests with the Christmas atmosphere will be repeated.
Lake Como will let its citizens and the ever-present tourists experience Christmas with decorations of rare beauty and food and wine events.
Villa d’Este has entrusted flower design expert Vincenzo Dascanio with the task of decorating the entire hotel with decorations inspired by the ‘secret garden’ theme.
The large hotel will also host Wine Dinners with tastings of fine wine labels designed by Wine Manager Alex Bartoli. These will range from Dom Perignon champagnes to fine wines, all of which will be accompanied by expert dishes prepared by chef Michele Zambarini dedicated to Italian cuisine.
The magic of Christmas will begin on 1 December with the extraordinary ceremony of switching on the Christmas lights and the opening of a space that was already highly appreciated by guests last year: the Greenhouse overlooking the lake. Made entirely of glass and with a contemporary design, this exclusive space will be a lounge area designed for every moment of the day, where guests can relax during the winter days, enjoy the ritual of tea, indulge in an aperitif, perhaps even trying a caviar selection, or enjoy an evening of live music. To accompany these moments, the proposals of Group Executive Chef Michele Zambanini, designed for an all-day dining menu.
Also starting on 1 December, a new Chocolate Room will be set up in the Sala Colonne: a space dedicated to chocolate and Villa d’Este’s home-made haute patisserie, with the possibility of enjoying a cup of coffee or tea accompanied by cakes, pralines and, why not, a slice of Villa d’Este’s delicious artisan panettone, created by the skilful hands of Fabrizio Bertola, Pastry Chef Villa d’Este.
It will also be possible to experience the magical period of December.
From cooking classes in the kitchen to prepare typical Christmas cakes, but also peek at the production of the iconic Villa d’Este panettone cakes, to workshops to learn how to decorate one’s tables with handmade decorations. There will also be boat tours on the most beautiful days or shopping tours in the city in search of the latest gifts.
For more information see Villa D’Este
From Moltrasio to the island of Comacina
Leaving Cernobbio behind, we will first pass through Moltrasio, a village known for its grey stone, to Brienno, a medieval village famous for its markets, and on to the island of Comacina.
Green, the only island in the Lario, it looks like the crown of a giant tree submerged by the waters of the lake. An enchantment for painters, and it is hardly surprising that it belongs to the Brera Academy and is home to artist residencies.
Moltrasio is a TCI Orange Flag village located on the shores of Lake Como. The area is dotted with parks, gardens, cultivated terraces and mountain forests, which can be discovered along four themed routes (water, stone, history, panorama). Worth visiting are the small churches in Borgo and Vignola and the villas, such as Villa Le Rose, Villa Passalacqua and Villa Salterio Erker, as well as the private wine cellars, known as ‘Crotti’, built in stone using a special technique that makes the environment ideal for storing demijohns of wine. The island, together with the coastline in front of it, between the small gulf between Argegno and the Lavedo (or Balbianello) peninsula, constituted an autonomous political centre in the Middle Ages.
Brienno Christmas Market
Brienno is a village characterised by nature stretching towards the mountains along the lake. It is a tangle of streets, arcades and stairs, where Christmas markets are held under the arcades. The stalls offer typical and unusual products in a path of lights, colours and scents. In addition, there are many refreshment stands where you can enjoy traditional dishes in a special atmosphere. Father Christmas’s house, full of sweets and ready to receive the letters of visiting children, is hidden in the arcades. The ninth edition of the markets will be held on 2 and 3 December and from 8 to 10 December 2023.
Thanks to the Alpini, on Saturday and Sunday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., it will be possible to visit the Galleria da Mina del Puncett, a tunnel carved into the rock as a defensive point of the Cadorna Line.
The boat will also stop in Brienno (and seeing the illuminated village from the lake is truly magical): during the five days of the Mercatini, trips 22 and 23 will make an extraordinary stop in Brienno and in particular
- route 22: departure from Como at 11:30 a.m. / arrival in Brienno at 12:20 p.m.
- route 23: departure from Varenna at 14:55 / stop in Brienno at 16:20 / arrival in Como at 17:10
For further information, please consult the website www.navigazionelaghi.it
Menaggio, last postcard from Lake Como
Here we are at the last stop on our itinerary. We are in Menaggio, an Orange Flag town of the Italian Touring Club. The historic centre of the town is a pleasant place to stroll around. In the upper part of the town one can admire the medieval heritage, while on the lakeshore one can see the 19th-century imprint, characterised by the presence of large hotels, a lido, sports facilities and an elegant promenade, ideal for taking one last postcard from Lake Como.