Lake Como in northern Italy seen from Bellagio, one of the region's most enduring attractions.
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Lake Como Maps and Ferry Information
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Set in a spectacular landscape of mountains, hills, yellow and pink villages, the massive expanse of Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian) has been a popular holiday destination for centuries, offering soothing views, slapping waters, gorgeous waterside villas and escape from the internal combustion engine.
This last was not a problem for the English poet Shelley in 1818 when he wrote 'This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests'.
The ferry approaching Como town. Note limited seating in the bow pole position, probably totalling no more than 30 seats so get in line early!
Sadly the most cost-effective way to see Como these days is via an internal combustion engine, albeit a marine diesel set into a leisurely ferry that zig-zags up and down the snaking lake every few hours. Still, the engine's at the stern while savvy travellers will have lined up early to grab a place - preferably a seat because it's a long journey - in the bow (we suggest left side for best views, 4/5 rows back as the bow is quite high and will impede vision unless you are a giraffe).
Como town's Gothic/Renaissance Duomo (cathedral) a 14th century structure scattered with fine carvings, reliefs, paintings and tombs.
The town has a pleasant ambience and some interesting architecture but in truth there's not much here to hold a demanding tourist so let's get down to the waterfront 200m away and get on the ferry for some serious sightseeing.
A typical town jetty at Cernobbio, the ferry's second stop, where wealthy tourists head for...
...Villa d'Este's opulence while the hoi polloi stroll around the town or...
Villa d'Este is a vast Cardinal's palace built in 1570 and later home to various members of the aristocracy. It is now a very expensive hotel with average room charges of around €1,000 a night.
...take a swim in a public swimming pool beside Villa Erba. More Lake Como Pictures.
Other potential activities on Lake Como are windsurfing, kitesurfing and dinghy sailing. Swimming in the lake is not recommended unless you're bacteria-proof. After a visit to the lovely, pricey town of Bellagio the next most popular destination in Como is Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo and its magnificent gardens and views over the lake to the Italian Alps.
The must dos in the Como region are:
1) a ferry ride 2) a mountain hike (Menaggio or Dongo are good starting points) or lakeside walk (e.g. the 4 miles of the Lake Como Greenway on the west coast).
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