THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE
Ultimate Travel Guide Lake Como
“…charms of a life of love so natural…“
Away from the intensity of Milan and only minutes away from Switzerland is Lake Como, or Lago di Como in Italian, an exclusive beauty of natural wonder. Affectionately known as “Lario”, to the locals, this scenic lake is the deepest glacial lake and the third largest in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore.
Swaddled in hazy atmosphere, crisp breeze along with snowcapped Alps and lush green valleys, this wondrous area in the gorgeous region of Lombardy in northern Italy is a perfect destination for relaxing and active holidaymakers. This article about the Ultimate Travel Guide to Lake Como is exactly what you need before packing your bags and boarding that flight to the Italian Lakes.
In this guide, you have an overview of this splendid region and its people. This is followed by detailed experience based guides curated with fervour to support you in discovering the best of Lake Como region, Italy.
Ultimate Travel Guide Lake Como
LAKE COMO: A PLACE OF LUXURIOUS RETREAT AND TRANQUIL BEAUTY
The old fishermen houses in a multitude of hues rises straight up from the shores while seductive overgrown vines in centuries old grand villas tumble into the peaceful and skyline-silver waters. The shore, aged with grace has taken on all weather that this part of northern Italy has thrown at it. In the midst of dreamy views of bobbing boats, there is an air of endearing playfulness here that seduces you to slow-down and simply get lost in the tranquility and mesmerising serenity of the centuries old charm. You can’t help but fall in love with its captivating allure.
“…charms of a life of love so natural…“
The tranquil beauty of this upscale resort was well-captured by the Hungarian composer and writer, Franz Liszt who described Lake Como as:
“I do not know of any place which is more demonstrably blessed by heaven; I have never seen another one where the charms of a life of love can appear more natural”
Liszt wasn’t the only one who thought so. Lake Como has inspired residents from its very first settlers all those centuries ago to the Romans who turned it to be an aristocratic romantic resort for their elite.
Not much has changed since. The preserved medieval villages dotted along the shores, tucked into the base of the craggy mountains exude a romantic charm unlike any other, displaying an authentic version of its historical roots. Lazy cafes and hole-in-the-wall shops in the hills, accessed only by stone-stairs draw you to their somewhat laid-back culture. Every narrow alley, every gelato-coloured house framed with wrought-iron balconies and wisteria ache with stories to tell. A tour of the lake’s perimeter, an enchanting experience tells more of this region’s rich historic past. Lake Como still is a much-sought after luxurious retreat for both the famed and everyday travellers.
LAKE COMO TOWNS
Bellagio is the leading resort in Lario. Elegance and style intertwined with tradition and quirkiness, this town offers something for everyone.
Varenna, the wonderfully quaint and delightful well-preserved medieval town has a tiny harbour and a welcoming avenue of arches guarded by wrought iron and wisteria. A perfect place to watch the comings and goings of the boats over a spritz or two.
Como, the administrative centre of Como region brings history and elegance together with renowned hotspots for nightlife.
THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF LAKE COMO
In this picturesque and romantic Lario in the shadow of the Alps, the people are passionate about their native land. They tend to take life a day at a time and move at a more leisurely pace. They enjoy the company of good friends and family.
Each town, village and hamlet is splendidly unique in its own culture and tradition. The area is rich in folklore. There are many local festivals and musical celebrations. Each and every resident participates in their local events, fostering a bond with their native culture and land. They consider these events as rituals of sorts that are passed down from generation to generation. An example of a popular event here is the Carnival of Schignano, a carnival parade that dates back to ancient times.
FOOD & DRINKS IN LAKE COMO
Much of Lake Como’s cuisine culture is focused on the sparkling aqua waters, and the adjacent mountains and valleys of Como. While you can enjoy the much favoured Italian pasta and pizza dishes at most trattorie or grotti (caverns) along the lakeside, they also offer unique dishes deeply connected to the history and cultural legacy of the Lake Como region. These unique culinary specials can truly only be experienced where they were invented and preserved until now.
Fish is a staple of the region. Many of the freshwater fish caught in Lake Como are cooked, dried, baked or fried. They are then served in a number of ways and accompany local dishes.
The most popular fish is considered to be lavarello, a light lake fish which is completely without bones. Other commonly consumed fish include shad, perch, pike fillets and eel. Many towns in Lake Como usually offer the same types of fish but each has a unique way of preparing them.
A popular fish based dish to try is fritto misto di lago. This is a fried mix of lake fish, eaten as a stand alone dish, much favoured by the locals. Another popular local dish is the risotto with perch fish, which goes well with fruity white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay.
Surrounded by the rolling green hills and mountains of Como, the region is home to olive tree groves, mountain cheeses and fresh fruits along with vegetables. These compliment much of the local cuisine.
The d’Alpe Grasso cheese is a hard-cooked cheese made with the whole milk of cows that graze exclusively in the mountain pastures.
Polenta, is a dish of boiled cornmeal and is one of the oldest dishes in Italy. The dish is deeply rooted in the cultural identity of Italians. It was a staple food in Italy for a long time and made its presence at every Italian dinner table.
Polenta can be made with eggs or potatoes. The most popular polenta dish is polenta uncia, made with lots of butter, mountain cheese, sage and garlic.
BEST TIME TO VISIT LAKE COMO
The best time to visit Lake Como is from April to October.
The average temperature in the Lake Como region is -5°C to +5°C (23°F to 41°F) in winter and 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) in summer.
The Lake Como region has a subcontinental climate. This gives rise to cold winters and sultry summers along with high humidity throughout the year.
July is the hottest month and the coldest is January. Summer months are hot, humid and wet. The winter months are very cold, snowy and windy.
Lake Como is characterised by Mediterranean conditions and allows for pleasant weather for much of the year. The temperatures are perfect for the green foliage and subtropical plants to grow in abundance all year long.
SKIP-THE-LINE TICKETS, TOURS AND DAY TRIPS
Lake Como is an incredible destination in Italy and popular amongst tourists. Many tourist attractions sell-out fast especially in the high season. If you absolutely want to experience an attraction or an event, it is essential to book skip-the-line tickets, tours and excursions in advance.
For my own trips, I pretty much book all of my activities, tours, and day trips with Get Your Guide. This is my family’s and my favourite one-stop shop for all of our tickets and tours. We use them because they offer wide ranging activities at a destination, their customer service is always helpful, and they have one of the most flexible cancellation policies that I have known.
You can book directly with a local company. This means that you may not always be able to cancel for free, let alone receive a refund in case something goes wrong at the last minute. For this reason, using a well-established intermediary in the travel industry is helpful and Get Your Guide is the best one I know.
If you would like to get involved in some activities while visiting Lake Como, you can read about the best things to do in the popular Lake Como towns. You can find these articles listed below. In the meantime, you can also browse through the following much in-demand activities in Lake Como.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND TRANSPORTATION IN LAKE COMO
Depending on how long your visit to Lake Como is for and when, you may have to book your accommodations early. Lake Como is a sought-after holiday destination both by the Italians and travellers. Best priced and high quality accommodations are always gone first. For this reason, and especially if you are travelling in the high season between April and October, book well in advence of your travels. This is so to secure the best price and good starred accommodation that offers everything you are looking for during your stay.
For almost all of my trips, I book my accommodations through Booking.com and the only other alternative has been with British Airways because of Rewards I have accumulated. Booking offers a wide selection of hotels, B&B’s and privately owned accommodations. They also have the most transparent booking system along with excellent flexibility terms for payments and cancellations.
Lake Como is well connected to public transportation. The main modes of transport here are by boat and bus. The region has good roads too but I’d suggest leaving the driving to people who know the roads best!
Read my guide about transportation in Lake Como. The guide sets out in detail what you need to know about travelling on the western shores as well as the eastern shores of Lake Como. This includes my experienced tips on the local transportation which I used when visiting Lake Como.
THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO LAKE COMO
For the best in scenery, old aristocratic romantic charm and the Italian la dolce vita, go to Lake Como. You will surely fall in love with this natural wonder that vibrates the hum of enjoyment and simple pleasures in life. The stories and experiences will tug your heart strings long after you’ve left the region.
Read these articles before your trip
Read all about the famous towns before your trip.
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