The meandering lake stretched on the northern part of Italy is one unforgettable place. Or should I say, places. Lago di Como (also known as Lake Como) is about 1.5 hours drive north of Milan, still in the beautiful Lombardy region. Encompassing Old Town charm and rustic romance, it almost feels like I’m sharing a secret hideaway place, although I’m not.
I first took a train from Venice to Milan and hired a Bellagio taxi service that specialises in driving to and from Bellagio, a town in Lake Como. They can pick you up from a couple of places but I figured Milan would be the shortest drive. Italy is many things but the quaint villages in Como are enough to get me to want to come back. Not only just for a short visit but quite possibly a long one if possible. The vivid view, the crisp air and the cozy surrounds make Lake Como the quintessentially rustic and quaint town it is.
As I sat atop a ferry deck, I look out at the true blue lake accompanied by the lush greeneries of the forests and the colourful rustic towns against the shadows of the sheer rolling alps. Natural beauty is undeniably met with every head turn. The crisp alpine breeze is enough for me to savour each and every minute of my time there.
Known as a popular retreat destination for wealthy aristocrats in the Roman times, it’s also frequented by current well-known celebrities. Not too long ago, George Clooney acquired a vacation home in one of the towns, Madonna adores it and John Legend and Chrissy Teigen exchanged their vows in one of the beautiful gardens. Despite its popularity, Lake Como is still isolated, perfect for a delightful peaceful break from all the obligatory stresses of city life. The slow-pace lifestyle makes you want to simply throw caution to the wind, even your itinerary! Visit whichever Old World elegant town you want, walk to whichever vividly luscious garden and you can even cross the border to the nearest Switzerland town, Lugano. Most lakeside residents commute to Lugano for employment daily and that also says much about the economy in Lake Como.
Getting from one town to another is simple with the often and punctual ferry schedules and each town is approximately 15 minutes to 30 minutes away from one another. Homemade rustic Italian food with fresh seafood and freshly made pastas, you really can’t go wrong. You can find simple Nonna-style food to the chic plated-up elegant cuisine and they’re still as fresh as catch of the day.
I stayed in one of the hotels here and I do believe it fancies the perfect balance of quiet entertainment. With gardens, cathedrals, shops, restaurants and cafes it’s the place to be to unwind. Giardini di Villa Melzi is possibly one of the highlights of that town and if I wasn’t so tired that day, I probably would’ve explored more of the garden. Walk up the flight of cobblestone steps and stop along the way to shop or get a glass of local wine as you soak up the country side atmosphere. Every nook and crany, I was met with an understated historical beauty.
One of my favourite towns to visit, Varenna is host to the iconic pastel color rural village with ‘off-the-beaten-track’ walkways to cafes, shops and Castello di Vezio. Yes, you heard me right, a castle. Unfortunately time waits for no man and I had to stop my walk halfway through to the castle and I couldn’t live my princess dream. Next time though.
Host to the biggest residential area (that I’ve seen in Como), backpackers and hostel go-ers reside there as the cheaper option. But in the midst of the quiet town, lays a mini esplanade with shops, bars, cafes, restaurants and delis. A church sat atop a hill overlooking the town with the ring of the church bell echoeing every so often magnifies the truly peaceful ambience.
This was the first town I visited and Villa Carlotta is located in Tremezzo but you can get a ferry that drops off here. It’s a beautiful 70,000m square villa built in 1745. Host to art pieces and historical artefacts, every single nook of the villa from the flooring to the ceiling is extremely gorgeously detailed.
This alluring peninsula of charming towns left me wanting more. Had I known the expansive beauty this place holds, I would have dedicated a longer stay here. A slow-paced stay where I could venture off to different places each day on my own time. Maybe next time. Definitely next time.