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Lake Como (or Lago di Como as it is known in Italian) has been attracting aristocrats, artists, and other well-heeled visitors from across Europe for centuries. These days, the area retains its sense of glamour and is famous for its celebrity residents such as George Clooney, Madonna, and Sylvester Stallone, as well as for its starring role in a host of movies, including the James Bond film Casino Royale.
Situated in the Italian region of Lombardy, in the foothills of the Alps, the Y-shaped lake covers 56 square miles, making it the third largest lake in Italy. With Milan just over 50 miles away, the lake is easily reachable by either train or car, so we would recommend flying into one of the Milanese airports, or to the nearby town of Bergamo. Famed for its pleasant microclimate, Lake Como offers great weather for most of the year, but the area is at its best from April to October. The largest city on the lake is Como, but don’t miss the smaller towns such as Bellagio, Varenna, Tremezzo, and Lecco, which have just as much to offer in terms of good looks and charm.
It might seem obvious, but there’s no better way to discover Lake Como than from the water. The ferry service, which has been running since 1826, is the easiest way to get to from one town to another. Simply hop on, enjoy the scenery, and hop off once you reach your destination. If you’d rather explore the lake on your own schedule, then head to one of the numerous boat rental companies who will happily provide you with a motorboat—Luxury Retreats can organize this for you. For those who are feeling especially adventurous, why not try your hand at some watersports? Kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing and jet skiing are all popular pastimes among locals and visitors alike.
Of all the beautiful villas that pepper the shores of Lake Como, Villa Carlotta is perhaps the most spectacular. Built in the town of Tremezzo at the end of the 17th century by a rich Milanese senator named Giorgio Clerici, Villa Carlotta is famous for its collection of art and neoclassical furniture, as well as for its stunning botanical gardens. Spread over twenty acres, the garden is home to ancient trees and palms, as well as colorful rhododendrons and azaleas. To see Villa Carlotta at its best, plan your visit in springtime when the blossom season will be in full swing.
Lake Como is surrounded by the Alps, and while the snow-capped peaks certainly make for a beautiful backdrop, they also provide visitors with the opportunity to see the lake and its surrounding landscape from a different perspective. For those who would rather save their energy for a stroll around the town, take the funicular which runs from the city of Como to the picturesque town of Brunate some 1600 feet higher. From there, take a short thirty-minute hike to Faro Voltiano, a lighthouse perched high above the hills, where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views. Seasoned hikers, on the other hand, will be able to take advantage of the area’s beautiful trails.
There are plenty of pretty towns surrounding Lake Como, but the former fishing village of Varenna stands out as especially charming. Situated on the eastern shore of the lake, opposite the towns of Menaggio and Tremezzo, and just across from the Bellagio peninsula, Varenna occupies one of the lake’s most beautiful locations. With brightly colored homes and a romantic lakeside boardwalk, a trip to Varenna offers a peek at what Lake Como was like before it became the glitzy destination it is today. Once you’ve seen all the town has to offer, be sure to check out the gardens of the Villa Cipressi and the Villa Monastero, as well as the nearby Vezio Castle. Reachable via car, or via a steep hike, Vezio Castle offers fantastic views and even the occasional falconry show.
For the perfect lakeside lodging, look no further than our selection of luxurious villas in Bellagio and Como.
Situated at the tip of a V-shaped peninsula in the center of Lake Como, Bellagio is probably the best known of all the towns on Lake Como, and it is certainly one of the most beautiful. Otherwise known as ‘the Pearl of the Lake’, it is easy to lose yourself among the cobbled streets of Bellagio, which are packed with quaint shops and old-fashioned wine bars. The town also boasts a number of fabulous lakefront villas that are open to the public, including the majestic Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni, as well as churches that date back to the 11th century. While ourBellagio villas are a little more modern, they offer fantastic views of the lake, spacious living areas and first-class amenities – everything you need to enjoy Lake Como in luxury.
With regular trains travelling to and from Milan in just over 30 minutes, the city of Como is the perfect base from which to explore the lake and the wider Lombardy region. But Como has much more to offer than just its convenient location: the origins of this historic city can be traced back to Roman times, and the Gothic cathedral, or duomo, dates back to the 14th century. Como also offers plenty of modern charm by way of restaurants, shops, and a bustling waterfront promenade. Our selection ofComo rentals sleep from 6-20 guests, and range from sleek and modern to opulent and traditional. Whether you’re vacationing with friends and family, or even planning a celebration, you’re sure to find the perfect place.