We left Trento and headed west to Lake Como. Our travel agent suggested we stay in the city of Como, which is at the southern tip of the lake. After the small, non-touristy town of Trento, Como was quite the busy city! We stayed at Hotel Terminus, which was right across the street and a few blocks down from the ferry terminal. Ferry proximity proved to be very important as we traveled up the lake a few times to other towns.
On our first full day on the lake, we traveled to the town of Bellagio. We chose to take the fast ferry and I highly recommend that in order to save time. Upon arriving in Bellagio, we walked through the town, taking pictures, and eating gelato (of course!). While we didn’t eat at a restaurant in Bellagio, we stopped at quite a few shops. Many shops featured Venetian glass, but since we had already been to Venice, we didn’t purchase anything. Here are a few of my favorite pics:
From the town, we walked along the lakefront to Villa Melzi. It was only a few dollars to enter and well worth it. While you can’t go in the actual house, the gardens are gorgeous and just fun to walk through and enjoy.
Upon returning to Como (again, on the fast ferry), we wandered through the town visiting buildings such as the Como Cathedral. Our dinner at La vita è bella was delicious and had amazing tiramisu. I love that the restaurants in Italy have extensions of the restaurant in these air conditioned/heated buildings next to the actual restaurant.
On our second full day in Como, we overslept and had to take the regular ferry up the lake, aka the extremely slow ferry. While it is cheaper than the fast ferry, the price difference isn’t worth it. I felt that we wasted so much time just sitting on a boat, bouncing from one side of the lake from the other. Because of time limitations, we didn’t get to visit places such as the Villa de Balbianello. Here are some of the pictures from our journey up the lake.
We got off the ferry in the town of Lenno, as we planned to walk the Lake Como Greenway to Tremezzo. This is a great way to see the lake, get some exercise and enjoy the quaint countryside between towns. It’s a lot of up and down as you weave through streets and between houses, but well worth it.
Once we got into Tremezzo, we stopped for pizza at a restaurant along the water and saw sights such as the Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta. Because we still had another hike ahead of us, we did not stop to tour the Villa Carlotta. I had read about some great hikes in Griante and wanted to make sure we had plenty of time. So, we continued our hike along the lake to Griante and never…found… the hike. We didn’t find signs of any kind noting these hikes and there certainly weren’t any marked trails. Needless to say, being the less adventurous types, we weren’t going to head into the hills without a plan. Sad to say, we never found the Griante hikes or the church of San Martino. We ended up continuing along the road (at times very busy) to Menaggio where we caught the slow ferry (again!) back to Como.
Our last day in Como was amazing, and let me tell you why. We had debated driving to Switzerland for the day but decided to head up the Brunate Funicular instead. I’m so glad we did because the views from the Volta tower above the town were AH-MAZING! Let me back up a bit. The Brunate Funicular is in Como and tickets are inexpensive. Be prepared to pack into a small car with lots of noisy, smelly tourists as you make your way up the mountain. Upon arriving in the tiny town of Brunate, there were a few restaurants, a church and some vendors selling touristy items. From there you hiked up another hill for about 30 – 40 minutes. Beware – this is not a hike for the faint-hearted. While it’s completely do-able, it is steep at times and you are clambering over a lot of cobblestone streets. I saw several families pushing strollers up the hill and I don’t know how they did it! Upon arriving at the lighthouse, there’s a viewing platform, and/or you can pay two euros to climb to the top of the lighthouse. My husband, who is afraid of heights, hung out at the bottom but I made my way up to the top. As you will see in the pictures below, the views are breathtaking and were well worth the climb.
After making our way back into Como, we spent the rest of the day relaxing, shopping and even walked over to Villa Olmo. While the gardens were under renovation, it was a cool house to walk through and neat to see how people lived in the olden days.
My only negative comment about Como is that I wish I had had access to a pool. I even looked into going to a public/private pool but decided it was too much of a hassle. I think it would have been amazing to lounge in a pool while looking over the lake. There are a few hotels that offer these, so if pools are on your radar, I suggest looking into those.
Overall, Lake Como is a place you definitely need to visit at least once in your lifetime. Be prepared for lots of ferry travel but lots of beautiful homes and mountain views.