Gardens and woods; inlets and valleys; the blue of the lake and the green of the vegetation; prestigious villas and medieval villages: Lake Como is one of the wonders of northern Italy.
More: it is one of the wonders of the world, a destination, for many years now, of an international tourism with mind-boggling numbers.
It takes time, and some insider tips, to discover it all. But if you only have a weekend, you can start from the Centro Lario, the area that extends around the municipalities of Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio and Tremezzina.
Elegant accommodation in this boutique designer hotel with an infinity pool, private beach and a waterfront setting on the shores of Lake Como.
If you're into the whole history thing or want to pretend you're a nineteenth-century nobleman, this is the place for you.
Villa Monastero in Varenna was a female monastery turned into a residence in the 1600s.
The villa has a botanical garden that's over 2 km long, as well as a house museum with all the original furnishings. You can check out furniture from different eras and places, like oriental pieces or those made by Venetian and Lombard craftsmen. Plus, there are cool extras like walls covered in leather or the fireplace made out of rare black marble from Varenna
The magnificent Villa Carlotta, which Stendhal and Gustave Flaubert loved, is on the other side of the lake in Tremezzo. It was built at the end of the 1600s and has been through many ups and downs with different families. It was most splendid in the nineteenth century, when the owner, Giambattista Sommariva, enriched it with wonderful works of art.
Villa del Balbianello was built in 1787 on the ruins of an old Franciscan monastery by Cardinal Durini.
The Villa is in a great spot on the Laveno Promontory, the only promontory of Lake Como, and there are well-kept gardens all around it.
The village of Ossuccio in Tremezzina, of Romanesque origin, still has churches and historical artefacts clearly visible.
Just look up and you'll see the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary above the town. A reference point for the faithful, art enthusiasts, or anyone who loves beauty and tranquility.
In 2003, the Sacro Monte and the 14 chapels of the Rosary located along the path to the Sanctuary were awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
There are real treasure chests of ancient art hidden right here between the mountains and the lake.
Take the boat and go to Varenna, an ancient fishing village which, even if refurbished, has not lost its authentic flavour. From the Varenna pier, take the scenic route Route 65 Passo Agueglio (best done in the afternoon, when the sun reflects on the lake), and stop at the Castello di Vezio, a medieval building.
Here you admire the landscape: you will see Bellagio, the two branches of the lake that join, the promontory of the beautiful Villa del Balbianello and the mountain ranges that surround the area. The Castle houses a falconry, and it is not uncommon to see a falcon exhibition.
The Como-Brunate funicular was inaugurated in 1894. Brunate became a famous holiday resort at the turn of the 19th-20th century, and developed rapidly as a tourist destination because of its magnificent panoramas, healthy air, and excursions to the mountains behind. Lots of grand, Art Nouveau-style villas from that golden age are still around.
The first panoramic point is a few minutes from the funicular station - follow the "Belvedere" signs. From here, you can see the city of Como, the Roman streets, the first basin of the lake, the Po valley, and part of the Alps.
The Pigra cableway, one of the steepest in Italy, opened in 1971. It connects Argegno to the small mountain village in just 4 minutes, overcoming a height difference of 648 metres.
Two cabins for 12 people each alternate along a path with slopes ranging from 71% to 95%. This allows you to enjoy a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding mountains, until you finally reach the most beautiful existing terrace in the Como foothills.
The Greenway of Lake Como is the most popular choice, because it's suitable for everyone and can be walked in all seasons. The route goes from Colonno to Cadenabbia, is about 10 km long, and crosses the municipalities of Colonno, Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, Tremezzo and Griante, following at times the ancient via Regina.
You can walk the whole thing (about 3 and a half hours) or just do part of it and return by bus or boat. The great thing about this walk is that you cross villages and get amazing views of the lake.
Like what you see? Tell us your wishes and we'll create the perfect holiday for you and your loved ones, at the time of year you prefer, and make you live the experiences you've always dreamed of.