There’s just something about Lake Como. Perhaps it’s simply because it laps gently against Bellaggio, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Or perhaps it’s the cobblestone streets or the view of the glittering water from breathtaking terraces and cliffs. It’s located a mere half-hour from Milan, but it seems more like you’ve crossed the world. The frantic pace of Milan is quickly forgotten here, where the people are as mellow and calm as the landscape.
But Lake Como is more than views. It’s a place where you can lose yourself in the beauty and old-world charm that surround you in every espadrilled step. And, if you go at the right time, you can immerse yourself in an entirely different personality, completely appropriate for the surprisingly Mediterranean scene.
To the north of the Lake you’ll find Como’s sole island, Isola Comacina. The weekend after June 24, take the ferry over to the island to celebrate St. John’s Day. The celebration consists of a mass within the ruins of the S. Eufemia basilica, followed by a procession, party and fireworks where all who participate are rather elaborately costumed.
To the south, you’ll find Bellagio, ‘la Perla del Lago,’ (the pearl of the lake.) This is a town filled with colorful, hidden corridors, cobblestone streets and amazing homes and villas lining the ridge of the lake. You’ll find plenty of shade here, but a ride on a boat docked just minutes from all accommodations will allow you to relax and bask happily as the sun rays coddle you gently as you rock gracefully in the warm waters of Lago di Como. This is especially peaceful at sunset when you can watch the sun fall and meld into a haze before the sharp rise of night.
One of the best ways to explore Lake Como is by bicycle. The easy lakeside terrain allows an average of 25 miles per day, allowing you to stop along the way to sample real Italian ice cream (try Trese, located on the east side of Bellagio, for a real treat). Or, if you’re looking for a more challenging ride and hike, climb the empirical Mont Generoso, which is a difficult but extremely rewarding climb. The views lend themselves to an afternoon or evening of romance, but be warned: You’re not going to find food where you’re hiking. My suggestion is to pack a lunch or dinner with groceries from local markets in Bellagio or Varenna and picnic above the water.
If you stop in Varenna to pick up food, look around: This is an area infamous for the public displays of affection by its lovers. The ferries come and go from Varenna’s local beach, bringing and taking people away but leaving plenty of time for quiet reflection. After the sunset (where you’ll find the beach filled with couples madly in love), take a stroll down the passerella (the lakeside walkway). There, you’ll find the path dotted with couples whispering passionately and lovingly as they scurry along, stopping occasionally for a grope and a desperate kiss.
Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet or romance and a party, Lake Como as something for you. Daily activities also include minor water sports and trips along the old roads in cable cars. If you’re looking to escape it all, Lake Como can accommodate you.