After spending a week end on Lake Como, I understand why George Clooney decided to buy a villa right on this lake and ignored other locations: it’s nature, it’s heaven, it’s fine food and stylish international people. It’s just where you want to hide from everybody and everything and charge you batteries for a couple of days.
Celebrated by Alessandro Manzoni right at the beginning of “The Betrothed” (I Promessi Sposi in Italian), point of reference for naval internal transportations and commerce and extremely important for the silk and textile industry, Lake Como can be a nice idea for a 1 or 2-day excursion from Milan.
I visited a friend living and working in Como and I really got to experience the city and its surrounding like a local with insights and interesting tips about what to do and see. Are you ready?
Como historical center: Roman archeological sites, Romanic architecture, medieval alleyways, a Gothic Cathedral and plenty of Renaissance townhouses with charming façades.
Yes, to walk through Como is like to open a book of history of architecture. You can jump from the Roman Baths dating back to the I and II century AC in Viale Lecco to the Gothic Cathedral with 2 statues of Pliny The Elder and Pliny the Younger on the west facade (Guess what? They were both from Como!). If you keep on walking in the historical centre look for Via Vitani, one of Como’s alleyways to have retained most of the original Medieval features and where workshops and Medieval shops were to be found. Also, don’t miss the Basilica di San Fedele and the Portal of the Dragon on the side.
Lungolago Mafalda di Savoia, the Tempio Voltiano and the Life Electric
Como lies on the Lake Como also known as Lake Lario. To fully enjoy the lake you can take a cruise or walk along Lungolago Mafalda di Savoia from Piazza Cavour. While walking along the waterfront, you will come across several interesting places of interest, you shouldn’t miss such as the Tempio Voltiano, the only existing Mausoleum dedicated to a physicist, Alessandro Volta, the War Memorial and the Life Electric, a contemporary monument built right at the end of diga foranea Piero Caldirola in 2015 and also dedicated to Alessandro Volta.
Brunate, the Voltan lighthouse and the view on Como and part of the Lake
I don’t feel done with a city if I don’t get its shape and urban structure into my head. A trip to Brunate was a perfect idea to see Como from the top and enjoy the city as a whole. I’ve been told that with a clear sky you could even see the beginning of the Apennines, far on the horizon. You can reach Brunate by car or by funicular which is actually the best way to enjoy the views of the Alps. Once you get off the funicular, get ready for the last effort. A quite hard but worth it, up hill walk will take you to the Faro Voltiano, where to enjoy Como at its best from.
KM_C: Il Chilometro della Conoscenza
Translating into “The Miles of Knowledge” this is a pleasant stroll along the Western side of Lake Como. It’s ideal to enjoy not only the natural and leisure aspect of Lake Como but it introduces the visitor to some of most interesting villas on the Como Lake and their parks. This pedestrian experience allows exploring Villa Saporiti, Villa Olmi, all the way to Villa del Grumello, Villa Sucota and their parks.
Fine local food
I could not but indulge is some extraordinary local food; 2 are my pieces of advice: try “Nuvola” by Beretta, a soft cake shaped like a plumcake but soft like a colomba pasquale, with apricot jam and “Polenta Uncia“ by La Polentera in Brunate: it’s a mix of corn yellow flour and buckwheat black flour, cooked in boiled water and then in the oven, mixed with cheese, butter, garlic, and sage.
I totally suggest Como Lake for a week end getaway and a quiet break after having visited Milan, or on your way to Lugano and to Switzerland.