Lake Como Things to Do
Much of the lake looks like it did to the Romantic poets and composers who gained much inspiration from its considerable beauty and tranquility during the 19th century. Though today the accommodations are more modern, the activities more numerous and the restaurants better. Lake Como is a wonderful place to spend a vacation.
In Cernobbio, just northwest of Como, is the Grand Hotel Villa d'Este that was built as a villa in the 16th century. This famous hotel has hosted many kings, queens, world leaders and Hollywood stars. The rooms are nearly museum galleries and whose grounds boast 's only floating swimming pools, as it actually sits atop the lake, plus an indoor pool, full spa facilities, beautiful gardens, and an excellent restaurant. The town of Cernobbio features a delightful collection of picturesque houses, narrow alleys, and great views of the lake and its environs.
Another lovely lakeside town on the western shore, there is a classic lakeside promenade, breathtaking views, as well as many wonderful old villas, some of which have been converted to hotels. "Grand Hotel" with Greta Garbo was turned here during the 1930s. Part of the one of the recent installments of the Star Wars saga was tuned in the Villa Balbianello. The shores of Tremezzo are filled with many beautiful villas including the Villa La Quite and Villa Carlotta, which takes its name from Princess Carlotta of the Netherlands who received it as a wedding gift from her mother in the 1850s. It contains sprawling gorgeous gardens, and a stately manor filled with mostly neoclassical artwork. From Tremezzo you can take a ferry over to Bellagio and Varenna, on the opposite shores.
Further north from Tremezzo, the small vilage of Menaggio has grand hotels, watersports, and excellent views, plus golf and is an excellent starting point for hikers. Monte Grona at 5,700 feet is readily accessible. From here are probably the best views of the lake and its surroundings. Climbing is also popular from Menaggio. For less adventurous there are watersports, mountain biking and an eighteen hole golf course.
Located at the top of the hilly Triangolo Lariano, that divides Lake Como into two legs, the "jewel of the lake", as Bellagio has been called, is one of the most beautiful town in Italy. Many even thold it is the most beautiful town in all of Europe. Its narrow cobbled streets, beautiful waterfront, breathtaking views of the lake, tree-filled hills and Alps, gorgeous homes and glorious villas make it a most enchanting spot to relax and recharge. It is enjoyable to explore the attractive surroundings on foot or by bike. Many other activities are easily accessible such as sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, horse riding and even badminton, courtesy of the long British association with the town.
Soon after opening to public in 1873, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni was considered one of the finest in Italy, with lavish amount spent to create a marvel of ornamentation. Enlarged over the years, it has seen more than its share of world leaders and celebrities. The current owner has renovated the property so that today the villa looks very much as it must have been a century or so ago.
Varenna is a very slow, unpretentious and relaxing town of about 800 people, located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It has the most convenient access of the any of the mid-lake towns. Varenna may be the most picturesque town on the lake, with a charming waterfront, steep winding alleys lined with charming homes, flowering balconies and lace-curtained windows. Just above the town is the ancient castle where Theodolinda, Queen of the Lombards, is said to have died in the 7th century. Two famous villas to visit here are Villa Cipressi, with terraced gardens cascading right down to the shores, and the attractive Villa Monastero. An ancient fishing village and a sedately elegant resort, Varenna is home to a short river, the Fiumelatte. Just over 830 feet long, it rushes, frothy and milk-white giving it its name, down the rocks and crashes into the lake. The river runs only from the end of March to the end of October each year, and then ceases. Leonardo da Vinci climbed down to find out where the water came from, but, with no luck.