Lake District, Italy

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The North Italian Lakes: Lake Como

Straddling the border between Italy and Switzerland on the southern side of the Alps, the Italian Lakes are blessed with a mellow sub-tropical microclimate that makes visiting a pleasure at almost any time of year. A fashionable retreat since Roman times and an obligatory staging post for the gentry making the Grand Tour of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, the region remains a summer playground of choice for well-heeled Italians and for discerning visitors from many parts of the world.

In the shelter of the surrounding mountains, the sparkling waters stretch off into the distance, while ferries and other craft ply to and fro between the small towns and villages, with their superb lakeside villas and grand hotels ringed by luxuriant gardens. Many of today’s celebrities, including Richard Branson and George Clooney, have owned villas on Lake Como for many years, while other villas are now boutique hotels, combining old-world luxury with contemporary comfort.

From west to east the most popular lakes are Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano (two-thirds of which is in Switzerland), Lake Como, Lake Iseo and Lake Garda. Lake Como is perhaps the epitome of this enchanting region. The elegant shops, cafés and restaurants in the town of Como are frequented by more locals than tourists, while the old fishing villages such as Varenna and Menaggio retain an authentic laid-back charm.

Bellagio is one of the most popular small towns, superbly sited on a promontory between two branches of the lake, and it remains one of the north of Italy’s most delightful spots, with a beautiful lakeside promenade, lovely gardens, rainbow-colored villas and several fin-de-siècle hotels that evoke the pleasures of a bygone era. If you only have time to visit one lake, Como should be your choice.

Driving on the winding roads around the lake shore can be challenging, so best to explore by boat, where travel is effortless and the views are ever-changing as you take in the slowly shifting choreography of gleaming water, forest clad mountains and bright skies.

Lake Como Must-Dos and Can’t-Misses…

  • Italian Gardens and Villa visits – Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, Villa Balbianello near Lenno, Villa d’Este in Como and Villa Melzi in Bellagio all on Lake Como.
  • Silk Factories and Outlets – Ratti Silk Factory outside of Como.
  • Milan to see Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church and a full day of shopping.
  • Mountain biking and hiking the many trails and paths surrounding the lake.

Lake Como for Kids…

  • Boating, kayaking, water skiing and water surfing on Lake Como.
  • Zipline and activities park at Jungle Raider Park near Bellagio.
  • Visit to Medieval castles – Porta Torre and Baradello Castle in Como and Vezio Castle in Perledo that today is a bird of prey breeding, nursing and training center.
  • Ride the funicular from Como to Brunate – in operation since 1894.
  • Day trip to Gardalandia on Lake Garda – Italy’s largest fun park.
  • And of course – GELATO!

Villa Del Lago

Welcomes guests to Lake Como with old-world style and all modern comforts

Bedrooms: 5Bathrooms: 5Children: YesMax Occupancy: 10