Every year many visitors come from all over the world to see Lake Como, its villages, its period villas, its gardens and its panoramic views that are unique in the world. That's why we should visit this piece of paradise. There are many places that you can visit, depending on your interests and the time you have available. We have selected ten (there would be many more, however) that we absolutely advise you not to miss.
Varenna, the village of lovers
This delightful village in the province of Lecco was once a fishing village. Today its historic center has a splendid artistic heritage. The beating heart of the village is its central square, overlooked by the Church of San Giorgio. The building, dating back to the 13th century, was built on the foundations of an ancient Roman temple. Walking along the narrow streets that branch off from the historic center of Varenna, we arrive close to the lake and we are fascinated by Villa Monastero (point 10): a suggestive architectural complex from the 16th century, it was once a convent of Cistercian nuns. But the most romantic place in Varenna is undoubtedly the Lovers' Walk: a short arched metal walkway, covered with climbing plants which, in the hottest months, turns into a riot of colors and scents.
Villa del Balbianello
It is located in Lenno, on the western shore of the lake, where the coastal area called Costa della Tremezzina begins. Villa del Balbianello, which looks like it came out of a Hollywood film, is a FAI Property and is the most visited in Italy as it is one of the most spectacular and scenographic residences on Lake Como. Definitely the strong point of the villa is its huge garden. The daring prunings, such as the umbrella pruning of the great holm oak, are a real show. And then the Loggia Durini, the monumental arched structure decorated with an inlaid wind rose and embraced by a Ficus Repens (where a famous scene from "Star Wars" was filmed), and the Darsena, the small port carved out of the rocks (which lucky enough to arrive at Villa del Balbianello on board a boat will be able to try a truly exclusive experience). Inside the villa is the Shipping Museum.
Bellagio, the village between the two branches of Lake Como
An enchanting tourist and cultural destination, Bellagio is famous for its truly exclusive geographical position: the village is located on the northern end of the Larian Triangle, right where the two branches of Lake Como branch off. The ancient village, where suggestive period houses follow one another, is crossed by alleys and characteristic cobbled stairways overlooked by colorful craft shops and many typical cafes. On the lakefront there are restaurants and small bars where you can stop on sunny days to admire the view and taste the local specialties. One of the unmissable activities in Bellagio is the boat tour. The headland tour lasts 20 minutes. Who wishes. can reach the opposite bank in the equally delightful hamlet of Varenna.
Villa Carlotta, one of the most beautiful historic houses that can be visited in Italy, is located in Tremezzo, in the province of Como, and overlooks the lake directly, with a view of the picturesque village of Bellagio, from which it can be reached by motorboat. The view from the villa and the gardens is wonderful and the colors of the flowering leave you breathless. Not surprisingly, it is often chosen as a wedding location, also for the panoramic terrace overlooking the lake. Villa Carlotta welcomes visitors with its magnificent botanical park and its rooms full of masterpieces of art: it is a place of rare beauty, here masterpieces of nature and human ingenuity coexist harmoniously in 70,000 square meters of gardens and museum structures. The park of Villa Carlotta (about 8 hectares that can be visited) is a place of great charm, not only for its particularly happy panoramic position, but also for the harmonious coexistence of styles, the richness of essences, the literary suggestions that make it an unmissable destination for those arriving on Lake Como. Inside there are works by Antonio Canova and paintings by Hayez.
Nesso, the village with the waterfall
In this village, nature is one with the houses. Nesso is known for its famous and incredible gorge, a natural and deep gorge carved into the rock that characterizes the entire territory. It rises exactly on the point of union between the two streams Tud and Nosé which, from this fusion, create the homonymous waterfall that makes this place unique. This spectacular natural gorge, born from the deep fracture in the rock, explodes in a waterfall with a jump of over 200 meters which divides the small village into two parts, which Leonardo da Vinci, in the "Codex Atlanticus", described as "incredible". But the village of Nesso also preserves among its picturesque streets an enchanting architectural heritage to discover. From a long and steep stone staircase that runs alongside the colored houses that characterize the village of Nesso, you arrive at the ancient Ponte della Civera, from which you can admire the waterfall.
A wonderful example of neoclassical style, it is one of the most beautiful and fascinating buildings in Como. To enrich the pleasure of seeing the wonderful panorama that opens onto Lake Como. The villa takes its name from a wonderful centenary elm tree that stood out in the garden, which unfortunately no longer exists today. Over the years it has hosted numerous events, including the International Exhibition for the centenary of the death of Alessandro Volta, numerous congresses, shows and art exhibitions. Today Villa Olmo consists of a central body – where temporary exhibitions can often be visited – the northern side wing, the southern and northern casinos, the greenhouses, the tennis complex, the international hostel and the Lido, as well as the garden .
The name of Cadenabbia seems to derive from "Ca' dei Nauli" or "House of the Boatmen". In ancient times, in fact, in this locality there was an inn where the boatmen ("nauli") used to stop who, with their "comballi" (flat-bottomed merchant boats), transported goods and foodstuffs from Lecco and Como to the coastal towns . The fact is that, in the early 1800s, the first hotel for tourists was born from that ancient inn, the Locanda Cadenabbia, today the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia, but which then became the Grand Hotel Bellevue, hosting Emperors, Kings and Queens. For a long time Cadenabbia was one of the favorite places of the English who settled here and founded a community so important as to induce them to build an Anglican church, the first in Italy, consecrated in 1891. Here is located one of the most famous historic houses , Villa Carlotta
Villa Melzi d'Eril
It is one of the most beautiful historic buildings on the lake in one of the most fascinating villages: Bellagio (point 3). Located on the western coast of Lake Como, the villa is still inhabited and, therefore, only certain parts of it can be visited. Near this charming building it is possible to visit a small museum which houses numerous archaeological finds, paintings and ancient pottery. However, there is the possibility of visiting the enchanting garden. The immense green area of Villa Melzi houses finds of great artistic and historical value, including Egyptian statues and urns of Etruscan origin. The garden even houses a Venetian gondola, which arrived here in Bellagio at the behest of Napoleon. The whole park is dotted with statues, busts and works from different eras, which blend with the gardens and plants in an atmosphere of pure enchantment.
Corenno Plinio, the medieval village
There are very few inhabitants of Corenno Plinio: just 16 people, with only one restaurant and very few activities. It will also be this feeling of abandoning oneself to history and the past – in addition to the tranquility and absolute beauty of the place – that fascinates foreign tourists so much that they come here every week to enjoy the view of the lake and get lost in the narrow streets of the village. for a couple of years visitors have been asked to pay an entrance fee. Built on a Roman settlement and overlooking the lake, the particularity of this village (which owes its name to the Roman consul Caio Plinio who was born in Como and where he loved to stay) are the steps carved into the rock, so much so that today Corenno is also nicknamed the village of a thousand steps. It will be precisely by climbing them that you will breathe the true essence of Corenno and, when you arrive at the top of the medieval castle, with its walls and two crenellated towers, you will feel like taking a dive into the past. In this charming village there is also the old pier, at the bottom of the stairways. Here the fishermen's boats are still moored, but also those of the very few inhabitants.
In Varenna (point 1) there is one of the most interesting examples of a late 19th century eclectic-style residence. It was once a convent of Cistercian nuns. It overlooks Lake Como directly and is surrounded by a botanical garden of great scenic impact and symbolic value. It stands out, in addition to its beauty, for being one of the main historical-landscape-environmental sites in the area. Owned by the Province of Lecco, it extends along a narrow spit of land for about two kilometres. You can admire numerous and rare native and exotic tree species that today exceed 900 specimens.