Lake Como - an Italian classic of global tourism Featured

A treasure-trove of landscapes, architecture and lakeside villages of centennial enchantment
by 13 April 2011

An expanse of blue water, rippled by the caress of a soft breeze from the Alps. A cruise over the whole distance of Lake Como takes just five hours in a steamboat that slowly zigzags along its forested banks. Como, Cernobbio, Tremezzo and Bellagio are just some of the dreamy towns on the shores of Lake Como, forever popular amongst international visitors, and testaments to the long history and legacy of the region. They provide an interesting introduction to the finest points of Italian lifestyle...

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Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni
Villa d'Este

Silk City
Como has always had a dual identity, an industrial town on one hand, and a unique tourist destination on the other, with its superb natural setting. Even though it is the principal city on the lake, it is still the enchanting location that it was centuries ago when it was discovered and conquered by the Ancient Romans. From that time on, visitors have continued to arrive here, attracted by the landscapes, the pleasant climate, its manufacturing specialities, and its connections to Italian literature – principally the book "I Promessi Sposi" by Alessandro Manzoni.

The city has long been famous for silk manufacture. There is a college dedicated to silk, with an annexed museum, Museo Didattico della Seta, open for visits (Via Valleggio 3, Tel. +39 031 303 180, open Tuesday to Friday from 9am to noon and from 3pm to 6pm – open on Saturday by reservation only).
For products in silk, a centrally-located store is In Seta, Piazza Cavour 8-11, open every day 9 a.m.- 7 p.m., except on Sunday when it is open 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Tel. +39 03 12 63 537

Scenes from Times Past

Bellagio offers visitors a picturesque setting, with some first class hotels and restaurants. The village dates back to Roman times, but it was the 19th century that saw its real boom as a tourist destination. During that time, many villas and gardens were constructed for the wealthy to host their distinguished guests, and as a place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

One of the most famous villas is Villa Serbelloni, surrounded by an immense park which includes 18 kilometres of paths, meandering amongst the rare and exotic plants that grow in the gardens and terraces sloping down towards the lake. Two guided tours are run every day, at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Piazza della Chiesa 14, Bellagio
Tel. +39 031 951 555
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Another fine lakeside jewel is Villa Melzi d'Eril, which was built in 1808 for Duke Francesco Melzi d'Eril, dignitary in the Napoleonic administration. The Villa is in Neoclassical style, and it is surrounded by a lovely park that was the first landscaped garden in Como. The Villa's owner, Count Gallarati Scotti, is a descendant of the Melzi family. He opens the park to visitors from March through October each day from 9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.

Lungolario Manzoni, Bellagio
Tel. +39 339 457 3838
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Meals fit for a King

Taste the best Italian cooking has to offer at one of Lake Como's most historic palaces. Villa D'Este is a Renaissance building, location of a superb hotel and the Ristorante La Veranda. The restaurant stocks over 500 of the most prestigious wines from Italy and abroad. The Terrace Bar offers a relaxing setting where guests sit under majestic chestnut trees with an aroma of jasmine floating through the air. The Italian aperitif ritual takes on a totally different dimension here, with a stunning view of Lake Como in all its splendour.

The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni was listed as of one of the Top 100 Hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveller. It offers its guests a getaway unlike any other. It houses two restaurants directed by Chef Ettore Bocchia, an Italian expert specializing in molecular cuisine. Terrazza Serbelloni, as the name suggests, has an elegant terrace running alongside the lake, while Mistral provides a more informal dining experience by the pool.

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