Imagine a magical place, where Roman infrastructures, medieval buildings, and a modern Mitteleuropean charm are cradled by the blue waters of the fanciest lake in the world. A place that is so enchanting that actors, movie directors, and personalities from all over the world cannot help but surrender to its irresistible call.
The materialization of this dream is the town of Como. Considered the “capital” of the lake as well as a strategic point to access its marvels, it will transform your holiday into a unique experience: history, culture, exclusive accommodations, and fine restaurants and bars among others, all located in a town where everything is at walking distance, and so relaxed you will forget what the word “stress” means.
So grab a drink and sit back: we’ll take you on a trip to Como with us, and we guarantee that it will be just a matter of time before you will find yourself sitting on its lakefront and delighted to be there.
How to get to Como
Reaching Como will be as easy as taking a walk in the park. The privileged starting point is obviously Milan:
A warmly suggested option. Hop onto the subway (green or red lines) or catch a Malpensa Express straight from the airport, get off at the station of Milano Cadorna and, from there, catch the first train heading to the station of Como Lago (you can find the timetable here). In one hour and for €4,80 (kids up to 14 yo benefit from a 50% discount), you’ll be admiring the shores of Lake Como. Alternatively, you can depart from the railway station of Milano Centrale: for exactly the same fare, you will be able to catch one of the 2 trains per hour heading to the Swiss town of Chiasso. Get off at the station of Como S. Giovanni et voilà: in about 45 minutes your adventure is served.
One doesn’t need to be a fan of Willie Nelson to feel the urge of being on the road again. If that’s your case, cheer up. Your holidays in Como will be easily accessible with your car, 1 hour of travel, and €4,50 of toll fares: just take the highway A9/E35, put on your favorite travel tunes, and, without even realizing it, you will find yourself in paradise.
LCE tip: we strongly advise against getting into your car between 8.00 – 10.00 am and 5.45 – 7.45 pm. Milan’s rush hour can be tough even on the most seasoned travelers.
Did you know? If today you can run your car or power any of your favorite electronic devices, you should be thankful for one “comasco”: both the battery and the methane were discovered on the shores of Lake Como, between the 18th and the 19th century, by the Italian physician Alessandro Volta.
Como is a commune in Lombardy, Italy. The surrounding hills were inhabited since the Bronze Age, but it was with Roman domination that the town flourished. Julius Cesar himself oversaw its planning, shaping it into the typical grid of perpendicular streets that the city center maintains today.
During the Middle Ages Como was tormented by conflicts between independent cities, during which Julius built several defensive towers around the perimeter of the city. After undergoing much foreign domination (Spaniards, French, Austrians), Napoleon conquered the town and governed it until the XIX century, before handing it back to Austrian domination.
In 1859, Como was conquered by Giuseppe Garibaldi and annexed to the newborn Regno d’Italia; almost a century later, Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator, escaped towards Switzerland. After taking shelter in the town, he tried to pass the border in the northern regions of Lake Como. However, he was captured and executed by the partisans.
Did you know? Many famous people have or have had homes on the shores of Lake Como, such as Matthew Bellamy, Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho, Sylvester Stallone…you might have an unexpected encounter while queuing at the bakery.
Things to do in Como
Como’s urban landscape is characterized by tokens of different historical periods, whispering in your ear stories of powerful lords, opulent clergymen, foreign invasions, and flourishing arts and crafts. Nonetheless, Como will also satisfy all the travelers with a careful eye for the latest trends; there’s something to suit everybody’s fancy!
Travel through time by visiting downtown. When entering Como’s historical center, you will literally bounce between historical eras. The peripheral walls date back to Roman domination, and you’ll likely find yourself strolling on the same streets where Julius Cesar and his army once used to march. The walls are spaced out by towers, watching over Como’s downtown since the Middle Age. The most famous one is Torre di Porta Vittoria: walking underneath its imposing threshold will have a solemn taste.
The next landmark you can’t miss is Basilica S. Fedele, located in a picturesque square. The church was built back in 1120, and you’ll be stunned by how well it’s still preserved. You will be welcome to visit the Basilica for free, but keep in mind that your shoulders should be covered and, if you are wearing shorts, they’d have to be…well, not too short.
LCE tip: you loved Como’s medieval taste, and you are hungry for more? Then a little detour might be just right for you. At just 10 minutes walking from Porta Torre, you will find the 1000 years old church of St. Abbondio. It’s famous for its twin steeples and its cloister, nowadays, a branch of the university.
After Piazza San Fedele and its Basilica, we recommend walking through the fancy street of Via Vittorio Emanuele, a hub of fashion and local craftsmanship. The alley is embraced by luxurious boutiques, in which you will be able to satisfy your thirst for any Italian brand you can think of.
Just like a wormhole, Via Vittorio Emanuele will lead you to Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”). You are now filling up your lungs with the air of prosperity and creativity, the same one you could breathe between 1300 and 1500 when the Duomo was built. We recommend entering and feasting your eyes on its vaults and stained-glass windows, as well as on the adjacent Broletto, the palace hosting the city’s institutions back in the centuries. The Duomo is open to visiting weekdays from 10.30 am to 5.00 pm, and holidays from 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm.
Just behind the Duomo, you will find the Teatro Sociale, a little jewel of culture and neoclassical architecture from the XIX century, and the worldwide- famous Casa del Fascio, a masterpiece of rationalist architecture by Giuseppe Terragni.
Finally, a little touch of contemporary beauty: be thrilled by Life Electric, a renowned sculpture by the famous architect Daniel Libeskind. It’s located at the end of Diga Foranea, a walkable dam mirroring itself in the waters of Lake Como. When Life Electric will reveal itself to your eyes, you just won’t resist the temptation of reaching it.
LCE Tip: let’s imagine: one day you wake up in Como and you realize you’d love to see the lake from a different perspective. So you hop onto your private helicopter and, after a thrilling fly above the lake, you are starving. Fortunately, a Michelin-starred chef is already cooking something just for you. At sunset, finally, you decide to surprise your partner with a private boat ride on the lake, sipping the finest local wine. Impossible? Hard to organize? Not anymore! Get in touch with us for our customized experiences: you’ll just tell us what you desire, and we’ll make it happen.
Take a walk along Viale Lino Gelpi: walk past a series of palaces and villas, lush flower beds, and birds from the lake lazily swimming just beside you. You will have the chance to admire Villa Saporiti and Villa Gallia before arriving at the marvelous Villa Olmo, featuring a public garden that will be a pure delight for your Instagram stories. A suggestion: just walk underneath one of the arches of the villa, you will find a secluded portion of the park usually attended by locals, a perfect place for some Italian romance.
Catch a funicular to Brunate: it’s not a train, a bus, or a tram, but for €5.70 and every 30 minutes it will take you up to the village of Brunate, perched on the mountains towering over Lake Como. From there, you’ll be able to amaze yourself with the most breathtaking view: from the lake, Switzerland, and Milan…up to Monte Rosa, at the border with France.
For the foodies: Pop into the Hemingway Bar, a sacred temple of cocktail mixology, or stop by the Riva Cafè to enjoy the biggest aperitivo you’ve ever seen. If you just can’t decide where to start indulging, our Food and Wine Tours will satisfy all your deepest culinary fetishes. Check them out!
Where to eat in Como
Lake Como is quite different from any other Italian location. However, when it comes to food, it has nothing to envy the rest of Italy. Our selection of restaurants will make your taste buds chant in pure delight:
I Tigli in Theoria: One doesn’t earn a Michelin star easily. You’ll get to know the true reason why at the moment you’ll walk through the door of I Tigli in Theoria, hosted in a mansion from the ‘400s. You will be guided through a sophisticated culinary exploration, thanks to a magic mix between specialties from Lake Como and ingredients from distant lands.
Feel Como: In the beating heart of the old town, Feel Como will make you literally feel the taste of woods, waters, and mountains. Chef Federico and the manager & sommelier Elisa will open the exclusive doors of their sanctuary to just 16 people at a time, capturing them with a symphony of unexpected sensations: once back home, Lake Como will be surely in your heart and mind, but also on your palate.
La Colombetta: A family matter with a touch of innovation. La Colombetta is one of the historical fine restaurants of Como, born thanks to the vision of three sisters who, in the ‘80s, moved to Lake Como from the island of Sardinia. Almost 40 years later, their restaurant is one of the most prestigious in all the area, combining an intimate atmosphere with the best Sardinian specialties. A little incentive for you: Robert De Niro, The Edge, and George Clooney won’t fail to visit La Colombetta at least once a year.
Figli dei Fiori Bistro: imagine a place where the delicacies in your plate and the interior of the premises talk to each other, in a harmony of flowers, plants, innovation, and meticulous attention to detail. You’ll find all this and much more at I Figli dei Fiori Bistro. Regional recipes are wisely merged with new influences from all over the world, in a triumph of taste that you will never forget.
Where to sleep in Como
A hard day of relaxation and discovery is over, and you’ll just probably just want to be immersed in coziness. Here’s a little anthology of our favorite accommodations in Como; read it at your own risk, though, as once you will have experienced the warm hospitality of its hotels, you might have a hard time going back home.
Hotel Vista Palazzo: A sumptuous experience of which you will be the absolute protagonist. Hotel Vista Palazzo is the only 5-star hotel in Como and, on top of its unrivaled luxury, homelike atmosphere, and fine design, it will award you with the greatest of gifts: the best sunset view available in town. Are you dreaming yet?
Hotel Villa Flori: Imagine sipping your morning cappuccino, with a light breeze caressing your face and the sun waving at you from above the Lake. Hotel Villa Fiori is a synonym of magnificence, thanks to its unique position and the majestic terrace, which will give you the impression, literally, of floating on the lake. You will experience the tranquility of an ashram, less than 10 minutes from town.
Hilton Lake Como: A name that, anywhere in the world, rhymes with hospitality. Hilton Lake Como is a synonym of comfort and opulence anywhere in the world, especially in the magical atmosphere that dwells around your favorite lake shores.
Palazzo Albricci Peregrini: Your Renaissance dream came true. Palazzo Albricci Peregrini was built in the XV century, and it has preserved all its ancient look and fascination: you will feel like a real lord/lady, but with all the modern perks that the Galli family will be happy to offer you.