The Best of Italy's Lakes
14/07/2020 · By Katie Shaw
Italy's landscapes are truly spectacular; endless glittering coastline, ancient cities, rural regions filled with vineyards and olive groves, and of course, the lakes.Read more
Lago di Como (Lake Como) is the most famous of the Italian lakes, and for good reason. Its unique shape, which looks like an upside down 'Y', is surrounded by awe-inspiring views of magnificent mountains, deep valleys and clear waters that change beautifully from light green to dark blue shades.
Lake Como's shoreline is also scattered with picturesque villages that have been around since Roman times. There are also many villas on its shores with horticultural gardens that thrive thanks to the mild climate caused by the presence of the lake water.
The most famous of these gardens is the Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, which is over 70,000 square metres in size. The botanical garden has over 150 varieties of spring flower, as well as classic varieties of camellias and sequoias. There are also the Rock Garden and the Ferns Valley, the Rhododendrons Wood and the Bamboos Garden, an agricultural tools museum and the magnificent views on the lake to behold.
On Villa Carlotta's doorstep you will also find one of the most famous villages on Lake Como's shoreline, the luxurious Bellagio. A big draw for the rich and famous, it is filled with winding streets, lakeside restaurants and glasses of sparkling Prosecco.
Getting around on the ferries
During your free day, you may want to explore the wonders of Lake Como. The easiest way to get around is via a relaxing ferry cruise. Ferries are operated by Como-based company Navigazione Lago di Como. They operate year-round from the small pier at the northern end of Piazza Cavour. Single fares range from €1.80 (Como-Cernobbio) to €9.50 (Como-Lecco). There are other tickets available, including day cruises with lunch and admissions to numerous lakeside villas.
A history of Villa Carlotta
The history of Villa Carlotta is equally as captivating as its gardens. The stunning villa was built towards the end of the 17th century by the Milanese marquis Giorgio Clerici. The building is perched between lake and mountains, facing the Grignas.
In 1801 Gian Battista Sommariva, a famous politician, businessman and patron of arts, bought the property. He made it into one of the main attractions in the region, creating the romantic garden and filling its walls with masterpieces from the world of art, including The Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet - by Fransesco Hayez.
Princess Marianne of the Netherlands then bought the villa in 1843. She gave it to her daughter, Carlotta, as a wedding present, but tragically she died at the young age of 23. The villa was named after the princess and remained in the Sachsen-Meiningen family until the time of World War I.
Hidden gems around Lake Como
Discover the history and culture of Moto Guzzi, the oldest European manufacturer in continuous motorcycle production, come to life through a special exhibition. There are over 150 pieces in the collection, including production motorcycles, sport bikes, prototypes and experimental engines.
The exhibition area features over 80 vehicles, from the first dedicated touring machine Norge 1928 to the Guzzi Sport and GT series of the thirties.
The Moto Guzzi Museum is located in Mandello del Lario, Lake Como. It is the original birthplace of the Moto Guzzi Eagle emblem, developed in 1921 to honour the death of one of the company's founders. His name was Giovanni Ravelli, a decorated pilot who fought in the Royal navy during World War I.
To dine for... Al Veluu Ristorante
Food and drink is at the heart of Italian culture and Lake Como offers some of the very finest Italian cuisine. It is home to a number of world-class restaurants, with one of the most celebrated being Al Veluu Ristorante.
Even before you walk towards the restaurant entrance through splendid manicured gardens, you sense that you are about to experience something special. You are then taken to the restaurant's beautiful terrace on the gentle slopes of Tremezzo in front of panoramic views of Lake Como and its surrounding mountains.
A wonderfully warm and attentive family team look after you throughout your meal, serving delicious food that is produced and handpicked from their nearby garden.
If you are looking for a romantic meal in a magical setting, then there is nowhere better than Al Veluu Ristorante as dusk settles on sparkling Lake Garda.