Benvenuto! Welcome to Como, Italy!

Como, Italy, is that destination you should add to your world-class travel bucket list if you’re hoping to stumble upon a location that is simply the best of both worlds.

If you were hoping to have one foot in “city-life” and one foot in the “natural wonders of the world,” Como, Italy, is your shimmering jewel of a place, satisfying every bit of your wanderlust.

 

On one hand, Como is urban. The city is sprawling and larger than some of the smaller surrounding resorts. Yet, nature abounds. Green hills encapsulate the city and open up into the villa-rimmed basin of Lake Como itself.

Lake Como is a lake of glacial origin (brrrrr…)and happens to be one of the largest lakes in Italy together with Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore (…you should probably go ahead and add these other two lakes to your Italian bucket list, too.)

If you can get a bird’s eye view from the sky (if that sounds appealing…skip ahead to Reason #5 below…), you’ll see that Lake Como is shaped much like an inverted letter “Y.”

For all of the villas and villages and the prestige and, simultaneously, the down-to-earth feel, Como is the place to visit if you’re looking for a “real” Italian adventure. Come for the landscape, the wildlife, and the spas. Come for the sailing, windsurfing, or kitesurfing. Or, come simply for the food.

The centro storico (old town), still has the typical structure of a the Italian daydream you’ve been dreaming about:  picturesque Italian cafes, sprawling Italian squares, little lanes, Italian shops, and the best combination between peaceful and action-packed.  

Como is known all around the world as a place for tourists and naturalists to enjoy and savor the vistas, take in the natural landscape, and explore the impressive Lake Como itself.

The city of Como has an impressive history, with many of the historical buildings still around and standing. Fine restaurants and museums of importance will pique your interest, and with enough things to do outside, you’ll certainly get a healthy dose of fresh air and that much needed Vitamin D.

1. Light a candle at Como Cathedral

OK, wow. When you get to Como, one of the first places to visit on your must-see list is Como Cathedral, which is better known as the Cathedral of Como or Duomo di Como. Hands down, Como Cathedral is the most impressive building in the city, especially since it blends years of style. Como Cathedral’s Gothic architecture alone, which wasn’t fully completed until the 18th century, will take your breath away.

For the northern region of Italy, Como Cathedral is one of the most important religious buildings. To scout out the location of Como Cathedral, unfold your map of Lake Como and get your bearings by finding Piazza Duomo.
The clean-cut profile of Como Cathedral features a rose window and two statues of Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, which are now under two glass cases, protecting them from the destructive effects of weather and smog. Wander inside Como Cathedral, say a prayer for someone you love, and light a candle.

2. Take in Lake Como (obviously….)

The best way to experience the joys of Lake Como is to find a way to get out on the water. Enjoy the landscape and enjoy the company of your friends and family on a boat. Tour companies and boat operators will be happy to steer the ship if you’d rather just take in the sunshine, the brilliance of nature, historic landmarks, and stories from the past.

You can also take a boat ride as a form of transportation if you’re eager to make your way to some of the coastal towns like Cernobbio or Bellagio.

3. Have a sense of adventure

Since you’re already in the foothills of the Italian Alps, why don’t you live a little? Bicycle through Como on a bike tour or up your ante and hop into an actual aeroplane. Soar through the skies in a seaplane, experience the thrill of flipping upside down, and land right on top of the glacial water.

Adventure-seekers can also rock climb (with or without equipment), hike, trek the glaciers, or mountaineer. Boat enthusiasts can windsurf, kitesurf, or maneuver their kayak through the smaller inlets.

4. Go to the gardens and go see the art

Wander through a magnificent botanical garden and explore the masterpieces of art in the over 70,000 square meters of gardens and museums at Villa Carlotta. Villa Carlotta is a villa and a botanical garden right at the edge of Lake Como.

The Villa Carlotta museum itself is comprised of two floors, enriched by art masterpieces by the likes of Canova, Tadolini, Thorvaldsen, Wicar, Appiani, and Hayez. There are also displays of furniture, objects, pictures, and decorations from the mid 18th century.

Even if there wasn’t world renowned art here, the Villa Carlotta gardens would be worth a visit themselves. Old varieties of camellias, century old cedars and sequoias, the Rhododendron wood and Bamboos garden, plus huge tropical plants and a Rock garden make this place, especially with a view of the lake itself, “a place of heaven.”

Geometric flower beds, small basins, and fountains adorn the terraces in front of the villa. As a visitor, expect wonder after wonder.

5. Take a day trip to one of the nearby cities

If you’re staying in Como for a few days you might want to take a quick train ride to one of the famous Italian cities.

In only 40 minutes you will be in Milan – Italy’s fashion capital and its most important economical centre.

The list of things to do in Milan is pretty long but the Duomo Cathedral, the Sforza Castle and the Da Vinci’s Last Supper are definitely a must-see.

The beautiful city of Monza – well known for the Grand Prix motor racing circuit is also located nearby.

Other interesting locations near Como include Torino, Bergamo and other lake cities such as Lecco or Arona.

6. EAT – you’re in Italy after all!

In food, the Italian is delicious. Wait – you’re so hungry you read that wrong. In Italy, the country itself is literally known for the food that is unlike anywhere else in the world.

While you’re traveling abroad, the moment hunger strikes, take advantage of Lake Como’s favorite eats. From espresso and sweets to full on Italian fare, you will certainly have your fill. 

Ask a local to point you in the right direction of their favorite Lake Como bakery, delicatessen, eatery or wine shop. When you stop for a glass of Italian wine, make sure you order the Italian’s favorite cured meats like prosciutto, bresaola, salami, and mortadella.

 

Barbara is the founder of CrabInTheAir.com, a travel blog where she shares her passion for exploring the world. She loves writing about all the hotels visited, the wonderful cities discovered and the unique people met along the way.

When she doesn’t travel she enjoys cooking, writing and practising yoga.