Tour of Lake Como by Lenny Blandino
When people think of Northern Italy they usually think Milano and fashion, Venice and the Laguna and maybe Turin with the Egyptian Museum. One well known area, but perhaps less considered is Lake Como, Lago di Como; a beautiful Lake that sits on the border between Italy and Switzerland. Famous among Northern Italians for short day-trips or romantic getaways, it is also a favorite destination for Germans, Swiss and Northern Europeans for their summer vacations.
For centuries unbeknownst to outsiders of the Chinese Imperial Court, manufacturing of silk was established in Italy only after 1000 AD, spreading across the southern regions, especially Sicily. It began to spread in the Lake Como area around the year 1400, thanks to the long term vision of the Duke Ludovico Sforza, who insisted that farmers plant Gelso (Mulberry) seeds. He eventually got the name Ludovico il Moro for the Latin name of the Gelso “Bombix Mori”.
Nowadays most of the fabric is imported from China, Japan and Brasil, but it’s still in the Lake Como area that expert artisans craft those precious outfits that shine in high-fashion front stores all over the world. You can find more at Museosetacomo.com (in Italian)
A 19th-century villa in Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como, it was built by Luigi Erba, brother of renowned businessman Carlo Erba (founder of the first Italian pharmaceutical company). After he passed away, it was inherited by his daughter Carla, then her son Luchino Visconti; the director most famous for “The Leopard” and “Death in Venice”. In 1986, the villa was bought by an association to use as an exposition and convention center. In 2004, it served as a filming location for Ocean’s Twelve, the blockbuster movie starring George Clooney and friends.
Mostly known for Clooney’s luxurious Villa Oleandra, the small village of Laglio became suddenly famous among Italians and foreigners. It sits on the western shore of the south-western branch of Lake Como, 14 kilometres (9 mi) from the town of Como, the largest city on the Lake.
To see the lake, visit the official site Navigazionelaghi.it, they also have an English version available. You can buy daily tickets and choose your destination or opt for a hop on/hop off excursion. Best times to view the Lake would be in spring or on a sunny day. The views are amazing!
The main towns on the lake are linked by a faster hydrofoil service or you can choose to take your car with you on a ferry. Cadenabbia, Bellagio, Varenna e Menaggio are a must-see.
Like most of Northern Italy best times to visit the area are spring and summer. Rent a car and challenge yourself to drive along its almost rally-like roads; this will be an experience in itself! Week-ends and during the month of August are times of the year with tourist crowds and traffic.
Feeling adventurous? The Lake Como area is only a hop, skip and jump away from Switzerland. Crossing the border is easy, so for an extra day trip consider visiting and get a bite of some chocolate!
Written by Lenny Blandino. You can visit him at AnywhereTraveler.com