We decided to spend our 4th anniversary on Lake Como, visiting villas and swimming in the hotel private pool. If you’re looking for something romantic, Lake Como is the right place for you.
5 Places Worth Visiting Around Lake Como
Chiara had never visited this corner of Lombardy before, and I had not been there for ages. So here we are, leaving for the branch of the lake Manzoni did not write about. We made a list of 4 things one should absolutely see on Lake Como.
For our stay we picked the fascinating Hotel Lario (big rooms, private pool, continental buffet-breakfast etc. Definitely not cheap but under the average considering the area).
The town of Menaggio was the first place we visited. Our weekend began with a downpour, so we chose to keep the villas for the afternoon. While we were parking, an old man rear-ended us and fled. Definitely not the best way to start! He even insulted me.
In Menaggio there weren’t many tourists. Maybe because it was still raining a little, maybe because it was early Saturday morning. We got lost in its peaceful alleys, empty as we like them when it comes down to take pictures.
Menaggio is linked to a sad event in the late history of Fascism. During the fall of 1944, the Fascists founded the “Centro Antiribelli”, under captain Emilio Castelli. In the following seven months the Centro tortured dozens of people and was responsible for the death of 19 partisans. Among those we remember the torture and death of Enrico Caronti, eventually left on the street.
2. Villa Carlotta
Villa Carlotta is a daydream. The villa takes the name from Princess Carlotta, wife of George II, Duke of Sachsen-Meiningen. Unfortunately, Carlotta died at the age of 23, so she did not spend much time in the villa because of some bureaucratic obligations. Don’t worry, princess. You could have left me the villa and I would have used it!
Did you know that in the villa you can admire The last kiss of Romeo and Juliet by Hayez? But the best part of the villa is undoubtedly the botanic gardens, literally enormous. Here you can find 500 different species of plants, with 150 different kinds of azaleas, rhododendrons and tropical plants.
Not only, but the gardens also contain “The Valley of the Australis ferns”, palms, cedars, a bamboo garden and centuries-old conifers. I liked the bamboo garden most, but also the conifers were really cool.
We spent two hours and a half visiting the villa and the gardens. To be honest the gardens took most of our time (my insta-mania is no joke!). Soon you will hear more about it.
3. Villa del Balbianello
The history of this villa is so interesting and detailed that it’s difficult to sum it up in a single paragraph. I first saw the villa watching Star Wars – Episode II. Many scenes were shot in this beautiful location (in the movie it’s the planet Naboo). Especially the Loggia, where Anakin Skywalker looks thoughtful at the horizon, not far from turning to the Dark Side.
The last owner of Villa del Balbianello was Guido Monzino, famous for having organized the first Italian expedition that reached the summit of Mount Everest! And he did many other great things. He was definitely someone. The way he decorated the villa is simply astonishing. Chiara called it “strongly masculine”, and maybe she’s right. But this is also the reason why I liked it so much!
Secret passages, lounges with sofas and armchairs which I can only dream of, rooms where Monzino collected priceless antiquities, an attic containing all the acknowledgments he received, a little flat inside the villa just for his mother, with its windows facing the pale-blue lake… Villa del Balbianello is a pure marvel. You cannot neglect it if you’re planning to visit Lake Como!
Attention, please! High tourist flow! Bellagio is the town at the head of Triangolo Lariano on Lake Como, and it is considered “the pearl of the lake”. There are not many places as romantic as Bellagio. But you might not find it romantic if you visit during the high season.
In that case, Bellagio is not really romantic, but awfully crowded. You will feel very sweaty, and you won’t be able to take pictures of the empty alleys. Maybe you will sit someplace quiet, waiting for the crowd to disperse. That would be the wisest decision!
Anyway, the lakeside is truly fantastic! And the Giardini di Villa Melzi (Villa Melzi gardens) definitely deserves a visit. I hope I have the chance to visit Bellagio again, maybe in January. In this town we also ate a decent ice-cream (here), which I recommend you, especially for the cheap prices. You just have to find a low-season-weekend to fully enjoy Bellagio.
As Bellagio is the jewel of the Triangolo Lariano, Varenna is the most beautiful place on the side of Lecco. It’s a romantic fishermen’s village, with lots of colorful little houses that overlook the crystal waters of the lake. If you’re looking for someplace to spend a couple of relaxing days, far from the crowd, Varenna is the right place for you.
Varenna’s hotels can be expensive, but they undoubtedly offer all the comfort you can think of. Couples can enjoy tons of chic and romantic restaurants, not to mention the sweet and lovely spots such as the “Love Walk”, known in Italian as La Passeggiata dell’Amore.
You can guess that Varenna is a rich place just looking at its several and enormous villas: how lovely would it be to buy one of those and retire there for the rest of your life? But let’s leave aside for a second the sweet dreams and come with me to visit the evocative Castello di Vezio, from which you can enjoy a stunning view of the lake.
Have you already visited Lake Como? Do you know its towns and villas, among the classiest in Italy? I believe that, apart from the big amount of tourists, this lake can make you enjoy one of the most beautiful landscape in the whole Lombardy! Not considering the majestic valleys around the lake. Let us know what you think!