Lake Como in Italy has long been a favorite place for a number of celebrities, and from what you might read about their vacations here, you might think the famous lake is nothing but an exquisitely beautiful puddle of water. This “lake Como stuff” – lounging like lizards on rocks and sipping on wine – is well known, but Como hides a rich history and a host of specifically Italian experiences you won’t want to miss out on!
Here are some of the things to do in Como if you want to become a real connoisseur:
1. Como Cathedral
Just one of the Lake Como attractions that are not that often talked about is the magnificent Como Cathedral. Built between the 13th and 18th centuries, Como’s main place of worship is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its Gothic features tower over Piazza Duomo, though influences of the Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque can also be noticed.
What you’ll see before stepping inside is the 15th-century facade, along with a rose window, and two statues of Como natives – Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. Inside the cathedral, you can feast your eyes on a host of tapestries and paintings, many of which originate from the period between the 15th and the 17th centuries.
2. A meal at Agriturismo Sorsasso
After a long day lounging by the lake and exploring the city, there’s nothing better than a good meal. For the gourmands and connoisseurs, it’s quite clear that the best food is the freshest food. Agriturismo Sorsasso can offer you just that.
Located on the northern end of the lake, this family-owned restaurant is an agriturismo – what this means is that every ingredient that passes through your lips was harvested from either the adjoining farm or the nearby area. Alongside the delicious food, you can enjoy a stunning view of the calm waters of the lake and the towering mountains.
3. Villa del Balbianello
Another part of the unforgettable experience in Lake Como is the opulence and beauty of the surrounding villas. A walk around Villa del Balbianello can easily enchant. Not only a villa, but an entire complex that consists of two residential buildings, a portico, and even a church, overlooks the Isola Comacina and the western shore of the lake.
Inside the main building of the villa, you can find English and French furnishings that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, a collection of sculptures and artifacts, and intricate glass paintings, while a stroll along its gardens will make you feel as though you were in a fairy tale.
Another amazing fact about the villa – its former owner is Guido Monzini, the leader of the first Italian expedition to the Everest! On the upper floor of the villa, you can even see one of the eight sleighs he used to travel to the North Pole.
4. Basilica of Sant'Abbondio
You can find yourself in the 11th century about 500 meters south of Como’s city walls. The Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, built in a Romanesque style, was constructed by the orders of St Amantius of Como in order to house sacred relics of St Peter and Paul.
Inside, you can still find frescoes that depict various times in Christ’s life – from the Annunciation all the way to his burial. There’s evidence they originate from the 14th century, though the artist was, sadly, lost to history. A 15th-century statue depicting Sant’Abbondio himself is located next to the main altar. Look over to the sides of the entrance portal, and there you’ll see 17th-century canvases – Assumption of Mary by Giovani Battista Crespi, and St. Abbondio with a Child by Giovani Battista Recchi.
In case you’re around in August, you’ll be privy to a true Italian scene. It’s during that time of the year that the church celebrates by having a week-long food festival, the Sagra. Tables laden with local delicacies are set up all around the local park for everyone to enjoy.
5. Museum Moto Guzzi
For the bike and car aficionados, there’s no place better than a motorcycle museum right near the lake. This museum celebrates the history of the Moto Guzzi manufactures, established in 1921. Inside the museum itself, you can see over 150 exhibits, among which are motorcycles, sportbikes, and even prototypes.
The museum also tells a story about how Moto Guzzi took its place in the arena of motorcycle racing. Here, you can see the Guzzi 4V from 1924, one that rode Guido Mentasti to victory at the first European title at Monza, and the more recent V7 which shattered speed records in 1969 at the Monza circuit. You can finish off your visit with the section “The Sound of Passion” – onscreen showings of the most interesting and iconic videos on the history of Moto Guzzi.
6. Botanical Gardens at Hotel Villa Cipressi
Your “Lake Como Italy pictures” folder won’t be complete without a visit to the botanical gardens! This is yet another hidden gem that is not talked about nearly enough. A perfect place for getting away from it all, even if only for a few hours, the botanical garden is a well-designed treasure of plants native to lake Como.
Villa Cipressi, along with the large garden, was built between 1400 and 1800. Originally owned by the Serponti family (whose roots reach to 1163), then owned by Baron Isimbaldi at the dusk of the 18th century, Sir Astley and Sir Salton during the 20th century, it finally reached a public status in the 1980s. Since then, the villa and its gardens have become a sanctuary for guests and locals alike. If you want to steep yourself in history, you can stroll the gardens, have a meal at the hotel’s restaurant, and even spend a couple of days enjoying its elegance and luxury.
7. Enoteca Principessa Winery
The wines of Italy are indescribable, and where better to taste them than the one and only Lago di Como? Located in Bellagio, a town where the lake divides into two sections, the Enoteca Principessa winery can offer you a priceless wine tasting experience.
The owner of the winery is truly passionate about his work and, it can be said, takes pride in the quality of the wines. He is said to “read minds” when it comes to recommending wines and you’ll be sure to be treated with an in-depth tour and find out all about why Italy’s wines are among the best in the world! In case you want to take some of the wines home, you needn’t worry about transport – the winery will provide delivery to you, wherever you happen to be in the world.
To get around Como, you can hop on boats and ferries, change a train or two, or spend some time crammed in a bus. Or you can do what the Italians do – get a luxury car that will take care of your travels and even help you set up an itinerary. Whether you’re traveling for pleasure or business, we at Auto Elite can help you experience Italy the way Italians do, no fuss, and no rush. Contact us and take care of all your transport needs.