We’ve just returned from a wonderful 2 week Italian holiday, based at our home in Gabiano, and to make it extra special, the break spanned both of our birthdays – my milestone was to come later in the stay, but Melanie’s birthday came during our first week.
I wanted to do something memorable to mark the occasion, and we had talked loosely a few weeks earlier about visiting Lake Como during the trip, so I ran with this idea, and did some research into the area.
Lake Como is nestled in the Italian Alps, and gained a great deal of publicity back in 2014 as it hosted part of the nuptials of a certain Mr and Mrs Clooney; many other celebrities, including Madonna, also have properties along the lake’s shoreline. The first thing I learnt however, was that Lake Como itself covers a large area, some 56 square miles to be precise, it includes many towns and villages along it’s shores, so choosing where to stay wasn’t as simple as I had at first thought.
The area of Lake Como is shaped a bit like a headless running man, although the right (trailing) leg is actually a separate lake, Lake Lecco, named after the town that features at its southern most point. Similarly, the town of Como itself is situated at the southern most point of the (leading) left leg of the lake.
After working my way through numerous travel websites and blogs, I finally decided to arrange an overnight stay in the popular resort of Bellagio, located at the tip of the peninsular that separates the two ‘legs’, at the southern end of the main body of the lake.
Our two and a half hour drive from Gabiano meant that we approached from the south, via Milan, so to enjoy as much of the area as possible, we decided to travel to Bellagio via the western shore of Lake Lecco, and return via the eastern shore of Lake Como.
Day 1 | Lake Lecco, Onno and Bellagio
We left late morning, and headed up towards Milan (Milano) – the drive was quite straight forward until we hit the city outskirts, when our progress was hampered by a sudden wall of trucks and cars – not sure where all these vehicles came from! However, after a short spell of stop / start, we managed to leave the city behind and slowly climbed in the direction of Lecco, with stunning alpine views accompanying us along the way.
As it was approaching lunch time, we decided to stop en-route to grab some food, and take in the breathtaking beauty of the lake – the wonderfully named town of Onno, was our host. We found a local pizzeria, which I was really excited about, as by this time we had been in Italy for 5 days, and were yet to indulge in this wonderful local delicacy! But alas, this pizzeria was amazingly out of pizza, so after grumbling for a couple of minutes, I settled on a panini.
Before heading back to our car, I took the opportunity to wander along the lake front armed with my camera. The scenery was just stunning.
Onno is one of many locations on the lakes, connected by a spider’s web of ferry routes – and whilst a trip on the open sea (lake!) would have been great, we unfortunately didn’t really have the time for such adventures on this occasion.
We left Onno behind, and carried on to our overnight destination of Bellagio, and our hotel for the night, The II Perlo Panorama, on the outskirts of the town. I had chosen the hotel as it boasted of gorgeous lake views, and we were not disappointed. It also plays host to many from the cycling community, and offers some great facilities for those that prefer to travel the mountain roads via peddling on two wheels.
The hotel is located some height above the lake, and our room had the most stunning balcony view across the tip of the peninsula, and Lake Como itself – it was one of those views that just leave you in awe of nature’s natural beauty.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area around the hotel, before enjoying pre-dinner drinks on the terrace. In order to whet my appetite, some guests on the next table were enjoying what looked to be a rather large and delicious pizza, so I decided that that would be my choice when we hit the restaurant later, to make up for the disappointment of earlier.
As we arrived at the restaurant for dinner, we were shown to a lovely table, and supplied with menus – I turned straight to the pizza page, and slowly perused the choices – “I’m sorry sir, we have no pizza this evening” said the polite young waiter, as he asked for our drinks order. Clearly, the powers that be were contriving to prevent me from having pizza that day, but nevertheless, we had a great meal, and enjoyed delicious wine (a local Barbera), a lovely end to an excellent day.
Day 2 | Birthday Sunrise, Nesso and Como
As the sun slowly rose on Melanie’s birthday, we absorbed the views from our room and balcony, I can’t think of many better places to greet the start of a new year.
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, then packed up and began the drive towards Como, again experiencing the most amazing views at every twist and turn of the narrow mountain road that ran alongside the lake.
Before reaching Como, we decided to stop for more photo opportunities, this time choosing the small town of Nesso, about half way between Bellagio and Como.
After leaving Nesso, we progressed to the last stop of the trip, the town of Como itself. Much larger than anywhere else we had stopped, it took us a while to find parking, but once settled, we found our way to the lake front areas to discover what the town had to offer.
To be honest, we were a little underwhelmed – whilst there were some interesting views, we just didn’t feel the town lived up to the other places that we had visited. Maybe by being so much larger, it wasn’t able to retain the style and charm of it’s smaller neighbours, but nonetheless, we had an enjoyable walk along the lake side, and experienced another ‘pizza-less’ lunch!
We left Como by mid-afternoon, in time to return home before dinner. It had been a very special couple of days, and I hope we have the chance to return to the Lake Como area again at some point in the not too distant future. I think next time, I would look to take advantage of the ferry rides and perhaps drive the full circumference of the lakes; definitely something to think about.
Some links related to the area:
The hotel we stayed at: http://www.ilperlo.com/en/
Lake Como’s official site: http://www.lakecomo.it/en
Como’s official site: http://www.visitcomo.eu/en