Geographical location of Como
The Alps protect the coast of Como, which appeared in time immemorial with the melting of glaciers, from cold winds from the north, so the climate is milder here than in other parts of Lombardy. The bottom of the lake lies 200 meters below sea level, the maximum depth of the reservoir reaches 400 m. In the north, near the town of Colico, the Alpine Adda River flows into Lago di Como, along the perimeter there are mountain streams. Around the middle, in the Bellagio area, the lake divides into two branches. The length of Como is over 45 km, the width ranges from 4.2 to 0.65 km. The mild southern afternoon winds blowing all year round “breva” and night “tivano” usually do not disturb the calmness of the water surface, but in July and August the weather brings surprises: insidious storms are possible in Como, affecting the schedule of boats and ferries.
The main reason for the popularity of Lake Como is its magnificent views: rocky, forested shores, red-tiled roofs of village houses, old villas and castles, gardens blooming from March to October. On the northern shore, at the mouth of the Adda and Mera rivers, is the Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve, a plateau wetland between Lakes Como and Medzola. At the southern borders of the reserve, comfortable campgrounds are located right on the shore or within walking distance of the lake. At Camping La Torre in Sorico, tourists will be offered caravans or micro-houses with verandas, hot and cold water, Wi-Fi, and laundry. Guests can enjoy windsurfing, kitesurfing, horse riding, paragliding and hang gliding. Camp La Riva is set on the Mere River with its own outdoor pool. On the opposite bank, La Grande operates, enticing guests with the opportunity to bring pets with them. The camping season on Lake Como starts in March and lasts until November. A room costs about 10 euros per day, but all services, such as electricity, are extra paid. For rent, guests are offered boats and boats, fishing and swimming equipment.
There are few sandy beaches on the lake, one of the few located in the area of the town of Lierna on the east coast. In other areas of Como, narrow strips of the coast are covered with pebbles, and near Lecco, at the eastern "leg", the rocks are quite close to the water. The most visited beaches with developed infrastructure are in the Bellagio area. The water of Como is cool, the optimal time for swimming is July and August. It is recommended to swim along the coast to avoid cold currents.
Man-made landmarks in the vicinity of Como
If travelers do not have enough time to explore all the attractions of coastal cities and towns, they are advised to pay attention to the town of Como, which once competed with Milan for dominance in the region. Today, the Baradello fortress towering over a 430-meter hill, or rather, the square watchtower of the 6th century and the chapel of St. Nicholas, reminds of its former glory. The Gothic cathedral of Como was built on the site of an earlier Romanesque in the 14th century, the interior was renewed in the 16th-17th centuries. The building, reaching a height of 75 meters, is made in the form of a Latin cross. You can take pictures inside the temple, but not during church holidays.
Ancient cult objects have been preserved in other parts of Lake Como. In Gravedona, on the northwest coast, tourists can see the Romanesque church of Santa Maria del Tiglio, built in the 12th century from white marble and black stone. Inside, from the previous buildings, there is a floor with a 5th century mosaic with black-white-red patterns, fragments of medieval frescoes.
Mount Ossuccio - UNESCO World Heritage Site
The status of a protected object was received not by the natural monument itself, but by the baroque chapels on it. The 419 m high rock is located 25 km north of the town of Como, on the western shore of the lake, in the commune of Ossuccio, opposite the island of Comacina. The goddess Ceres was once worshiped in the mountain sanctuary; in the 17th-18th centuries, 14 chapels with 230 terracotta statues of saints leading to the last building, the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, were erected in its place according to a single plan.
Comacina, the only island on Lake Como, is small - only 600 meters long and 200 meters wide. In the 12th century, during the Ten Years War between Como and Milan for trade routes, the island was set on fire, and the inhabitants were forced to swim from the burning ruins to escape. In memory of this event, hundreds of toy boats with lighted candles are launched on the Sunday closest to June 24 every year. After the defeat, the island was deserted for a long time, medieval buildings fell into decay. Residents returned to Comacina only in the Baroque era, at the same time the Church of San Giovanni appeared. Hotels for tourists began to be built in the twentieth century.
Villas and castles of Como
In the Perleda area on the eastern shore of Lake Como, the 12th century castle of Veccio is well preserved. True, tourists are more likely interested not in the harsh medieval building, but in the bird of prey show, which takes place in the garden every day from 10 am to 4 pm from March to October. You can admire the rapidly diving buzzards, owls, and hawks for only 4 euros. The respectable Castello di Lierna, located 6 km to the south, differs from the austere stone building surrounded by a fortress wall. The Milanese fought for the right to occupy it back in the XII century, but then the locals simply used a solid foundation to build residential buildings over it, giving it a cozy bourgeois look.
There are many inaccessible private villas on the coast of Lake Como, but some of the most interesting from an architectural point of view are open to visitors for only 6-9 euros. The Villa Carlotta, built in the 17th century in Tremezzo, on the western shore of the lake opposite Bellagio, deserves attention. The complex looks most impressive in spring, when one and a half hundred species of azaleas bloom in the garden. The building itself houses a unique collection of Canova statues. No less famous is the garden at the neoclassical Villa Melzi, open to tourists from late March to November.
On the promontory of the commune of Ossuccio, right on the coast, at the foot of a wooded mountain, rises Villa Balbianello. Built at the beginning of the 18th century on the ruins of a Franciscan monastery, it has become a living backdrop for many film projects - Italian classics, one of the James Bond series, an episode of Star Wars. The last owner of the villa, Guido Monzino, the famous traveler who conquered the North Pole, opened a museum in the house, which displays household items of the Inuit, Argentine Indians, Masai, Tibetans, valuable collections of Venetian glass and English furniture.
Active holidays on Lake Como
Lake Como is the only place in Europe where you can get a seaplane pilot's license, spending six months of your personal time and more than 10 thousand euros on it. Ordinary tourists prefer the easier route - for 80 euros, take a passenger seat on a half-hour seaplane flight over Como. The town of Como has a year-round diving training center with a diving pool and kayaking courses. For lovers of the classics, there is a rowing school. There are many excellent fishing spots on the lake, but you can fish yourself only after purchasing a special permit, which costs about 30 euros per year.
There are many hiking trails in the surrounding area, with detailed maps, signs and markings available. You can also climb the mountains by cable car from Como to Brunate in just 7 minutes. The line was opened back in 1894 and has since been completely rebuilt. The carriage runs every 15-30 minutes with 4 stops. Despite the favorable terrain, there is no downhill skiing near Como - the nearest resort is located an hour and a half north of the lake.