Milan is one of our favorite cities. It is very cosmopolitan and absolutely gorgeous with so many fantastic attractions like Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and the amazing cathedral Duomo di Milano.
But it is also a very big city, second only to Rome in Italy, so sometimes we like to get away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis and enjoy some of the spectacular scenery of Northern Italy. That’s why we were thrilled to find an impressive variety of options for trips to Lake Como from Milan.
The lake has often been called the most beautiful lake in the world, and even though we have certainly not seen all of the lakes on Earth, we are inclined to agree. And it is close enough to Milan to make for a perfect day trip. There are plenty of guided tours that can help insure that all of the highlights are included even in only one day.
The captivating landscape of Lake Como comes from the way glaciers carved out the lake from the surrounding Alps. This led to a long, narrow inverted Y shape that creates scenes reminiscent of the fjords in Scandinavia. It makes sense, because they were formed in a very similar way.
Majestic mountains rise right up from the shore and are reflected in the crystal clear water, so no wonder the area has drawn the attention of the world’s rich and famous for over two thousand years. Many of them built the earliest of the numerous extravagant villas that have dotted the shoreline ever since.
Yes, these date way back to the Roman times, when Pliny the Younger first built the resorts Comedia and Tragedia. Before that Virgil, the legendary Latin poet, visited the town of Bellagio and wrote about the lake in his second book of the Georgics.
Over the many, many years since then dozens more of have come and gone along the lake, and it is still a very popular getaway destination for notables such as George Clooney, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, Richard Branson, and Lionel Messi.
These day trip tours make a scenic drive along the lake shore, but also allow ample time to explore some of the towns and villages along the way. Perhaps the most picturesque of these is Bellagio, that we mentioned before.
This quaint town of a few thousand folks is often called the “Pearl of Lake Como” because of the phenomenal views spreading out in three directions from the city’s perch on the center tip of the “Y” that the shape of the lake forms. The town also features several stunning villas along the water, which add to the charm.
Another favorite stop is the dazzling village of Varenna. While there, a visit to Villa Monastero is a must. Way back when this was the site of a convent, but then, a little over five hundred years ago, it was converted to a private villa.
In 1936 it became a museum and now serves as an international conference center. But we are inclined to think that the incredible botanical garden, and its rare plant species, stretching out for about a mile along the lake is the main attraction for nature lovers and sightseers.
Many of the tours also include a jaunt over the border for a stop in the town of Lugano. Although it sits upon the shore of a different lake, and in a different country, Lugano is culturally very Italian. The language, cuisine, and culture are all very connected to Italy, but everything else about it is very much a part of Switzerland. We think it is a perfect companion for a visit to Lake Como.
After this exhilarating adventure into the Alps we can bet that the sophisticated urban vibe of metropolitan Milan will make for an exciting return to the city.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com