Our next stop after Zurich, was Lake Como, which is an hour away from Tirano, the small town where the Bernina Express terminates. We spent 3 days in Lake Como and although this was enough time to see the main villas and towns, I don’t think you can ever really have enough time in Lake Como – it’s just so beautiful.
The only way I can describe it is, what you imagine when you think of typical Italy; cute winding alleyways, small independent shops selling nic-nacs and locally made olive oil and balsamic vinegar (yes I did stock up!) and gelato stands on every corner, with the backdrop of a lake and mountains. Just unbelievable! It looked like a postcard or a movie set, so no wonder Hollywood stars like George Clooney love it so much.
The best way to see Lake Como, in my opinion, is simply to walk around, explore each town and what it has to offer. The towns are so different from each other, and each one has its own charm and characteristics. The must-sees are Bellagio, the most famous town, which was also my favourite; Tremezzo, where Villa Carlotta is, Menaggio and Varenna, the cutest little town where we stayed.
The villas are the main ‘things-to-see’ in Lake Como and each one, just like the towns are unique and have their own little charms. Villa Balbianello, probably the most famous villa is where Star Wars and James Bond: Casino Royale were filmed, Villa Carlotta is also one to visit, with a beautiful front gate and amazing gardens with bamboo fields, waterfalls etc and lastly Villa Melzi with has a gazebo with this view of the lake!
Every restaurant we stumbled across was amazing, I mean can you even get bad food in Italy?! A few musts are Risorante La Punta (Bellagio) – try the pesto pasta; the best gelato we had was at Gelateria del Borgo (Bellagio) – try the coconut and lemon flavours, and in Varenna, go to Ristorante La Vista (book ahead) and Bar II Molo.
I’ve seen a few places in Italy now, but Lake Como has to be one of my favourites. I hope to visit again soon, and explore the villas and gardens I didn’t get to see, eat at every out-door restaurant in the alleyways and enjoy gelatos, while watching the boats come and go on the lake-front. Can’t get any better than this!