Oh, Lake Como. It conjures up images of idyllic Italian shores, mahogany Riviera boats cutting through mirrored waters and George Clooney types holed up in luxury lakeside villas. But in reality? it’s all this, and so much more. Here are #TeamCoco’s top tips for how to spend a weekend in this coveted corner of the Italian Lakes.
Enjoy the lakeside drive
The first thing you’ll want to do is rent a car if you can. You’re likely to arrive into one of Milan’s airports and from here, it’s around an hour and 30 minutes to Lake Como. While the winding drive might not be for the faint-hearted with its fair share of blind bends and sheer drops, the scenery is enough to distract even the most nervous driver. We drove from Como right up to the southern shore of the lake, before getting the car ferry across from Bellagio to Cadennabia to see both sides of the lake.
Head out onto the water
If there was ever a place to rent a boat, this would surely be it, so channel your inner Amal and head straight out onto the lake. You can easily rent a boat from one of the local companies like Airon Marine di Paolo Molinari, no licence required. Just don’t forget to pack a picnic, as it’s not easy to moor up once you’re on board. While it might not be particularly cheap, it’s one unforgettable experience.
Explore the lake by boat
Renting a boat is also the best and easiest way to explore the lake. Cruise past Bellagio’s pretty pastel harbour, onto Tremezzo to get a view of the magnificent Villa Carlotta from the water, before mooring up just off exclusive Villa del Balbianello – a 12th-century marvel you might recognise from films like Casino Royal, with its gardens that jut out onto the lake. Our favourite spot for a swim was the quieter side of Bellagio, near the harbour of the Circolo Della Vela Pescallo sailing school.
Lunch at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo
For a lunch that’s just as elegant as your lakeside surroundings, there is no place better than the terrace at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Swept up in a glass elevator, the alpine vistas from La Terrazza restaurant are simply staggering, while the hotel itself epitomises an old-world, timeless Italian glamour that made it a favourite of the likes of Greta Garbo. The perfect place for a glass of Rose and a plateful of delicate pasta, because, whose counting carbs when they taste this good?
Soak up the scene from a lakeside pool
It’s hard to top diving directly into those cool clear lake waters, but the floating pool at Grand Hotel Tremezzo is quite simply, one of the coolest pools we’ve ever seen. You could spend hours sprawled out on one of the orange bean bags here, watching the boats, which occasionally moor up allowing chic passengers to disembark. Across the other side of the lake, Filario Hotel and Residences offer a beautiful infinity pool, private dock to jump off, day beds and stylish suites.
Take the plunge from Nesso bridge
Arguably one of the prettiest little villages on Lake Como, Nesso’s houses tumble down the steep slopes towards the shore, set on either side of a rushing waterfall. In the afternoons, local kids take turns jumping into the water from the bridge – they’re happy for you to join in, if you have the nerve!
Dine overlooking the lake in Bellagio
Located in a panoramic position with a sweeping view over the three branches of Lake Como, Ristorante la Punta is a great spot for dinner with a view, while Alle Dersene di Loppia offers an exquisite tasting menu in an ivy-covered garden, accessed through the gardens of Villa Melzi.
Eat at a local restaurant
There are plenty of lowkey restaurants scattered around the lake for a more casual lunch or dinner, like the lakeside terrace at Pizzeria Helvetia, which serves simple yet delicious fare and hearty limoncello shots at great prices.