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Villa-Hopping in Lake Como


Lake Como is a region of Italy for movie lovers, foodies, lake folk, architecture/antique buffs, and cobblestone enthusiasts like myself. While at the Lake, I spent a few days exploring and capturing the beauty of Bellagio, Varenna, and Lenno, and I'm back to tell you what you can't miss in these boat-centric towns.



BELLAGIO

Bellagio, in my opinion (and many many others), is the best place to stay while at the lake. It's got plenty of ferry routes over to the other towns, plenty to explore on foot, and is a little calmer than Varenna. We stayed in an Airbnb on Salita Serbelloni with amazing views of the lake and mountains, but there are plenty of hotels right on the water too.

Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and Salita Serbelloni

The corner of these two streets has one of the most iconic viewpoints in all of Lake Como where you can see the colorful little shops, the water, and the mountains. If you walk down Salita Serbelloni there are many local shops that are a joy to explore. I highly recommend going early in the morning to beat the crowds, or going during lunch time to visit Trattoria San Giacomo at the top of the steps and eating some great classic Italian food.

Visit the Lake!

If you go down to the Old Town Center by the water you can get excellent coffee and gelato (my favorite was Gelateria del Borgo - they have vegan options too!) and get some great views of the lake. From here you can also find your way to a swimming spot by walking to San Giovanni Beach.

Visit the Melzi Gardens

You can't go wrong with a free botanic garden a short walk from the ferry station - and at a Villa no less.

Visit the nearby town of Pescallo

Pescallo is a little fishing village that's a quite a bit more quaint than central Bellagio. You can easily walk here from the city center, about 15 mins.

EAT!

You're in Italy - get some authentic food!

My personal favorite dinner spot on this part of the lake was La Goletta. The potatoes were insane. I still dream about them.


LENNO

If you are a Star Wars, James Bond, or general movie nerd, this town is a must see. If you're not a fan of these films, it's still a must see.

Villa del Balbianello

If you are visiting Lenno you must come here. I would recommend the earliest time slot if you are booking ahead (you also must book ahead of time if you want to explore inside). I did not get tickets ahead of time and instead arrived at the front gates 30 minutes before they opened to make sure I could get in (also, it's a lot less busy in the morning). To get to the villa you can either walk the 20 minutes up the hill from the ferry port to the villa, or if you're lucky the water taxis will be available.

Lunch at Ristorante Giglio

Great water views, great gluten free Italian options, no complaints.

Underground Crypt at the Church of St Stefano

I wasn't able to visit this when I went but it looks incredible!


VARENNA

Varenna is so incredibly picturesque. The ferry in was stunning, the clocktower on perfect view, the colorful buildings wedged into the trees on the mountain. Stunning. This is a town I just suggest walking around and exploring the little streets.

Villa Monastero

A short walk will get you to this villa with great views of the rest of the town.

Passeggiata degli Innamorati

A great way to walk along the water!

Dine!

Il Cavatappi is so worth making reservations for. It's such a cute intimate space with amazing entres.




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