George Clooney might be thinking of selling up, but that’s no reason to write off beautiful Lake Como just yet. Here’s why you should make it a part of your next Italian holiday.
Lake Como Attractions
On the Silk Road
The pretty lakeside town of Como made its money off the back of the silk trade. In the 6th century, a couple of Persian merchants disguised as priests smuggled silkworms out of China to the Mediterranean. From there, silk production moved north and by the 18th century Como had become its hub. Silkworms are no longer bred in Italy, but Como remains a centre for weaving, dyeing and tailoring to this day. Top designers such as Yves St Laurent, Versace and Valentino rely on Como for their silk and the town has a string of top-end boutiques as well as factory outlets to please bargain hunters, making it the obvious choice to look for the perfect silk scarf or tie to take home.
Take to the water
With the Alps as a backdrop and a smattering of lake shore villages, Lake Como’s most stunning vistas are without a doubt those viewed from on the water. From luxury motor boats for rent to the public ferries that zigzag from village to village, there’s a boat to suit every taste and budget. If you only have a day to explore the lake, then I’d recommend taking the fast ferry from Como to quaint Bellagio. To save time, hop on a bus back for a thrilling switchback ride along impossibly narrow roads.
La dolce vita
Picture postcard villages like Bellagio are packed with waterfront cafes and restaurants. From ice cream parlours to wine cellars, there’s something to tempt you to linger from breakfast until late into the night. As far as restaurants go, think lake fish and other specialities from the Lombardy region. Try the excellent La Vecchia Magnolia, located in the hills above Menaggio, which receives consistently high reviews for its food amongst stiff competition. If you’re looking for a classic enoteca, or wine bar, head for the charming Cava Turacciolo tucked along an alley in Bellagio, where you can try its extensive selection of wines from all over Italy.
That looks familiar…
It’s hardly surprising, given that the area is awash with cinematic panoramas and photogenic villas, that George Clooney isn’t the only link Lake Como has with Hollywood. The area has been popular with movie location scouts for many years. Villa del Balbianello was the site of the hospital where James Bond recuperated in Casino Royale, as well as doubling for the planet Naboo in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Nearby Villa Erba was the residence of baddie Francois Toulour, Daniel Ocean’s nemesis in Ocean’s Twelve. That same villa featured in Gwen Stefani’s music video “Cool”.
There are plenty of Lake Como attractions and the area is a great place to explore. Consider staying for a few days.