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Summer. A time when you want the sun, sea, and all kinds of peaks to climb. Or maybe just to do nothing. While this wonderful time of the year known as vacation is already almost over, or remains just a mirage for those survivors still left in the city, Lake Como and its surroundings can offer the perfect destination. What’s more, Lake Como is full of charm, hidden places and secret corners, all to be discovered. But it’s also easy to get to, just a short distance from Milan, and always gives you a unique peek into things, all worth writing home about.
So, here’s our personal “Best Of “ list, a little guide capturing the best of Lake Como in terms of what to do and where to go. For nature lovers as well as others, if you want to experience the lake by being on it, then rent a boat from one of its many licensed nautical centers. This way, you can enjoy the magic of taking in the lake from a different angle. Ready to escape the city and dive into adventure?
Isola Comacina (Comacina Island) on Lake Como at Ossuccio. Isola dei Cipressi (The Island of the Cypresses) on Lake Pusiano. Two islands and two gems of rare beauty. Magical places with almost untouched nature, where a perfect balance between man and the environment is a reality. Where everything is in harmony and where any dream can come true.
VILLAS AND GARDENS
If you like castles, historic mansions and gardens, then you can’t miss Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello in Tremezzina, the gardens of Villa Melzi and hidden park at Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, or Villa Monastero and the Castello di Vezio (Vezio Castle) in Varenna. A bit more out of the way, but equally rich in charm and mystery, is the Castello dell’Innominato (the Castle Without a Name) in Vercurago.
THE LAKESIDE AND BEACHES
The best beaches, the most well-served lakeside bathing areas (or “lido”) and the best lake front locations can be found in this area.
Lido di Cernobbio – has an olympic-size pool, yoga classes at dawn, lounge bar and gourmet restaurant. Directly behind Villa Erba.
Lido di Bellagio – with boat docks, a launching area and a white sandy beach with gazebos and beach chairs. Should you want to stay out late, this beach transforms itself in the evening, becoming the perfect location for your drink at dusk or dancing late into the night.
Lido di Lenno – a small lakeside area with a sandy beach, gazebos, large beach chairs, and a fantastic lounge bar. Is there any downside? A dream location, loved by newlyweds.
Theriva – in Oliveto Lario, between Lecco and Bellagio, a full-service beach with a pier and beach bar. Minimalistic, always up-to-date with the latest trends and very pet friendly.
Riva Bianca – in Lierna, a small, public, white pebble beach that’s hidden and tucked away. It has no beach services, but there are several restaurants, cafés and ice-cream parlors nearby, catering to your every need. Given the high turnout during the summer, I’d recommend you always book places here well in advance.
Spiaggia Punta Grumo (Punta Grumo Beach) – also in Lierna. Has no easy water access, but good if you like to dive in and enjoy the effort of climbing up some rocks to get back. The water here is the cleanest in all of Lake Como. The small kiosk also offers beach chairs, canoe and kayak rentals, beach volleyball and a play area for small children.
WALKING AND HIKING TRAILS
Valsassina, less than half an hour by car from Lecco, will certainly be able to offer you refreshment and peace of mind amidst its woods, trails and mountains. You’ll find paths meeting all likes and abilities. Also, many rural B&B’s where you can recharge and rediscover traditional flavors. Offering priceless views, but without any services, the Sentiero del Viandante or “Hiker’s Trail” connects Lecco with the villages along the eastern side of Lake Como. Don’t forget to take water and food supplies along and you can download the map for the stretch you want to cover.
If you’re a devotee of parks and taking a walk in the woods or along a riverbank, then have a gander at Parco di Montevecchia e della Valle del Curone (Montevecchia and the Curone Valley Park), Parco Valle Lambro (Lambro Valley Park), or Parco Adda Nord e Sud (North and South Adda Park). In these, you can discover numerous routes, flora, fauna, excursions and events organized by each park every season.