Famous Como and its striking wishbone-shaped lake forks through hilly forests down to the water’s edge, characterised by elegant neoclassical villas and opulent belle epoque mansions which cling to the emerald shore, backed by flower-filled Italian gardens.
Found in northern Italy’s county of Lombardy, Lake Como is one of Italy’s ritziest regions. Conceived when a glacier divided 10,000 years ago during the Ice Age, its glittering waters first attracted the Romans becoming an important trade stop on the Via Regina. When Julius Caesar created its first town, Como, wealthy aristos came too, drawn by its balmy temperatures and beauty. When the 14th century Duke of Milan planted mulberry trees around the waters - the food source of silkworms - Lake Como became the profitable epicentre of silk production. Artisans and skilled craftsman followed, adding creativity, acclaim and prosperity to the area.
Adding to this Lake Como’s abundant natural charm, it was no wonder that well-heeled Milanese flocked here, securing themselves a portion of the lakeside scene, building historic villas that wow visitors to this day. Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta, Villa Melzi, Villa Monastero and Villa Serbelloni are just some of the elegant dwellings that dot the shore, encased in formal Italian landscaped gardens.
Today, the lake remains as captivating as ever and it’s easy to see why creatives and dreamers flock here, the contemplative waters giving inspiration to a historical span of writers from Pliny the Elder, to Byron, Wordsworth and Shelley, and becoming a musical muse for composers Liszt and Verdi. Take to the lake by boat to get the full picture, pulling in the southern shore towns Como and Lecco for an espresso among the throngs of impeccably dressed Italians and the cobbled streets of sign-inducingly pretty Belaggio is well worth a wander. Away from the towns, the hills have a criss-cross of ancient pathways that will take you to lesser-visited villages but no less pretty. On Lake Como, beauty comes as standard.