Lake Como, Italy

The elegant and bustling town of Como is the primary and commercial centre for Lake Como. The magnificent scenery of Lake Como (also known as Lake Lario) has fascinated artists and travellers from many years now and we wanted to go and experience this as well.

Lake Como continues to attract international celebrities that appreciate the evocative beauty of the Lake and its surroundings. Grand villas, palazzi, and churches show the city’s splendour, while intriguing lanes and colourful piazzas show off its charm. Situated on the lakeshore, it has a marina and a hydroplane “airport” along with its ferry port. Stroll on the promenade and enjoy the views. The city is a cultural hub with plenty of things to do, concerts, shows and museums to explore.

Como’s crowning jewel is its Duomo, a great cathedral that was started in 1396 and constructed over the course of four centuries. It has a lovely blend of styles through those years, including Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Frescoes, paintings, stained glass and sculptures decorate the vast interior.

There are a lot of things to do in Como, and once you’ve made the decision to visit this amazing Italian city, it really comes down to time management. There is plenty to do but we were just one night in Como so we did the Duomo and around Como City centre. We TOTALLY loved it and are planning to go back in near future and will be spending few days to explore this region.

Some of the towns worth visiting around the Banks of Lake Como to really enjoy Italian hospitality and culture.

 

Bellagio – situated at the junction of the lake’s two legs, this is an extremely attractive town yet less crowded and quieter than the others in the vicinity.

Bellano – located on the east side of the lake just to the north of Varenna, this lesser visited town features a pedestrian-only area in the centre of town.

Colico – although the town may not appear to be as attractive as the others surrounding Lake Como, it is still worth visiting because of its views from the top of the lake. There is a historical World War I fort that is open to the public once a week.

Como – the main town of the group is Como, which is located at the southern end of the lake. It is a more elegant resort than most and makes an excellent base for exploring the surrounding areas and towns.

Griante – situated on Lake Como’s western plateau, this small village is well worth visiting because of its spectacular vistas out over the lake and the surrounding countryside villas. Be sure to visit the small church that is perched high up the village’s mountainside.

Lecco – sitting at the southeastern end of Lake Como is the quaint town of Lecco and its 25,000 plus residents.

Menaggio – located on the western shoreline, this attractive tourist destination is not as busy as Bellagio and Varenna. There is a youth hostel located here but it is usually filled on weekends so keep that in mind. Additionally, the pedestrian-only area in the heart of town is populated with coffee shops, gelaterias, a lakefront mini-golf course and snack bar, and several restaurants.

Nesso – located about halfway between Bellagio and Como, this very small town is situated on Lake Como’s western leg.

Tremezzo – right across the lake from Bellagio is the beautiful little town of Tremezzo. The main attraction of the town is Villa Carlotta with its botanical garden and waterfront.

Varenna – sitting across from Bellagio and Menaggio along the eastern shoreline is this beautiful town with its charming villas of Villa Cipressi and Villa Montastero, the attractive and relaxing gardens of which are worth visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Milan, Italy

Milan was our second stop of our 4 weeks trip to Europe. We always wanted to go and see Milan and around Lake Como area so glad we done it.

Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern region, is a global capital of fashion and design. Home to the top European banking institutions, it’s a financial hub also known for its high-end restaurants and shops. The Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, housing Leonardo da Vinci’s mural “The Last Supper,” testify to centuries of art and culture. It was one of the most glorious of the Italian Comuni during the Middle Ages. It housed one of Italy’s most spectacular courts during the Renaissance. And so on. Leonardo da Vinci came from Florence looking for work and ended up staying a long time and achieving quite a lot, like many others have done since. Having always been in the thick of things, Milano is gifted with an impressive part of Italy’s heritage: it is a great city of art.

Milan is the hub of Italian culture, music, media and sports. If you are a music lover, you can’t miss La Scala. If you are a sports fan, no other city can probably boast two soccer powerhouses like Inter Milan and AC Milan. With so many things to do and see, take the time to simply enjoy yourself – relax and sip an aperitivo while you consider your options for dinner. Milan provides an overwhelming dining experience, as all Italian regional cuisines are richly represented, along with many others from the rest of the world.

Milan has one main shopping area, a square made up of the following streets: Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Montenapoleone. They form what is colloquially called the Quadrilatero d’Oro (rectangle of gold).

The Italian equivalent of ‘happy hour’ is an aperitivo, which the Milanese lay claim to having invented. It’s a time to relax in a bar or café with some finger food and a drink or two, and normally takes place between 7pm and 9pm.

 

Here are our tips on some of the must see places to visit while you’re in town.

Duomo di Milano:

Emerging from the steamy subway station at the Piazza del Duomo, look up and you can’t help but be blown away by the enormous white marble façade of Milan’s cathedral. Centre of Milan is fabulously beautiful. The most outstanding architectural building is the Duomo, the cathedral. Duomo is striking by its grandeur and size. Milano Duomo is the one thing that everyone should see in Milan. The interior of the Duomo is different than most Roman Catholic churches. It is not as richly decorated as the St. Peter’s Cathedral or other well-known churches. This of course is typical of the Gothic style. Huge stained-glass windows and paintings of different scenes from the Bible hanging from the ceiling dominate its interiors spaces. One of the very best experiences Milan has to offer is a trip to the Duomo’s roof. You wander through a forest of spires and statues on the roof of the Duomo. The amount of detail on the external facade is mind-blowing. Entering the sanctuary, you are confronted with a dizzying array of art and beauty. I found the craftsmanship, of all things, the tiles on the floor, to be exquisitely done.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II:

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest active shopping mall and a major landmark of Milan, Italy. Housed within a four-story double arcade in the centre of town, the Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. This beautiful covered shopping area is so awesome and stunning that we found ourselves standing inside of it, just staring at it randomly throughout our visit there! It’s filled with big-name high-end stores that will impress any big shopper, and the quaint little restaurants that are scattered will amaze you as well. Just being there is an experience in itself.

Da Vinci’s Last Supper (Santa Maria delle Grazie):

The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci (Cenacolo Vinciano) is one of the most famous paintings in the world. This artwork was painted between 1494 and 1498 under the government of Ludovico il Moro and represents the last “dinner” between Jesus and his disciples.

Leonardo’s Last Supper is located in its original place, on the wall of the dining room of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, exactly in the refectory of the convent and is one of the most celebrated and well known artworks in the world.

Sforza Castle & Parco Sempione:

It was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe.

This castle is within easy reach by Metro & is also within walkable distance from the Duomo. It is a beautiful large castle and it’s origins date back to the 14th century. Just behind it is a huge park – Parco Sempione. At the other end of this park is a beautful marble structure – Arco della Pace.
We passed an enjoyable afternoon going round the castle and walking in the park. Definitely worth a visit if you’re staying in Milan. Also walked through the park from one end to the other and it is BIG. It was a sunny day and was full of people, a mixture of locals and tourists. Obviously a very popular place to hang out at weekends for families and couples. Lots going on and very clean and well kept.

Central Station Milan:

What a stunning train station used on a commute to Lake Como and just missed our train by 1 minute but the next 2 hours was fun popping in all the shops, eating in the cafes and looking at all the architecture. Well, Milano central station is something to visit, it was built in the 30’s and has very grand building and amazing to observe, it is large and huge and has very interesting artist urge items to observe, stroll around, visit the shops and most important observe it from the front grandeur facade it will amaze you.

Teatro alla Scala Milan:

Teatro alla Scala can seat two thousand visitors and is one of the best opera and ballet theatres in the world. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala.

 

A famous Italian proverb compares the cities of Milan and Rome, and roughly translates as, ‘Rome is a voluptuous woman whose gifts are very apparent, while Milan is the shy, demure girl whose treasures are plentiful, but discovered in time.’