Lake Como

Monday, September 17, 2018
Lezzeno, Lombardy, Italy
We flew to Malpensa from Luton with Rebecca and Mark and after picking up our car, drove to Lezzono, a small village on Lake Como, where we had hired a house. This was right on the lake front, well furnished and all we needed to ensure a great stay, see To make things even more convenient there was a small grocery store 30 m up the street which stocked all types of goodies. We were able to unpack, unwind, Sue even went for a swim, (the lake was surprisingly warm) and that evening, we relaxed with beautiful antipasto, Aperol Spritz and a glass of wine, actually a few glasses of wine.
The best way to see any of the lakes is by ferry using a day pass which enables you to jump on and off wherever you feel like. First stop was Lenno where there was  their weekly market – mainly cheap clothes but some nice local cheeses and meats. From there we went to one of our favourite places on Lake Como, Varenna. There is a short walk along the lakes edge to a series of wonderful restaurants right on the water. It’s actually true that a good pizza in Italy is incomparable, especially with a local red wine and overlooking wonderful scenery. From day 1, Rebecca and Mark were in awe of the area and loved the food.
For our time on Lake Como, most days consisted of catching the ferry or local bus and admiring the amazing scenery and exploring the beautiful towns along the lake edge. One of the most famous villas is Villa Balbianello, an Italian National Trust property featured in the 2006 version of the Bond movie, Casino Royale (maybe George Clooney’s house is now more famous but no-one was saying which one it was). Bellagio which is the most well-known of all the lake towns, is very pretty being right on the apex where the two arms of Lake Commo meet, but is very up-market with designer shops and expensive galleries. There is also the famous Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, one of the three luxury hotels on Lake Como, the others being Villa d’Este and the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. All worth a visit.
Above Varenna there is the Castello di Vezio dating from the 11th century. One of the reasons for heading up there is that on the path to the castle is Le Ceramiche di Vezio, a ceramic gallery specialising in Raku ceramics which had some fantastic pieces. We bought a beautiful sculpture which we were able to get home safely and will soon be on display in our new extension. The castle is basically a fortification and there are amazing views of Lake Como. We managed to walk back down to Varenna and had a well-deserved lunch overlooking the lake.
Como is the major commercial city on the lake with a population of about 85,000. The central part is dominated by the cathedral which dates back to 1396 and features some 16th and 17th century tapestries and some 16th century paintings. As with any large Italian city, the main shopping area is full of fashion shops and fabulous restaurants – this probably sums up Italy – spectacular scenery, fashion and food.
On the way home, we stopped and had a drink at the Villa d”Este, one of the great hotels in Europe. The main part was built as a summer residence in 1568 and has been a favourite hotel for European aristocracy since 1873. It is elegance personified – marble, staircases, beautiful antique furniture and 10 acres of magnificent gardens with fountains and sculptures.The six days on Lake Como went very quickly and then it was time to move on to Stresa on Lake Maggiore.