TO CASTELLO BARADELLO
On the one side of the Como town centre is the lake and on the other side for a 30-40 minute walk you can reach the top of Castello Baradello which is the remains of a military fort high up on the hill, visible from the streets alongside Lake Como. A nice steady incline leads you to the top where the most beautiful views of the town can be seen. Unfortunately for me I decided to ascend the hill on a day that was pouring with rain. I didn’t mind though (until about half way up when I was soaked through and realising that I was crazy) but I reached the top panting and soaking wet only to find that the castle was closed and the gates bolted shut!
Apparently it’s quite common for the castle to be closed at random times of the year but if you are sneaky there is a gap over the stone fence that can be jumped. There are security cameras watching, but I figured the police have more pressing issues than chasing down a drowned-rat tourist trying to steal a view. It is not possible to get to the top of the tower when it’s closed but you can climb the stairs half way up for a decent view. This was worth doing in Como, you can get the gondola up to the top of one of the hills also but this view is free!
Como is a beautiful town to just spend an afternoon or evening. With beautiful buildings and stunning lake views, a walk around the lake is a great way to see Como. It is also a fairly small place so feels a lot more relaxed than some of the other old towns of Italy. Take a walk around the square, have a gelato and just sit and enjoy the lakeside view.
One of the must dos when in Como is to take a boat ride (or several) to explore all of the lakeside villages and to see their unique offerings. I was lucky enough to have my couch surfing host provide me with an excellent itinerary to see some great places. An all day pass for several zones costs 23.30 euro and you are on your own schedule. You can also do an organized tour for not much more but you will need to stick to the schedule and the places they have picked. My itinerary began in Villa Carlotta.
COMO – VILLA CARLOTTA
Villa Carlotta is a villa that was built for the Milanese marquis Giorgio Clerici in the late 1600’s. It is based in the town of Tremezzo but has it’s own boat stop just shortly down the lake from Tremezzo.The villa itself contains beautiful marble sculptures and the real furniture used by the family. Surrounding the villa is a vast area dedicated to gardens and water features. Cost of entry is 6 euro for students.
VILLA CARLOTTA – BELLAGIO
From Villa Carlotta I took another boat to the commune of Bellagio. Bellagio is a beautiful place with many narrow alleyways to explore that branch off of steep teetering steps rising up towards the more residential area. Bellagio is extremely popular with tourists and in turn is fairly expensive. It is mainly a place to shop with many unique shops offering locally made goods and Como silk. I enjoyed an extremely tasty cheese platter here from a hidden and cosy enoteca with well-priced wines (written up in the world table section)
BELLAGIO – LENNO
My final stop in my tour was in the perfect little getaway spot named Lenno. Lenno is very small and a great place to relax on the “beach” with several spots for sunbathing and swimming along the lakeside. There is a walk there that is only about 1.5kms up the hill slightly and towards another beautiful vila. This walk gives you amazing views of the lake, perfect if the sun is setting. I had an extremely good gelato from an extremely busy gelateria! It was well worth the wait, caramelised fig and white chocolate. Perfecto!