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10 Days at Lake Como - Must Do Recommendations??

10 Days at Lake Como - Must Do Recommendations??

Jul 31st, 2009, 09:15 AM
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Hi tsto,

Regarding question #2 above ... I'll qualify this answer by saying that I haven't been to the region for about 5 years, and when there stayed mostly in the Varenna-Bellagio-Menaggio area. My impressions from that sector were that "nightlife" opportunities were slim-to-non-existent. The region is big on beautiful scenery, spectacular villas and gardens, good restaurants, and is a place where most people go to relax.

The nightlife that I saw was limited to an after-dinner drink in either the restaurant or at our hotel (The Du Lac in Varenna), and maybe a late night walk along the lake promenade. But as far as any exciting clubs or bars with live music, for example, I didn't see anything.

Maybe there's something more along those lines in a place like Como, which is a much bigger city than the small towns further north on the Lake.

As far as personal safety, I'd call the area very safe, other than the obvious as you mentioned.
phillyboy is offline  
Jul 31st, 2009, 10:01 AM
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tsto -

Bicycling - I have seen bicyclists on the roads around the lake, but mainly younger men dressed in all the high tech gear on high tech bikes looking like they are out on training rides - riding very fast and taking it all quite seriously. The roads around the lake are narrow and winding for the most part and the cars are travelling fast - not the most comfortable situation for the average bicyclist, I'm afraid. In the town of Como, maybe. Most of the lakeside towns are quite hilly - Moltrasio is a very steep climb up from lakeside. The road from Menaggio to Tremezzo is level and not so highly trafficked, and the roads around Lenno and north from there aren't too bad either, but they are all pretty narrow.

Nightlife - I agree with phillyboy for the most part, it's pretty quiet in many of the lakeside towns. There's a little more action in Como, but mainly people dining late. Moltrasio actually might be your best bet for live music - the Grand Hotel Imperiale at lakeside in Moltrasio had a bar with live music when I was there about 4 years ago. You might also find some nightlife at Hotel d'Este at Cernobbio.
julia1 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2009, 10:50 AM
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Are there car-free zones or at least ZTL areas?

Those might be better for bicycling.
scrb is offline  
Jul 31st, 2009, 10:58 AM
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I envisioned it being more low key type of evening excursion with drinks on a deck or patio atmosphere...appreciate the input. (Drinks and an evening stroll sounds enjoyable too). I'm staying at the Grand Hotel Imperiale so I'll see if anything looks worthwhile there as well.

A couple of mentions now on bicycling the roads--may be wishful thinking as I'm not training for the Tour de France anytime soon and I wouldn't enjoy getting thumped by a vehicle. I will ask around about the roads not being as crowded and see if I can find an excursion or two when I'm there.

Great input from you both--thanks.
tsto is offline  
Jul 31st, 2009, 11:41 AM
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I would highly recommend Chef Moreno's cooking class in Varenna- it was amazing! Chef or his wife pick you up from downtown Varenna and drives you through the hills which is an experience in itself His restaurant/home is charming and the food was amazing. He pours wine for the entire 3-4 hours and even allows time to walk through his rural village which was a treat.

My only regret is losing my copious notes...I blame all of the wine

Here's the website- hope you have an incredible trip!
CATravelBug is offline  
Jul 31st, 2009, 02:23 PM
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Cycling is huge in the Lake Como area. At one time, Lance Armstrong lived and trained there, and in the spring you'll see huge pelotons on training rides.

Lombardy is Northern Italy's cycling center. The last professional cycling race in Europe is traditionally held in the middle of October and is always Il Giro di Lombardia, the Race of Lombardy. The course of this race (and often a stage of the Giro d'Italia) passes the chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron saint of cyclists, which is located 10-12 kms. south of Bellagio. A museum of cycling was recently built adjacent to the chapel.


The cycling routes in the following link are likely too ambitious, but you might be able to extract segments for a short ride or two. If you need less demanding terrain, look a little south and then west from Cernobbio toward Novazzano. (www.maps.google.com on the "Terrain" setting is great for this kind of research.)


Your hotel is partnered with one of the local cycling tour companies, so hotel staff should be able to give you information about rides and rentals or direct you to an outside source. Below is a link to the tour company that lodges its clients at the Imperiale. Their tours appear to be only multi-day and for somewhat serious riders.

Jean is online now  
Jul 31st, 2009, 07:27 PM
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Ahhh, I knew there was someone out there with some bicycling info! Thanks for the links!! I was wanting to find the museum of cycling but hadn't had a chance to do the internet surfing yet. The maps are exactly what I was hoping for--thank you! I didn't realize my hotel was affiliated with cycle tour companies either so that will be very helpful. Much appreciated!!

The cooking class is something entirely new that I hadn't thought of--I'm a bit intrigued and will have to look into that further...it might be a nice add to my itinerary--thank you!
tsto is offline  
Aug 1st, 2009, 08:55 AM
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tsto, getting to Ghisallo is not easy without a car. You can taxi from Bellagio, but that gets expensive if you want to spend more than 15 minutes or so which is enough time to see the chapel but not enough time to explore the museum. FYI, this is not a museum in the usual sense. As the collection of memorabilia and relics became too large to house in the chapel, the "museo" was built to display the overflow. It's not encyclopedic; the focus is almost entirely on Italian cyclists. Fascinating nevertheless.
Jean is online now  
Aug 1st, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Julia- wow, your photos are OMG good! It's amazing those places don't look real but from a dream.
sheri_lp is offline  
Aug 1st, 2009, 11:36 AM
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So cars are necessary to move around?

But what is the parking situation and ZTL?
scrb is offline  
Aug 1st, 2009, 12:24 PM
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Cars are not necessary. The boats provide access to about a dozen and a half lake-front towns. But if want to leave the lake-front and go uphill then a car is the most convenient way.

Madonna di Ghisallo is well away from the lake-front. There may be bus service to Ghisallo but I have no particulars on the bus service.
Big_Red is offline  
Aug 1st, 2009, 01:49 PM
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We looked into bus service on one of our visits. Yes, you can get to Ghisallo and back from Bellagio, but the schedule is not tourist friendly. It would work if you timed a one-way taxi ride from Bellagio to Ghisallo to give you an opportunity to see the chapel and museum before the bus to Bellagio arrived. Not knowing the level of your interest in Italian pro cycling, I can't tell you how long exploring the museum might take.
Jean is online now  
Aug 2nd, 2009, 08:10 AM
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Thanks everyone--good to know this is further removed from the lake. I'll look into a taxi or renting for a day. I think I would really enjoy visiting this one!
tsto is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2009, 08:34 AM
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You are getting great info and I can add little other than that I've gone there several times, usually a week at a time, and staying in Bellagio. It's definitely a region for beauty and outdoor enjoyment vs. nightlife.

We did a fair amount of walking and hiking, took the ferry boats around the lake, and the like; and we also took a bus from Menaggio to Lugano, Switzerland, which was a pleasant day excursion, though it's not tremendously culturally distinct from the Italian lake area (IMO) other than a preponderance of watch shops and using cash other than Euros.

Another possibility would be to take a ferry to Cernobbio have lunch at Villa D'Este, if you want to see those gardens or see a bit of the Villa, which is now a rather pricey hotel.

However (having done that), I wish I'd spent the time to go to Bergamo, reachable by train from the lake.

(We've generally gone without a car in this region due to availability of boat service and lack of parking as you mention.)
annw is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 08:59 AM
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Thanks to your responses I have a really wonderful trip coming together. I appreciate the time taken by everyone to share their experiences. Thank you & Happy Travels!
tsto is offline  
Dec 19th, 2009, 05:00 PM
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scrb is offline  
Dec 19th, 2009, 09:16 PM
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You can walk up behind Cadenabbia to the sanctuary and get stunning views over the lake. From the lake it looks ridiculously high but it's not a difficult or long walk.
dreamon is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 04:03 PM
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