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flygirl Feb 19th, 2010 03:45 AM

Third time visitor to Lake Como seeks new things to do and see.
Hello everyone

The current plan is to visit Italy again, this time with my Dad too. UK has been shelved this summer, or rather the anticipated 2 week trip. I certainly hope to at least visit London for another long weekend.

If plans stay settled, it will be 6 nights on Lake Como before we move on to Venice. This will be my third trip (also my Mom's third trip).

I'm trying to figure out new things to do - having been there twice we've already visited a number of villas for instance (some of which we will see again with Dad in tow). We went on a seaplane ride the last time, too.

So far, here is what I have. I was wondering if anyone else had other ideas too. As I find more I will come back and post them here so that this can be kind of a repository of "things to do and see" on Lake Como.

We have spent little time wandering Como itself, time permitting, we may at least take the funicular ride. Friends of mine usually stay in Cernobbio and rave about it so we might have to check that out if we have time. We also haven't been to Isola Comancina.

There is a slice of WWII history here in that Mussolini was executed on the western side of the Lake (Mezzagra?).

There is a small castle high above Varenna and I may try that hike this trip. We stay at the Eremo Gaudio so we already get great views.

We went to Milan the last time for all of four hours. This time we might actually get reservations for The Last Supper.

I have yet to venture much north of Varenna/Menaggio. Am I missing out on much by not doing so?

Thanks for any comments.

Cimbrone Feb 19th, 2010 04:34 AM

Definitely see the Villa Carlotta. Gorgeous.

North of Varenna is Colico, which has a nice waterfront. There's a terrific restaurant in one of the hotels with outdoor seating and great pizza, pasta and seafood. I forget the name, but it's on the southern end of the "square."

flygirl Feb 19th, 2010 07:34 AM

Thanks Cimbrone. I've driven north along the western side (heading back to Munich) but we didn't stop. Is a visit to Colico worth taking part of one day away from the rest of it - on such a short trip I mean.

HappyTrvlr Feb 19th, 2010 07:53 AM

You should definitely take a ferry north to visit the Abbey of Piona. The scenery becomes more dramatic as you sail north;the Abbey is historical and is a nice stop.
We have been to Lake Como three times, once for tow weeks and never ran out of things to do. Villa Balbianello is a big favorite of ours. We were pleasantly surpried by the city of Como too.

jgg Feb 19th, 2010 09:48 AM

flygirl - we will be in Lake Como for our first time this July. Could you give me some info. on the seaplane ride - ie website, cost, did you enjoy it?

flygirl Feb 19th, 2010 10:31 AM

HappyTrvlr, thank you for the reco!

jgg, it is Aeroclub Como and it is located in Como. We enjoyed it immensely. I can't remember exactly, I think it was around 200E but don't quote me on that.

I found another website with "things to do"

Anyone know of any local photographers to follow around for part of a day? I won't be there long enough for an actual workshop.

Jean Feb 19th, 2010 04:11 PM

The last time we hiked to the Vezio Castle ruins above Varenna, there was a falcon breeding and training station within the castle complex. I think it's still there. We were lucky in our timing, as the falcon keeper released one bird while we were there, and we were able to watch the bird fly for several minutes. The views from the castle are fantastic on a clear day. If your time is short, it's possible to take a bus to the castle and walk down to Varenna. If you want to catch the falcons in training, ask your hotel if there's a schedule or if they would call to inquire for you.

schnauzer Feb 19th, 2010 08:27 PM

Have you see Villa Balbianello near Lenno? If not, then that would surely have to go on the new list.


primeranoche Feb 20th, 2010 01:03 AM

If you want to something quite different, there is regular bus service from Menaggio to Locarno in Switzerland.

The road is very twisty, and the bus ride is about 40 minutes, so it's not for people who get car sick.

I believe you can also take a bus to Lugano from Menaggio, but I've never done it.

The ferry ride across the lake from Varenna to Menaggio is 15 minutes, and the bus stops are in the main piazza, about a 5 minute walk from the ferry dock.

alihutch Feb 20th, 2010 02:36 AM

The Silk museum in Como
take the cable car from Argengo to Pigra
check out what's on at

in Como
The Moto Guzzi factory/museum open in Mandello del Lario only open 1500-1600 Monday to Friday

30km long waymarked walking route along the ridge between Como and Bellagio

This site has info also

flygirl Feb 20th, 2010 04:39 AM

Jean, good tip - I will check it out. I'd say a visit to this castle is a definite because it's right above our hotel.

Schnauzer, I have been there and it's BEAUTIFUL. We are going again, this is a certainty. Here are some of the photos I took of it:

primeranoche, thanks, that might be a nice day trip.

alihutch, thank you! The Moto Guzzi factory sounds cool. The ridge walk sounds great too. That lakecomoapartment has some great links and info on it.

alihutch Feb 20th, 2010 05:03 AM

This might whet your appetite...

flygirl Feb 20th, 2010 10:50 AM

alihutch, thanks!

Jean Feb 20th, 2010 01:52 PM

Lugano is an easy day trip from Menaggio.

I don't think there is direct bus service from Menaggio to Locarno. I think you'd go first to Lugano and possibly change to a second bus for another 45 minutes. If there is a direct bus from Menaggio to Locarno, I'd love to hear about it because I'm always looking for nice, easy excursions from Lake Como.

flygirl Feb 21st, 2010 04:13 AM

Jean, thanks for the link. I think we could also ask our hotel about excursions.

I found a few more things to add:

I was told to check out the village of Erba, which is south of Bellagio - in between the "legs". There is also a cycling shrine in Ghisallo, not far away.

Apparently there is a Villa Erba which is not the same as Erba mentioned above. I'm not sure if this is a "big deal" compared to other villas, but it came up when I googled Erba.

Additionally there is a hut called the Rifugio Martina which apparently has stunning views and is also a restaurant.

I found the above on flickr - I queried an Italian photographer regarding her lovely photo and asked her where she took it. She said the below:

those pictures were both captured from a mountain hut called "Rifugio Martina". It is also a restaurant where you can have lunch or dinner.
You need to reach by car a little village called "Magreglio", than follow for "Piano Rancio" and after follow "località San Primo" or "Rifugio Martina". At a certain point the road ends, you need to park your car and after a 15 minutes walk you reach the hut with panoramic view."

See URL:

Her photo which prompted my query is this one:

Menaggio has a great website with lots of things to do and see:

Something on GoNomad:

I hope this thread proves useful to travelers to Lake Como! More ideas would be great, too.

flygirl Feb 21st, 2010 04:54 AM

Some info on hiking. I doubt I'll do any of these (other than the castle, and maybe the church perched high on the hill above Menaggio) on this trip especially with almost-70 YO parents in tow.

Big_Red Feb 21st, 2010 05:40 AM

Things on or near the lake
There is a WW I fort (cannon enplacement, the cannons face north) just outside Colico. When we last tried to see it, it was only open on Saturdays.

There are alot of mountain refugi in the area. I believe that you can drive to Rufugi Buffalora on the west side of the lake. The road leaves the lake near/at Argegno.

One interesting excursion: take the 11:45am boat from Bellagio to Lecco. That boat ties up for an hour while the crew has lunch and leaves for Bellagio at 2:00pm. The Lecco leg of the lake is less built-up than the Como leg.

If you are going to have a car then I would order some maps. Kompass (Germany), Touring club of Italy and GlobalMap are all pretty good.

You can drive to Vezio (the castle above Varenna). I have read that there is even a bus but have no personal experience with the bus.

Big_Red Feb 21st, 2010 06:05 AM

There is a lunch boat that leaves Como at noon. When we took it, they used a car ferry. There are no vehicles onthe boat so the photographers take over the low level. The diners and dining room are on the second level. Leaves Como at noon arrives Bellagio at 2:30pm.

Big_Red Feb 21st, 2010 06:09 AM

You also can rent you own power boat. Evidently, if the motor is less than 40 or 35 horsepower, then you only need a drivers license. Rent-A-Boat near Dongo. Supposedly another vendor in Lezzeno, don't remember the name tho'.

alihutch Feb 21st, 2010 06:16 AM

You can also rent a boat from 'Rent Fun Boats' in Faggeto Lario...there's a link on the site I posted earlier...

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