Which Lake Como town?

Old Jun 14th, 2016, 01:46 PM
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Which Lake Como town?

We plan spend 3 or 4 nights on Lake Como next May. Which town would you suggest staying in? We've stayed in Bellagio many many years ago but read about how touristy/crowded it is now. We want a town that has access to shops and restaurants but not swarming with tourists day and night.
Any suggestions?
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 01:50 PM
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How do you plan to spend your days on the lake? What do you want to see/do? Any random town might not make sense with your sightseeing itinerary.
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 02:42 PM
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We were in Bellagio in mid May 2015. It was really pretty uncrowded. And I hate crowds. It is considered early time in terms of tourism. Easy to take ferry to all the other towns.
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 02:59 PM
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(We had originally planned on staying in Varenna. We were glad we didn't -- very little was open yet)
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 05:16 PM
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Bellagio is more centrally located.Yes, there are lots of tourists there in the day, but they kind of go away at night. We liked Varenna to visit.
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 05:31 PM
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We were in Varenna in 2012 for 5 nights and were happy with the locale. We traveled to Mennagio, across the lake, and its amenities were nice, as well.

Buon viaggio,
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 03:49 AM
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Even if the crowds thin out, Bellagio is always a very touristy town. The language you hear on the streets, even in the evening, is mostly English, with a little German and French thrown in. When we tried to order something in a lakeside bar, the waitress asked us if we could speak English!

I needed sun lotion one day and couldn't find a single shop in the centre of town selling practical things. I bought some in a very overpriced pharmacy, for five times what it was worth. Later I found a small supermarket near our hotel, which was outside the center.

Varenna was somewhat less touristy, but not by a lot.
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 04:40 AM
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We have stayed both in Varenna and in Mennaggio and like them both. Latter is larger with a bit more to do. Former has a bit more charm IMO. We enjoy day tripping to Bellagio but have never considered staying there.
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 04:53 AM
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Tremezzo is a cute little town, with an excellent ferry connection to Bellagio. One the the lake's most beautiful mansions, Villa Carlotta, is right in town and there is a good selection of hotels and restaurants of all classes in town (we stayed at Grand Hotel Tremezzo but preferred the restaurant of Hotel La Darsena).
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 05:49 AM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. Sounds like Bellagio, Varenna and Mennaggio are the top choices.
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 06:50 AM
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Regardless of what you read from the people who think they know Lake Como, you're not going to find a ton of tourists in the month of May in any town on Lake Como. It's a beautiful month to visit, but it can still be quite cold in the mornings and evenings, and many kids are still in school in May.

Trust me, Lake Como's towns have plenty of year-round residents. The suggestion that English-speakers have somehow invaded and taken over, based on one visit, is silly and ludicrous.

Lake Como is a vacation destination, something it has always been. Many Italians have second homes there. Second homes are also popular with the Brits, the French, and the Germans. Americans comprise about 20% of Lake Como's visitors. The statistics are not difficult to find.

You simply can't believe everything you read on the internet, especially from people who pose as an authority and love to spout their anti-English or anti-American gibberish.
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 07:50 AM
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NYCFoodSnob: Thanks for your opinion. We are now thinking of stopping here on the back end of our trip, which would put us there in mid June.
Which town would you stay in if visiting in mid June? Does it start to get crowded then?
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 08:19 AM
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I've been living in New York City since I was a teenager. The word "crowded" is subjective to your own perspective. There have been times when I've been in Italy when the crowds reached the level of New Year's Eve at Times Square. Crossing the Rialto Bridge during Carnivale comes to mind. My neighborhood near Union Square is wall-to-wall people at lunch time and during rush hour.

I have never experienced that level of crowded on Lake Como no matter what month I've been there. I've spent a lot of time on the lake in the last ten years for business and pleasure, from Como to Bellano, and you can't possibly compare the crowds on the lake to Venice or Florence during the same months. Lake Como almost feels empty to me, but that's from my perspective. I find the lake incredibly quiet, no matter how many visitors are there.

July is the busiest month for weddings, so if there are crowds, many are well-dressed wedding attendees. July also tends to be the hottest month. June is a beautiful month to enjoy the floral gardens. There are plenty of tourists taking the ferries, so you may feel some congestion at the docks, especially in Bellagio, since it's the most popular visitor destination. Weekends at the train station in Varenna can be busy, especially departures on a Saturday morning. But, from my perspective, the crowds are never insane, no matter what month you visit.
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 10:20 AM
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NYCSnob: Thanks again for your perspective. I like a buzz of people but not too many, like in Florence or Venice at peak season. Glad to hear that you don't find Lake Como too crowded.

Which of the towns do you stay in? We really liked Bellagio the last time but that was many years ago.
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 11:11 AM
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On the west side of the lake, my two favorite hotels are Villa d'Este and Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Very few hotels beat Villa d'Este in style, food, and luxury service, but for visuals, I prefer the drama of the mid-lake region. Both hotels have floating pools which I adore.

I have several favorite rooms on the east side of the lake in four different hotels, but if you want to stay in Varenna, which is my favorite base, you can't expect luxury accommodations or service. I have favorite chefs in Varenna, as well.

I visit Bellagio. I love Villa Melzi. But the views from Bellagio don't excite me, so I refuse to stay there. Bellagio is in the middle of the lake and it faces west, so I don't find that experience visually exciting. There is a room or two in Hotel Belvedere which offers spectacular views. If I couldn't get one of those rooms, I would not stay in Bellagio. As much as I adore the architecture of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, the experience pales in comparison to Villa d'Este. The views from Grand Hotel Tremezzo are more dramatic than anything the Serbelloni has to offer. I do not like the interior decoration of the Serbelloni.
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 11:26 AM
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Thank you NYCFoodSnob for your recommendations. I will check out the hotels you recommend as well as what's available in Varenna.
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 01:19 PM
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Most of the Italians who vacation on Lake Como do so in towns other than those mentioned here. And anyone who denies that English speakers outnumber Italian speakers in Bellagio and Varenna is just not telling you the truth. My husband and I were asked by a waitress if we could speak English when we ordered something at a lakeside bar in Bellagio.

I mentioned to the owner of our hotel that I hadn't seen any Italian tourists in Bellagio (and I mean 0). She said, "We do get some Italians in August."

Yes, I've only been to Bellagio once, and that will remain that way. Let's just say it's not my kind of place.
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 03:16 PM
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Speaking of stubborn and hard-headed…

<i><font color=#555555>"I've only been to Bellagio once, and that will remain that way."</font></i>

One visit tells an infinitesimal story. IMO, people who make strong, definitive declarations based on one visit have ZERO credibility. Continually pushing the declaration simply exhibits insecurity and stubbornness.

<i><font color=#555555>"Most of the Italians who vacation on Lake Como do so in towns other than those mentioned here."</font></i>

I honestly fail to understand how one visit can make any Irish woman, who happens to live in a small, Umbrian town, an authority on "Italians who vacation on Lake Como."

Most of the folks who live year round in Bellagio <b>are</b> Italian. Lake Como <b>is</b> in Italy. Personally, I don't seek out relationships with <i>vacationing</i> Italians. I'm not a census-taker. Mostly, I deal and have built relationships with Italians who live and work there.

With its unique position in the center of the lake, many tourists find Bellagio quaint and charming. There is a reason why it's the most popular city to visit on the lake. Depending on the time of year, around 8:30 PM, from any ferry approaching Bellagio's docks, Bellagio sparkles. With its city lights twinkling off the water's surface, coupled by a cobalt blue backdrop, featuring snow-capped mountains in the distance, the visual effect is spectacular!

Of all the cities in the mid-lake region, Bellagio offers the most shopping opportunities. I prefer Como for shopping, but I never visit Lake Como with a shopping agenda. Italy offers more fabulous locations for that. However, one can still find some lovely silk in Como, and there's a fun kitchen/home store, too, and plenty of fashion stores. IMO, the shopping options in Bellagio aren't very exciting.

<i><font color=#555555>"And anyone who denies that English speakers outnumber Italian speakers in Bellagio and Varenna is just not telling you the truth."</font></i>

I've never taken a survey. Who cares if English outnumbers Italian? Lake Como is an international vacation destination, so I imagine that English is the most common language spoken by its visitors. I have no problem speaking Italian with my friends who live and work in Varenna.

<i><font color=#555555>"My husband and I were asked by a waitress if we could speak English when we ordered something at a lakeside bar in Bellagio."</font></i>

There is a program that invites young people from around the world to work in popular places on Lake Como during high season. This is not unusual for vacation destinations that mostly do business during the warmer months of the year.

<i><font color=#555555>"We do get some Italians in August"</font></i>

Many Italians are smart. August is the best month to visit Lake Como.
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 04:40 PM
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[re: Varenna -- see my post on June 14th.]
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Old Jun 18th, 2016, 04:35 AM
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Much like DebitNM, we stayed in Bellagio in mid-May (15 thru 17) mid-week (Tue thru Thu) in 2012 and found it not to be crowded at all. We were fortunate to have good weather and we all fell completely in love with Bellagio. Varenna and Menaggio were nice to visit but Bellagio was the right choice for us to stay.

You can click on my name to find my trip report and below is a link to way too many pictures from our time at Lake Como.

https://john183italy2012.shutterfly.com/pictures/423
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