Which Lake Como town for hub ?

Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 12:22 PM
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Which Lake Como town for hub ?

I will be traveling by train from Torino to the Lake Como area. What would be your suggestions for a town to spend about 5 days to use as a hub to tour the Lake Como area ?
I'll use boats & buses as my transportation from the town I end up selecting. If you have any suggestions on the towns and why, hotels ( about 75-100 E), sites to see , etc. any of the info would be apprciated. Reading the searches I have performed so far on Como has helped , now Im just trying to narrow the details down. Grazie!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 12:32 PM
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I think you could do well with any of the "main three" at mid-lake - - Bellagio (center), Menaggio (west) or Varenna (east); each has its fans here.

If you like the idea of exploring by car - - which is not a bad idea - - Menaggio is probably the best connected to "outside" the lake area (for example, Lugano, or anywhere west of Milan. Varenna is the only one of the three connected by train. Both have a less touristy feel than Bellagio, but Bellagio is (only slightly) touristy for a good reason - - it's the crown jewel, beautiful, glamorous and far more bedecked with the touches of richness and luxury. And seeing your way around the lake by water travel only is certainly a viable plan.

Whichever, don't miss Villa Balbianello (accessible ONLY by boat, with a few rare exceptions), and its closest cousin (in spectacle), Villa Carlotta.

Going to lunch or dinner at Villa d'Este (Cenobbio) is also a special treat - - an easy 30 minute drive back towards Como from Menaggio (though the same could be said from B or V, since the ferry would allow you to move your car from one side to the other - - but watch to see when is the last ferry to get you back "home").

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 02:56 PM
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Without a car, Bellagio is probably your best bet, as it has the most convenient and complete ferry schedule of the towns.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 05:27 AM
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Lorenzi - When are you going? If it's sometime soon, Bellagio and Varenna are pretty quiet (- read 'dead') in low season.

Personally Menaggio is my favourite of the three anyway - with or without a car.

Steve
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 08:17 AM
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Steve, why is Menaggio your favorite?
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 09:17 AM
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We were in Bellaggio for several days in September some years ago. Without a car to take you further afield, five days seems a lot for Lake Como unless you're into heavy relaxation. And it would be even quieter off-season. Maybe 4 nights/3 days would be better.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 02:53 PM
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Thanks for the valuable input so far.
In answer to Steve's question - mid May. I second Lorac's question about Menaggio.
From what I have been reading Menaggio sounds like a good point to hit many of the towns on the west side. I have also read a little about hiking trails in the Menaggio area. Bellagio as indicated, also appears to be good due to the number of ferry's in & out and number of available apartments.
As to lenght I may stay a week now as I could get a apartment for a week for the price of a hotel for 5 days.
I like to explore the small towns and since there are so many just on Como's shores that should keep me busy, plus the parks and natural areas. With Lugano and some other Swiss towns close to Menaggio I could be there by bus in less then an hour. So far it looks like Como, Menaggio, Veranna, Bellagio & Griante are worth visting, I'm sure I'll read about others before my planning is done. I may even rent a scooter to have some "thrills" running around the hills of Como.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 03:21 PM
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If you're looking for a hotel in Menaggio, I highly recommend the Hotel Garni Corona - it's in the main piazza and many of the rooms look right out onto the lake. We had a double room with bath at the end of May last year for 65€. The place was spotless and the room was large, owners very friendly. I believe they have a web site, but I'm not sure what it is - you could do a google search.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 03:32 PM
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I haven't been to Menaggio, but I HAVE been to both Bellagio and Varenna (staying at the latter). I dunno, Bellagio's forte was that it seemed a bit poofy and pretentious, while Varenna is quaint and more working class, more of a natural beauty. Of those two, I would wholeheartedly recommend Varenna -- plus there are easy ferry connections to the entire lake from there and the train from Milan ALSO stops there. Convenient. BTW you (and everybody) can look at a spectacular picture I personally took of Varenna (from a ferry) on my website:

www.mbresso.com

SEE?! It IS beautiful! Why would you want to go anywhere else? Uh, btw, only the picture (and my 2001 itinerary are on this website, I've just never upgraded it...). But honestly, ultimately, although I stand by my personal opinion, I can't think you'd be disappointed with any Lake Como spot.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 06:51 PM
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I would stay in either Bellagio or Mennagio since they would offer more to do at night; restaurants, cafes and promonades along the lake. Varenna seemed a bit tamer.

The recommendation for the hotel in Menaggio seems very reasonable - more so than what you'll find in Bellagio.

The ferry frequencies are so good it doesn't much matter which town you choose for ease of getting places.

There's a TI in Bellagio at the passenger ferry dock where you can pick up a schedule. There are a couple of ferries; one that goes point to point and one that makes a loop around the lake. The folks in the TI are very helpful and they'll explain the different schedules. There are daily passes which you should buy if you'll make more than 2 trips in a day which you probably will since it's such fun to hop on and off the ferries.

The train will bring you to Varenna and it's a short walk downhill to the ferry to cross to whichever town you decide to stay in.

You'll have a great time...the lakes are lovely.

adrienne
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 07:17 PM
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Arriving by train, I would pick Varenna. The other two are both :15 away by boat--you will spend time in all 3.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 02:02 AM
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Lorenzi regarding staying in an apartment you might have a look at www.menaggio-apartments.com
We booked through this site and stayed at an apartment in Nobiallo (a comfortable 10 min walk north of Menaggio) I can certainly recommend it. I've forgotten the name of the gentleman who looks after bookings etc - and who met us in Menaggio and drove us to our accommodation, but he certainly was a pleasure to deal with and exceedingly helpful.
If you are keen on walks there are some very pleasant ones in this area. The Menaggio tourist bureau is very helpful in this regard. They have a double sided sheet detailing all the walks in the Menaggio area as well as an excellent booklet on walks around Lake Como generally.
Just in front of our apartment was the start of the walk along the old Roman road "L'Antica Strada Regina" and this is one not to be missed. It's not strenuous and takes you high above Lake Como with some spectacular views before finishing in the village of Rezzonico.
Another walk I can recommend - and this really is a very gentle stroll, is the one around Menaggio itself but which takes you to parts of the village away from the main tourist bits. Again the local tourist bureau has a brochure for this one.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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Why do I prefer Menaggio? Hmm - good question ...

I like the fact that it has a large 'resident' (- as opposed to seasonal) population - so you can wander into bars and trattorie and be among locals rather than fellow tourists.

I like the fact that it's unpretentious (- I share mbresso's point about Bellagio ...) - and that tourism isn't it's sole raison d'etre.

I like the fact that it's livelier in the evenings.

I love it's setting and cross-lake views.
I love the west coast drive (- tunnel-free, as opposed to the Varenna side ...) - and it's ease of access as a hub (- to Como, Lugano and the west coast villages).

As you can see, everyone has their favourite

Steve
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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We are thinking about the last district next year, and the last time we were there was 34 years ago...and that was just driving through and taking just enough time for lunch and boat ride.

So all this information is very helpful and gives lots of food for thought on where to stay and why. Thanks for the info Steve.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 09:50 AM
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We will be staying at Villa d'Este at the end of the month (May)...any suggestions for restaurants. We have three days. How best to see the area? Thanks.
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