Lake Como Towns and Villages
In Como, you will discover a lake hemmed by a plethora of vibrant towns and hillside villages. You could spend years discovering the nooks and crannies of everyone, but here are some flashes of what the area has to offer…
Domaso is a haven for watersports thanks to its mellow ‘La Breva’ breeze and little harbour which cradles windsurfers and sailors alike. The ancient fishing village also caters to the sporty soul by boasting tennis courts, a football pitch and a gym. Once you’ve built up your appetite with all this activity you can enjoy some old-fashioned dining in the area, with rustic Italian cuisine.
The steep narrow streets of Domaso gradually climb from the lakeside towards the mountains, providing some brilliantly picturesque entertainment for keen walkers. For those who prefer a less challenging gradient, the 18th century Villa Camilla is now an impressive town hall and the building hosts concerts, antique and art exhibitions and many other celebratory events in its stylish perimeters throughout the year. The gardens of Villa Camilla are aromatically carpeted in camellias, conifer, magnolia and lemon trees. St Bartholomew church is another elegant site; built in the 1500s the church holds frescoes of the Ligari and Silva families as well as the tomb of Luigi Panizza, Governer of the Forte di Fuentes.
Gravedona can be found in a bewitching gulf skirted with striking mountains; a great base for exploring the northern parts of Lake Como. The town is made up of several different hamlets including Negrana, San Carlo, Segna, Trevisa, Traversa, Consiglio di Rumo and Germasino.
As well as an abundance of watersports the town offers a selection of charming local squares, petite lanes and winding streets peppered with oldy-worldly churches and monuments in the ancient quarter. Well worth a glance are the original mosaics on the floors of the church of Santa Maria del Tiglio, which is constructed with black and white marble and built on the site of a 5th-century baptistery. Old and new make a classic contrast thanks to the contemporary promenade redevelopment. The San Vicenzo church was originally built in 1050 and still holds a crypt dating back to the 6th century today, despite the building itself having been rebuilt.
As well as plenty of indulgence for history lovers, Gravedona has spectacular views across Lake Como for naturalists. You can hire boats, swim, dive and try various watersports such as sailing in the lido area. There are also tennis courts and football pitches nearby and the hilly topography is a walker’s and cyclist’s dream.
Dongo’s small gulf attracts a lot of lakeside activity including watersports and is dotted with a selection of tempting eateries and shops. Water babies will have a whale of a time at the boat hire centre; a very impressive establishment in Dongo which will allow you to charter your very own vessel. Better still, the powerboats don’t require a licence to operate. You will also have the opportunity to try windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing.
The Palazzo del Vescovo, or Palace of the Bishop, was built in the 1600s by the Marquis Cossoni’s family and is now the Civic Institute of Music as well as the International Piano Academy of Lake Como; this is just one example of how thrillingly diverse the history of the lake’s architecture can be.
Musso is a pretty spot on the waterfront, sewn to terraced hillsides and sitting in the midst of magnificent topography. Choose between hillside strolls and watching the ferries come in at the small port for your afternoon entertainment. Musso is situated on the west side of Lake Como, tucked in the foot of a rocky spur named ‘Sasso di Musso.’
Thanks to the history of the marble mining trade in Musso, there are still exquisite Roman columns of San Lorenzo in Milan to witness. The Duomo in Como was also constructed using Musso marble. Musso certainly knows how to produce wonderful architecture, as is confirmed by the facade of the Romanesque San Biagio church with its three-round portals and two windows crowned by intricate arches. Meanwhile, the 17th century Church of St Eufemia has a beautiful portico and two pillars which unveil a stunning view of the castle which was historically used as a fortress by the brother of Pope Pius IV, Gian Giacomo De’Medici.
Musso is within a reasonable distance of Lido di Menaggio for a refreshing dip and pops into the Musso bakery on your way back for some especially tasty pastries and biscuits!
Menaggio is a rather famous town in the Como area which lights up the western shoreline. The waterside square is a gorgeous focal point and embellished with an eclectic variety of bars and restaurants to choose from. Al fresco dining is a must in Menaggio as it allows you to see the milky lights of the town ripple in the waters under the dark sky. Menaggio’s small marina also offers views across to the romantic Bellagio and Varenna and it is these three towns which make up the central triangle of Lake Como.
Thanks to its situation halfway along the western shore of Lake Como, Menaggio has also historically been a link between the Como Valley of Italy and the Lugano Valley of Switzerland. The town actually has a rather tempestuous past after it was destroyed during the Ten Years War in the 12th century. Aside from ancient stories and culture, Menaggio is an excellent base from which to explore the Val Menaggio, as well as indulging in outdoor public swimming pools and beaches which are surprisingly uncommon around the lake. There is also a golf course with paradisial views so go the whole hog and do 18 holes!
Cadenabbia is known for its exquisite villas and its rich history. Let yourself be fascinated by the heritage of this little town set between mountain and shore as the ambience of a bygone age soaks through the atmosphere.
Situated on the slopes of Mount Crocione and with the Dolomite Mountains as a backdrop, there is something irresistibly dramatic about Cadenabbia. Yet the village offers a gentle pace of life which pays homage to the eras reflected in much of its architecture, around the 17th-19th centuries. Just some of the historic sites include Villa Margherita, Villa Collina which accommodated Chancellor Konrad Adenauer for over 20 years, Villa Giuseppina, Villa Norella and of the Edenic gardens of Villa Carlotta.
Cadenabbia adjoins the Griante area which housed greats such as Giuseppe Verdi who composed the wonderful aria of La Traviata, as well as world-class composer Stendhal. Even Queen Victoria, Nicholas II of Russia and Prince Umberto di Savoia, before he went on to become the last king of Italy, chose to spend considerable amounts of their time around Lake Como.
Do take time to enjoy some of the walks around Griante; you will be able to admire the San Martino church which dates back to the 16th century, as well as of course breath-taking lake views. During your time in Cadenabbia, you could also visit the ancient inn which was used, in centuries gone by, to host boatmen transporting goods from Lecco and Como. There are some beautiful hotels in the area which have been inspired by the inn, such as the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia and Hotel Riveria; pop in for a spontaneous cocktail and enjoy a place evocative of old story and myth.
Tremezzo is another well-known spot in Lake Como and is characteristic of many of the lake’s most appealing assets. The waterside views from restaurants and hotels are second to none and elegance exudes from every corner.
Tremezzo sits on the western side of the lake and offers panoramic views of the Cape of Bellagio. You can still find traces of ancient Roman ruins in Tremezzo and its prolific history includes a traumatic war between Como and Milan. For a while, the town remained utterly destroyed until it eventually recovered and became part of the Visconti territory. During the World Wars, some of the grandest hotels were even used as military hospitals. You can still see traces of military life around Tremezzo, with tunnels and trenches still visible around the lake. Finally, Tremezzo is close to where the infamous capture and execution of Mussolini took place.
Tremezzo is now home to the fabulous Villa Carlotta and its botanical gardens; a truly spectacular location. After taking a tour around the fairytale villa, venture to the village Rogaro nearby to Tremezzo which boasts a baroque style Oratory of the B.V. of Einsiedeln as well as the ruins of a medieval tower. Meanwhile the small villages of Volesio and Balagno are home to pretty gardens, colonial houses and cobbled streets. The villas which juxtaposition the more modest and traditional homes are historically a status symbol, reveal the owner’s wealth and nobility. The baroque Oratory of Saint Peter and Paul is regally and splendid thanks to its columns and balustrades carved in black marble. Tremezzo and its vicinities give an authentic reflection of Lake Como’s grace and elegance, so do visit if you possibly can.
A cluster of small communes makes up Mezzegra, meshing together to make a lively town bursting with shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as a children’s park. Visitors can therefore enjoy a fusion of city buzz and a more individual village vibe. ‘Mezzegra’ derives from a Latin phrase meaning ‘in the middle of the fields’ and the grapevines and mulberry trees which embellish the rural areas also produce a delicious red wine ‘Mugnano’ which is sold en masse in local bars. The smaller areas consist of Bonzanigo, Azzano, Giulino, Mugnano, Pola and Portezza. Mezzegra is also blessed to be situated near the centre of the lake, making for strikingly beautiful views.
Mezzegra is also the place where Benito Mussolini and his lover Claretta Petacci were killed in 1945, having been captured on the previous day after trying to make their escape to Switzerland. Another historic draw of Mezzegra is the church of Sant’ Abbondio which still boasts the original baroque facade and classically sculpted marble altars.
Lenno is a waterside town with unparalleled views across the Gulf of Venus, on the west side of Lake Como. Lenno is also home to some go-to spots such as the chic beachside restaurant and bar Lido di Lenno and the regally pretty promenade which leads to Villa Balbianello. The villa was originally constructed by Cardinal Angelo Durini on the site of a small Franciscan monastery. After passing through the hands of several prestigious owners, the villa was finally owned by the Arctic explorer Guido Monzino, who was the first man to climb Everest. The villa now belongs to the Italian Trust and it is now possible to tour this exquisite building which has been the set of several James Bond films. Neither shaken or stirred, the villa sits resplendently still on its regal seat in Lenno.
For swimmers, the lido can be found at the southern end of the bay along with a restaurant and beach, whilst further down there is also a free pebble beach to frolic on. Lido di Lenno is a fabulous contemporary beach bar complete with cocktails, chic decor and a beach dancefloor disco at the weekends which goes on well into the small hours (with candlelit gazebos to boot!). When you’re not dancing the night away at Lido di Lenno, take a stroll to see the Church of San Andrea, the Monastery of San Bernadett or the Santa Stefano church with its incredible frescoes and trapezoidal crypt.
Walkers will be delighted with the hike from Lenno up to Monte di Tremezzo which involves superb views and a section which traverses through a tunnel in the cliff itself, leading you to the summit. The descent is far easier and follows an old military road down the slopes of Argegno before reaching a cable car directly to the lakeside for a drink!
Ossuccio is situated in a valley named ‘Zoca de l’Oli’ and is known for its enviable Italian climate. Situated on the west side of Lake Como, let your romantic imagination run wild in Ossuccio and picture olive groves, sweeping hillsides, a glittering lake and oldy-worldy monuments from a bygone age. The area is known for its old churches and for its UNESCO heritage Sacred Mount which many people make a pilgrimage to. Ossuccio’s skyline is distinct for its two bell towers; the Moorish tower of Santa Maria Maddalena Ospedaletto church and the sail-shaped tower of the San Giacomo church. The lakeside in Ossuccio is a blissful spot to snack, sunbathe and even to take a dip. You could watch hundreds of picturesque films of Italy and still not be disappointed with Ossuccio’s outlooks. It’s not just a pretty face however, there’s also a children’s park to keep the little ones entertained!
Argegno – Also see Argegno & Popular Towns
Despite its small size, Argegno boasts a large waterfront and marina whilst Shignana, a close neighbour of the town, is nestled dramatically in the arresting cliffside. As a pair, these towns offer both old and new and are consequently evolving into go-to destinations. Argegno itself sits in the mouth of the Intelvi Valley, between Como and Menaggio.
Argegno is made even more picturesque by the River Telo running through it, as well as attractive sights such as the 18th century Santa Anna Church which is home to some original frescoes and ornate furniture. For a quick adrenaline kick, a cable car from Argegno will take you up to Pigra which has incredible views of the lake. If you’re feeling particularly energetic then take the walking tour of Val d’Intelvi for glorious panoramas.
The evening atmosphere is a charming affair in Argegno, thanks to the live music played on the piazza and eclectic selection of bars and restaurants. Sit back and soak up the luxury.
Laglio is one of Lake Como’s oldest settlements. Sitting directly on the water’s edge, this town is perhaps best admired from the water. Just like the villa of it famous resident, George Clooney.
Laglio is situated on the western branch of the lake and the wooded area behind the town adjoins with the slopes of Monte Colmegnone. Interesting spots to visit in the town include a pyramid-shaped 18th-century monument which was a tribute to a German doctor as well as a large bear cave, where bear bones were once actually found, named Buco dell’Orso. There is also the Church of S. Giorgio which dates back to the 16th century and contains stuccowork by Stefano Salterio of Como, as well as 17th-century paintings and sculptures. A rustic tradition exists in abundance in Laglio, as much in the form of sweeping slopes of vineyards and olive groves as in traditional churches and architecture.
Bathe in the public lido at Moltrasio, meander around the small harbour, while away the hours in the cafes, bars and restaurants, have a dip in Lake Vista. What’s not to love?
Moltrasio is known for its tranquillity and can be recognised instantly for its period villas which line the lakefront. One particular spectacle is Villa Passalacqua, which was built on the ruins of an old monastery, Monastero Degli Umuliati, in the 1700s. The villa was designed by a Swiss architect who favoured a neoclassical mood and the frescoes themselves were designed and created by Andrea Appiani, Napoleon’s chief artist. To gain an idea of the villa’s grandeur, the double-tiered music room holds the grand piano which once sat in the Leipzig concert hall, perhaps a reason why Vicenzo Bellini saw fit to compose his most famous operas here, Sonnambula and La Stanlera. Villa Passalacqua even houses an underground tunnel which leads to a private beachfront; possibly why Winston Churchill liked it so much!
Luckily for us, Moltrasio also has a public ‘lido’, a swimming pool and beach area, just in front of the Grand Hotel Imperiale. The town itself oozes a warm Mediterranean vibe with a traditional piazza and live music playing throughout the evenings. The old-quarters house an even more ancient and traditional piazza, home to quainter Italian cafes with terracotta roofs. The Tosnacco area of Moltrasio is known for its authentic Italian fare at the ‘trattoria.’
Cernobbio is home to one of the finest buildings in Lake Como as its backdrop, Villa d’Este, which has been voted the world’s best hotel by Forbes magazine before now and hosts the spectacular annual vintage car show, the Concorso d’Eleganza. The villa also boasts dream-like dining terraces, a floating swimming pool and regal architecture. As well as this superior grandeur, Cernobbio still has enough playful spirit to rock out a children’s pirate ship on its shores. The town is situated alongside the slopes of Mount Bisbono and boasts a classically attractive old quarter and exotic lakefront…take us there now! Cernobbio is also within a reasonable distance of the sublime Villa Erba.
Cernobbio’s other treasures include the quirky Harry’s Bar nestled in the backstreets for a lively evening out, a wonderful lakefront piazza, and the impressive region of the hills behind where the Gatto Nero restaurant can be found; one of the finest and most sought-after in Lake Como. You can feel like royalty in Cernobbio, after all it is often described as the Beverley Hills of Lake Como! However, a lack of pretension surrounds the area, mostly thanks to its dominant Italian character.
The lake’s namesake doesn’t disappoint. Designer shopping, chic cafes and truly admirable architecture reassure you that you are at the heart of glamorous Italy. Give yourself at least a day here and witness the beating heart of the lake at work. Exploring is easy; stay on foot and take to the town’s streets with an inquisitive mind; you’ll stumble upon a classic Italian scene or an avant-garde cafe in no time. The centre of Como town fans out from the stunning Duomo. Do pay a visit to the beautiful cathedral; you may just be left breathless. The portal window has statues either side; one of the famous Pliny the Elder who was a famous author, naturalist and philosopher and the other is his nephew Pliny the Younger, a lawyer, author and philosopher. Cernobbio is also home to the marvellous Villa Olma and is famous for its stunning silks, which you can learn more about at the Museum of Silk.
Como is situated in the south on the western branch of the lake and is, surprisingly, traditionally an industrial town. Just 50km north of Milan and sewn to Switzerland, Como is a hub of Italian living. So much so in fact, that the town has a vibrant history; the centre of Como was moved from the hills to its current location on the orders of Julius Caesar and the town was later destroyed by Milan, again by Austrians and then ruled by Napoleon for 19 years. Como has been through the mill and yet has recovered to become the capital of the beautiful lake that it is today.
Blevio sits on the Bellagio side of Lake Como. The gorgeous waterside town is made up of seven small villages and offers a fantastic selection of shops, eateries and bars. Pay a visit, if only for the glorious views of Villa d’Este.
Bellagio Also see Bellagio & Popular Towns
Bellagio takes centre stage on the lake thanks to its abundance of romance and history; it is situated at the tip of the Punto Spartivento or ‘the point which divides the wind’. This beautiful phraseology certainly sets the tone for an enchanting area which is warm with vibrant cafe culture and Italian frisson, but also has a backdrop of snow-capped mountains on the still Swiss border.
Bellagio doesn’t shy away from luxury, even the backstreets are jewelled with chic cafes. Imagine cobbled alleys, porticos and rustic buildings hosting designer eateries bursting with creative cuisine. It was initially the aristocrats, such as Count Francesco Melzi and the Austrian Emperor, who initially flocked to Bellagio and the town’s atmosphere has evolved to reflect such finery.
Despite having a history of aristocrats, royalty, scientists, artists and intellectuals visiting its shores, there is also a charming modesty about Bellagio. Pastel walls and red roofs make up much of Bellagio’s panorama and the aura of Italian tradition continues with the beautiful bell tower of the Basilica San Giacomo, one of the surviving fortifications from Bellagio’s castle days. Two key villas to visit are Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni.
The town is probably most easily accessed by boat, also giving you an excuse to take to the magical lake itself! Despite Bellagio’s plethora of attractions, it tends not to get too crowded and remains a tranquil corner of Italy for its visitors.
Lecco & Malgrate
Lecco and Malgrate are set on the eastern branch of the lake, in a fjord-like setting. Lecco is reasonably commercial but it is also one of the least touristy areas of Lake Como for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle. Mountain access is also easy from the area, so is ideal for serious walkers.
Lecco is dramatically set between the cliffs of Monte Coltignone and Resegone and is best reached by bridge, rendering it ruggedly enigmatic. The shopping in Lenno is also particularly good but for a more literary experience take a look at the statue of Lecco’s famous writer Alessandro Manzoni and his childhood home which is now a museum in his honour.
Colico sits at the foot of Monte Legnone at the northern tip of Lake Como, making it a focal Alpine pass to Switzerland and Austria. Despite the area’s plethora of beautiful views, Colico is one of the few places where you can enjoy 360 degree panoramas of brilliant vistas, azure lakes and alpine backdrops.
There are also several military fortifications remaining including two forts at walking distance from the centre and you can see the remains of Spanish domination in the form of the fort which is located on the hill of Monteggiolo. Colico is a brilliant family destination thanks to its diverse choice of watersports and outdoor activities, just a few of which include swimming, cycling, tennis and boating. The pretty port is home to a pedestrianised piazza and promenade, full of welcoming restaurants and shops. The ‘crotti’ are particularly exciting, as small restaurants carved rustically into the mountain caves. Calico nightlife is also vibrant enough to please a younger crowd and in the summer season open-air theatres put on nightly cabaret and music shows.
Piona Bay is also well worth a visit with its three lovely beaches. The artificial river bed makes for an ideal nesting space for various bird species, rendering the Piano di Spagna area a magnet for naturalists. If you fancy a big day out, catch the direct rail link to Milan. How often can you say ‘I popped to Milan today’?
Dervio is graced by the mild winds of ‘La Breva’ making it yet another popular windsurfing and sailing spot. If you just want to veg out, then no problem, the sandy beaches beckon you.
Bellano is a delicious spot to moor your boat and perch on the lakeside with coffee and pastries. Alternatively, venture down the winding lanes and catch glimpses of the wonderful old houses. Authentic Italian cuisine exists in abundance here and the town couldn’t be more of a rustic Italian setting.
Bellano is located on the eastern side of the lake and is home to waterfront memorials in honour of Tommaso Grossi, the 19th-century writer, and Sigismondo Boldoni, the 17th-century scientist. Bellano attracts many visitors wishing to see the Gorge of the Pioverna Stream; snow which has swelled the stream in spring has gradually cut a gorge through the rocks, which you can explore using a variety of ladders and passages. Bellano is also home to the most famous yacht club on the lake for those wanting to live the life of Riley!
Varenna, along with Menaggio and Bellagio, makes up the central Lake Como triangle. A day’s entertainment could be had simply watching the boats come in and out of the busy ferry port, but the town is also a haven of lakeside restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
Varenna is actually a medieval village, infused with ambience thanks to its steep hillside location and higgledy-piggledy lanes. However, on a more royal note, you will also be able to find the ruins of Castello Vezio here, a castle which was home to the 7th century Lombard Queen Theodolinda. Villa Cipressi is a beautifully concealed among Varenna’s non-commercial perimeters and Villa Monastero is now a cultural and scientific centre. Take a stroll around the villa gardens and you will quickly find yourself in awe of superb landscaping, vibrant colours and immeasurable elegance. For something a little different, there is also an old black marble quarry, heightening Varenna’s mystique further yet.
San Siro is found on the western shore of Lake Como and on the southern slopes of Mount Bregnano. A 14th century castle, built on the slopes of a promontory, towers above the town’s skylines on the hills. You will also be able to catch a glimpse of ancient convents, fortresses and forest which are glorious for walks. Despite being a small village there are also a couple of lovely restaurants to enjoy.
Isola Comacina is the only island in Lake Como and will whirl you back to ancient Italian times. From Roman ruins to late medieval fortifications and early Christian churches there is plenty to attract an avid historian. For a romantic outing, take a boat across to the island in the evening and dine in the middle of the lake at the lovely restaurant.
Vercana is a gorgeous little mountain village sitting on the western end of Lake Como. Vercana is made up of several hamlets sprinkled along the River Livo on the slopes of Pizzo Sasso Canale. Originally an old fishing village, Vercana is still a mecca for deliciously fresh seafood thanks to the nearby harbour of Domaso. Thanks to its rural location Vercana is also a fantastic spot for rural wanders and mountain biking with exceptional panoramas, Alpine lake views and Pian di Spagna.
Sorico is another area in Como made up of small villages and hamlets, situated on the lake’s north-western shores. Along with Gravedona and Dongo, Sorico makes up the ‘Three Parish.’ Sorico is close to the Pian di Spagna oasis, made up of fields, reeds and marshes abundant with birds, wildlife and exuberantly coloured flowers; walking, cycling and picnicking here are all a treat.
Sorico is also a haven for watersports; go wild and test our your waterski skills or keep it classy and charter a boat. If you’d rather stay on dry land then pay a visit to the St Giorgio Church, St Bartolomeo Church and the Pilgrims’ Hospice at Calchera which was built in the Middle Ages.
Mandello del Lario
Mandello del Lario is situated on the eastern end of Lake Como and is famously the home of Moto Guzzi, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. The village now hosts the Worldwide Guzzi Days which people travel from around the globe to attend. The museum narrates the history of Moto Guzzi through the means of motorcycle models, prototypes and engines.
Mandello del Lario sits at the foot of the magnificent Grigne Mountains and, just as its scenery is stunning, its history is turbulent. Mandello del Lario was a fortress of Como in the Middle Ages and suffered an attack from the Milan Army in 1160. However, the village gradually recovered and became a hub of spinning mills and local trade.
Local attractions include the San Giorgio Church, a pretty and modest church built by a Templar monk in the 11th century on his way back from the Holy Land. Alternatively, catch a glimpse of the incredible pipe organ in the church of Saint Laurence.
Anyone will be able to manage to ‘Belveder on the Lake’ walk which starts in Somana and finishes in Olico, whilst keen hikers can try the medieval route to Valsassina which will lead you to views of the Val Meria, the Grignes Mountains and Rosalba Lodge. Beware though, this is a 5-hour hike! Once you’ve made the ‘short stroll’, how about 18 holes at Lecco golf course?! Like most Como villages, Mandello del Lario has good ferry connections to other parts of the lake so do be tempted to take a micro-Mediterranean cruise!
Griante sits on the western edge of Lake Como and is cherished for its striking views across the lake. The countryside villas surrounding the area are captivating in their authenticity and the small church perched on the hillside is as pretty as one plucked from a painted postcard.
Nesso is another Como village made up of several hamlets including Castello, Vico and Cerano. Located between Como and Bellagio, Nesso sits on an enviable corner of Como with its striking slopes and gentler lakeside walkways.
It is possible to gain a feel of Nesso’s past thanks to the castle ruins; this fort was destroyed in the medieval village by Francesco Sforza. Nesso’s gorge must also not go unseen, as the streams of the Tuf and Nosè tinkle through the village, gush down the Pian del Tivano and then meet to form a plunging waterfall in the gorge. Stand on the old Roman ‘Civera’ bridge to witness this vision. If you don’t fancy the 300 steps it takes to get from the bridge, hire your own boat and feel the intensity from the water itself.
Hikers might enjoy walks to Monte Palanzone and Monte San Primo from Pian di Nesso, whilst historians may favour the medieval church of San Pietro and San Paolo, as well as the Romanesque church of Santa Maria in Vico.
Tomo is a bewitching lakeside village traditionally known for its textile and tapestry trade. Nowadays, the village is admired for its history and mourned for the loss of the textile trade after the Spanish invaded in the 1500s. Ruins of the medieval fortifications are touching to witness for this reason. Another exceptional site is the Massi Avelli; a mass of differently shaped boulders which signify graved tombs. After you’ve admired such traditional sites you can even dine authentically in a cave carved ‘crotto’ nearby. Climbers will be well rewarded for the ascent of Monte Piatto, where they will find the ‘Pietra Pendula; a famous hanging stone balanced on a rock.
Lezzeno has roots in ancient Ligurian and Celtic origins and is the last village you encounter before reaching Bellagio. Lezzeno is also deliciously rustic thanks to its pebbly beaches with unadulterated views across the lake onto Villa Balbianello and Isola Comacina.
Do try and make time for a visit to the Carpe Grotto in Lezzeno, which is also known as the Blue Grotto; the sun twinkles off the water and splashes colour onto the eroded walls of the Sassi Groagalli. The grotto is definitely a site to see by boat. Other top tips include the 16th-century churches SS. Quirico and Giulitta and the Madonna del Ceppo oratory which dates back to the 15th century in the hamlet of Pescau.