Just under an hour north of Milan, and the same distance from the border of Switzerland lies the beautiful Lago di Como or Lake Como.
On my first trip to Italy I wanted to come here because my great grandmother originated from the area.
I took a train from Vernazza on the Ligurian Coast first to Milan and then to Como, thinking that was the main hub of Lake Como and where I’d want to be. I should have done some reading first because the best places to stay as a tourist are Varenna, Mennagio and Bellagio. From Como I took a long bus ride to Varenna where I stayed the night (again, should have read on this because I see now that there is a ferry from Como to Bellagio).
I found the people in this part of Italy to be very charming and friendly. We stopped into a wine shop in Bellagio and spent some time there with the wonderful owner, he with his broken English and us with our very few Italian words. Italians love to connect and will try very hard to communicate across the language barrier.
We spent most of our day on Lake Como wandering around the shops of Bellagio. Here, and all over the towns around the lake, you will find an array of shops selling everything from shoes to beautiful handmade silk to leather goods. If you love Italian designer brands you will find all of them here. Items for the home are also available and the treasure I picked up was a cruet for the table which hold salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.
These three cities form a triangle in the belly of the lake, just above the legs that veer off to the east and to the west. Bellagio is the most well-known of the three and by far the most luxe. You will find that accommodations in the other towns are a bit less expensive in general.
There is a ferry that connects the three cities that make up the triangle and a train station in Varenna.
See the links below for more photos of Lake Como: