Tag Archives: Italy

Lake Como’s Centro Lago

Lake Como's Centro Lago

In this third and final part of a trilogy of posts on Lake Como, we visit Villa Carlotta, Bellagio and Varenna. I’m just going to write a few words about each location, with a picture gallery including captions after each one.



On the western shore of the Ramo di Como where it reaches the Centro Lago (Central Lake) lies Tremezzo, a village boasting many fine villas, but none more so than Villa Carlotta.

Built at the end of the 17th century for marquis Giorgio Clerici II, a member of a powerful Milanese family, it was bought in 1801 by Gian Battista Sommariva, a well-known Italian politician and major art collector. The villa became a major stopping place on the Grand Tour, and fortunately for the modern-day traveller many of the classical sculptures that he acquired are still here: Not so fortunate though is the fact that I can’t show you any of them because photography is not permitted inside the villa.

All is not lost though because not only does the villa have a splendid interior, it also has some magnificent gardens with views to match. The villa was named after Carlotta Nassau who was given it as a wedding present for her marriage to Giorgio II, a keen botanist who turned the grounds into a garden lover’s paradise.

The timing of our visit to Villa Carlotta was less than perfect for visiting the gardens as most of the summer colour had gone over, but even so, if visiting the villa was good enough for those doing the Grand Tour, it was most definitely good enough for me.

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Sailing around the Ramo di Como

Sailing around the Ramo di Como

This post is a follow-up to my previous one on the city of Como, and follows the same format, consisting of a brief explanation followed by a picture gallery.

Before anyone thinks that I’ve got a yacht of my own moored up at a luxurious lakeside villa somewhere, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you: I might gain a few extra followers if I lied, but the truth is I would need pockets as deep as the lake itself to be able to afford to live like that – and I haven’t. If you’ve also got the same type of pockets as me, you might be pleased to learn that the public motorships that ply the lake are a great way of taking everything in without it costing a fortune.

Lake Como is actually shaped like an inverted ‘Y’ and composed of three branches – Colico, Lecco and Como – which meet in the Centro Lago at the picturesque town of Bellagio. The River Adda feeds the lake and enters it near Colico in the north, and finally flows out of it at Lecco in the south-east, but it’s not the only source of water as there are around 36 other tributaries.

This 600 ft deep lake was originally a glacier and is surrounded by a magnificent landscape, which includes the Grigne mountain range whose highest peak is the Legnone at 2609 metres (8559 ft). With all this fabulous scenery around it’s not surprising that many famous people have owned villas here – and who can blame them?

The Ramo di Como is the Como branch of Lake Como, and hopefully the picture gallery will give you an idea of what you can expect to see from one of the boats operated by Navigazione Laghi. They criss-cross the lake, and so they can be used as a hop on-hop off service, but we stayed on board until we reached the Centro Lago (Central Lake).

To try and make sense of it all, I’ve put together a selection of pictures in the gallery which follows the western shore going north from Como to the Centro Lago, and the eastern shore going south for the return journey.

You would need a lot more time than we had available to cover the whole lake and its villages and towns, but in the next and final part of this trilogy of picture galleries I’ll be describing some of the places we saw around the Centro Lago, so I hope this post will whet your appetite enough to come back one more time.

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A Picture Gallery of Como

A Picture Gallery of Como

Just to prove that I’m not bitter about Italy beating England in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday, I thought it was about time I posted something about one of my favourite European countries.

Back in 2012 we spent a few days in Como, a city of around 84,000 people located 25 miles or so north of Milan. It lies at the southern tip of Lake Como’s south-western arm, and until the Chinese came back on the scene, the city and its surroundings had a thriving silk industry, but I wasn’t here to buy silk, I was here because we were using it as a base to explore the wonderful Lake Como.

The hills that rise above the western side of the lake are on the border with Switzerland, and were inhabited by the Celts long before the Romans arrived: In 59BC Julius Caesar drained the swampy ground on the shores of the lake and created the town of Novum Comum. The grid pattern that he used still forms the basic layout of the Old Town of Como today.

As interesting as the history of Como is, in this post I’ve decided to just create a gallery of images that I took while we were here, and the walled Old Town is where the gallery begins.

The Cathedral, which began construction in 1396, is probably the town’s most visited site, and a good place to start. The grid pattern made it easy to find our way around, and I particularly liked the area around the Romanesque church of San Fedele.

The lake of course will always drag you away from the Old Town at some point, and although the Passeggiata Amici di Como was having a makeover when we were here it didn’t stop us wandering around to the fountain at Villa Geno. The other side of the lake was my favourite though, where the Volta Gardens not only has some great views, but includes features such as the Volta Temple, a museum dedicated to the famous physicist and inventor, Alessandro Volta.

From the gardens you can also look across the lake and see the funicular that climbs steeply uphill to Brunate. At the top is a panoramic view of Como and its surroundings, but the view is spoiled somewhat by an isolated conifer tree. Normally, I don’t like to see trees cut down, but I would happily make an exception for this one, which is right next to the panorama viewing platform.

Anyway, I’ll shut up now and let the pictures do the talking. I hope you enjoy looking at them, as much as I enjoyed taking them.

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