When you think of Lake Como you probably picture huge Italian villas, picturesque mountains and George Clooney. All of this is so very true, but there is much more to the area than it’s notorious glitz and glamour. After spending 4 days on the lake, I can confidently say it is everything that it has been hyped up to be.
We rented a car in Milan, drove one hour into Lake Como, and as we crossed a large bridge there was finally this moment of clearing within the tall trees. Lake Como peaked through and introduced itself in a big way! All of a sudden, you could see the depths of it’s valleys, it’s highest peaks, the blue-green waters, and the ancient villas built into the sides of the mountains. At that moment, we realized that Lake Como was already more than we could have ever imagined.
Devote Some Time To Argegno
Argegno is one of Lake Como’s smaller villages, and that is why it has so much character. Don’t count it out because of it’s size. Everything about this town feels like home.
It has its old world charm; We watched an elderly Italian man walk into the coffee shop we were eating breakfast at, order his espresso, take the shot and leave his coin on the bar with a quick “Grazie!” Obviously, this wasn’t his first time. Above the restaurants and shops, higher up along the mountains, is the residential area of Argegno. Full of narrow cobblestoned alleys, it’s an area only accessible by foot. It was modest, yet so intriguing. We visited this city twice, because once was just not enough.
It does also have a little bit of new world charm; we visited the restaurant and pool spot Lido di Argegno. Situated directly on the water, it offers breathtaking views while you’re lounging around an infinity pool.
Day Trip Into Switzerland
When choosing a city to stay in while at Lake Como, I recommend staying on the west shore of the lake. To be more specific, I’d recommend Brieno, Argegno or Tremmezzo. Staying on the west side has so many advantages, such as taking the breezy 45 minute drive through the mountains and cruising into Switzerland. The drive is absolutely gorgeous, with plenty of sights along the way. Do not pass up this opportunity to see Switzerland.
When arriving into Lugano, you’ll notice the city vibe. Tons of pedestrians, kids getting out of school, modern buildings. Me, husband, and the baby walked around and decided to do as all of the locals in the area were doing– grab something to eat and take it to the park. I recommend the food stand Kebab Ararat, near the Viale Castagnola park. While eating and observing, we notice their carefree lifestyle.. they’re not head down on cell phones like you would find in any city in America. The teenagers and young adults are sitting in circles playing cards, others hanging out chatting, others eating their lunch and just soaking in the view. Now don’t get me wrong, these are very well off people, and this is no “hipster” park.. They all have the latest and greatest phones and what-nots, but they’re not obsessing over it. They’re simply living life.
Along with the culture, this place is lovely. Half of the lake is in Switzerland and the other half is in Italy. As you cross the border into Switzerland, the architecture suddenly shifts to a more modern feel. Gone are the Italian painted villas and tiled roofs. Enter in the more modern Swiss architecture with more variety in its design.
Enjoy the mountains and serenity of Lake Lugano as well as the city of Lugano, Switzerland.
Venture Across To Bellagio
If you stay on the west shore, you have close access to the drive-on ferry in Cadenabbia that will drop you off right in the heart of Bellagio. You do not have to take the road all the way around the lake, unless you have time and want to. It’s about 1.5-2 hour commute from Brienno, while the ferry ride is about 10 minutes. We drove the way there so we could sightsee, then took the ferry back.
Upon arriving, you’ll probably notice the amount of tourists, but this is no tourist trap. They are there for the organic beauty of Bellagio. The old cobblestone streets are filled with flowers, shops, quaint restaurants, vividly green parks and people speaking different languages. The parks are filled with people lounging on their blankets, enjoying some mid-day relaxation. The occasional celebrity may pass you as you’re walking, one you may recognize or an Italian one you don’t. This is the essence of Bellagio.
For lunch we ate at Torre Del Borgo, which I highly recommend, right in the city center. We did some shopping, walked through the gardens, and did pass an Italian celebrity that a lot of people seemed to recognize but we didn’t. She had quite the beautiful dress on, we’re pretty sure she wanted to be noticed. As previously mentioned, on the way back we took the ferry across the lake, enjoying the sweeping panoramic view of Bellagio.
Don’t skip out on Bellagio because it may seem touristy — it is not overrated, and it’s a charming town that deserves its recognition.
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