Three years ago, the Hobbit and I went to Lugano for a weekend away (and a scary bungee jump), and we drove around lake Como as well. Instantly, we fell in love with the area; lakes with dramatic mountains as backdrop, colorful lakeside villages; we decided then to do a holiday here at some point. Three years and a few other holidays later, we finally got around doing this. I have been to the Northern Italian Lake area quite a few times before as a teenager, albeit at another lake, so it was lovely to spent some time in the Como area.
Our first night, we spent at Villa la Gaeta, which is featured in James Bond Casino Royale. The Hobbit likes his James Bond stuff, so being able to spend a night here was pretty awesome. The villa and the premises are absolutely gorgeous, and the views over the lake are simply stunning. The area is quite secluded, so for those seeking privacy, peace and quiet, it is absolutely perfect.
Sunday, we moved to the centre of Menaggio, a small village on the lake, less busy and touristy than the village of Como itself. It has a cute square with some bars and restaurants, an ice cream shop, and there is a tiny shopping street with some art galleries, one or two clothing/shoe shops (with mini people sizes only, so a no go for tall girls) and local produce shops.
Don’t expect bustling nightlife or fancy rooftop parties, but we were after cute, quaint, quiet, and that is exactly what we found. We were not overly impressed with the choice in restaurants and the quality of the food generally; it does the trick, but it’s pretty much aimed at tourists. The one dinner we did have expectations of was vastly overpriced. The setting makes up for most of this though, as the views from the lakeside terraces are pretty much amazing.
From Menaggio, various other towns are easily reached by ferry, so we used this as our ‘base camp’ and used the efficient ferry service as our gateway to other villages. The Hobbit had to do some work throughout the week, so I used the mornings to see and do things he was not up for, like visiting the botanical gardens of Villa Carlotta. Monday and Tuesday afternoon, we visited Varenna and Bellagio together and we rented a boat on Wednesday for an afternoon to see the famous palaces, villas and estates Lake Como is renowned for, such as Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni, and Villa del Balbianello. I will write more about these gorgeous places in my next posts, but first, let me share some more pics of Menaggio: