Exploring Lake Como with Lake Effect Co.
Earlier this summer, Lake Effect Co gave us the opportunity to explore Lake Como, and we were absolutely blown away by the beauty of Lake Como! Lake Como is so serene and quiet and honestly the perfect European escape. We love exploring the cities, but we really enjoyed the peaceful and quiet feel of Lake Como. It was the perfect escape after a lot of long, busy city days.
Lake Como and all the colorful Italian homes on the lake look and feel like something straight out of a painting. As you're roaming the streets, every corner you turn almost feel like something straight out of The Secret Garden. From the classic Italian façades to the beautiful gardens all over, there's no doubt why Lake Como is considered to be a luxurious, quiet escape. Which makes sense why people like George and Amal Clooney and Madonna have houses there. Matt Damon apparently also spends a lot of time there. So basically, if it's good enough for all the A-list celebrities, it's good enough for me.
Lake Como is shaped like an upside down "Y" with the city of Como sitting at the bottom of the western branch of the Y and the popular town of Bellagio located at the point where the "y" splits. It's about an hour ferry ride from Como to Bellagio, so that's should show just a preview of how big the lake is. You could spend an entire week exploring the lake and still probably only get a taste of all it has to offer. The entire lake is over 28 miles long and on average it's about 500 feet deep, which is why the water has such a beautiful blueish-green hue. The best way to get to Lake Como is to fly into Milan and then either take a train or rent a car and drive. It's about a 45-minute drive from Milan to Como. It actually takes probably 2-3 days to drive around the entire lake, so we were only able to explore a small portion of the lake, but honestly we can only imagine how beautiful every town on the lake is.
From the enchanting villas to the mystical gardens, Lake Como feels like something out of a fairytale. There are ivy-covered walls everywhere you turn, hydrangea bushes that go over your head, breathtaking rose bushes, and bougainvillea til your heart's content.
It has such a remote feel to it, especially with water taxis and ferries being the best way to get around. There are so many houses that are tucked deep into the hills and seem almost impossible to get to. Actually, one of the craziest things we saw when we were there were helicopters being used for construction. They were carrying buckets of cement and other construction materials back and forth from the town to the house they were working on. Apparently, some of the houses are so remote and tucked back into the mountains, that it's literally easier and cheaper for helicopters to bring in the equipment than it is for trucks to drive there. So if you're looking for a remote getaway, Lake Como definitely meets the requirement.
Explore Como: Spend a day wandering the streets of Como, and don't forget to grab some gelato while walking around Piazza Cavour. The gelato in Italy is unlike anything else, so we won't judge you if you eat it for breakfast. (We definitely did, haha.) Be sure to visit the Como Cathedral, because it's absolutely stunning and is known for being the last Gothic cathedral built in Italy. For sweeping views of the lake, take the funicular up to Brunate. Como definitely feels more like a city than the other small towns around the lake, but it's still a fun spot to explore and do some shopping and eat at delicious restaurants. Como is known for being the silk capital of the world, so don't go home without buying a new silk scarf or dress.
Take the Ferry Around the Lake: The ferry system around Lake Como is very organized and pretty easy to use. It's the best way to get around and explore the different towns in our opinion. The streets are very small and windy, making driving a bit harder, and parking isn't convenient. Lake Como is very exclusive, and they make it pretty difficult for tourists to find parking on purpose to keep it that way, so taking a ferry helps you get around quickly without having to worrying about driving or parking.
There are both high-speed ferries, standard ferries, and car ferries. The high-speed ferries are more expensive, but they obviously get you around faster. There are a few different types of standard ferries and some are older with beautiful wood interiors and have dining options onboard. If you're driving or want your car on another side of the lake, you can take a car ferry. You can also walk on a car ferry if you're not bringing your car, so no need to wait until the next one comes.
Spend a day in Bellagio: The town of Bellagio is probably the most popular destination on the lake, and for good reason. It's so cute and quaint and all the alleys are so colorful and picturesque. We loved spending some time here just getting lost and popping in and out of all the cute shops. There are restaurants with plant-covered pergolas and flower pots and plants on every doorstop and balcony. Eat some pizza on the waterfront for lunch and then walk around the Villa Mezi gardens.
Two other towns we suggest visiting are Tremezzo and Varenna. In Tremezzo, be sure to visit Villa Carlotta. Villa Carlotta has a magnificent botanical garden and some of the most beautifully pieces of art inside the museum.
One of Ryan and I’s New Years resolutions for 2018 was to use less plastic and reduce our personal waste and trash in an effort to protect our planet and the beautiful bodies of water we love and enjoy visiting so much. Visiting Lake Como was such a great reminder to us that to preserve and keep places like this so beautiful, we need to take responsibility and make sure we're protecting the environment. We’re obviously not perfect, and we have a lot to learn but we're getting better at it every day, and we honestly feel like the best way to take care of our planet and protect the waters is by reducing our use of single-use plastic. Here are five ways to reduce plastic consumption and help protect our lakes:
Use a reusable water bottle. I have a Yeti tumbler and I seriously carry it around with me everywhere. It’s so convenient for traveling and now I’m never thirsty and I can always just fill it up in the hotel room before we go out for the day or in the airport before we board the airplane. I’m actually drinking out of it right now as I type this, so honestly I’m not kidding when I say I use it all. the. time. Also, if you’re like me and kind of afraid of tap water, buy a Brita water filter for your home to filter your tap water.
Don’t use straws. Straws are such a big culprit of plastic thats ends up in lakes and oceans. I love drinking through a straw, so a great alternative to plastic straws are glass, stainless steel, or bamboo straws. Bamboo straws won't last as long as glass or stainless steel, but they are still reusable and 100% compostable, so they're better for the environment. We're loving trying these bamboo straws.
Bamboo Toothbrushes. I never would’ve thought that using a toothbrush would be adding to the plastic dump problem, but after seeing images of beaches lined with toothbrushes, it really woke me up and I ordered these bamboo toothbrushes. I love this brand too, because they alway are committed to 100% plastic-free packaging.
Reusable grocery bags— this is one of the easiest replacements. Baggers at grocery stores put one thing in a bag and it drives me nuts. Plus in a lot of places, they’re starting to charge you for each bag anyway (Hi, California), so save money and the environment! It’s a win-win.
Avoid buying single-use plastic: Granola Bars, (we are so guilty of this, but not only is it cheaper if you make your own, but you also save the planet by not using as much plastic). Obviously it's really difficult to avoid all single use plastics, but the more aware of it you are, the more you'll help protect the planet. Buy in bulk. Instead of using plastic wrap or plastic bags use reuseable beeswax to wrap your food
Where to Stay:
Villa Matilda in Torno is the most amazing little spot. It's an old castle, literally from the 1500s, with different apartment styled rooms. The owner, Tony, is super helpful and decided to buy and preserve the castle while turning it into a hotel. He and his wife run the hotel and live in it with their family, so it's a very family friendly hotel. They're very welcoming and create a wonderful feeling of make sure you feel at home and a sense of community with the other travelers. Tony is from the US, but spends half of his time in Lake Como and the other half in the states, so he knows the area REALLY well, which means he can give you all the best restaurant recommendations and places to go and things to see. He's also super friendly and very helpful, which is awesome in a place like Lake Como, where it is a bit confusing on how to get around and most people only speak Italian. He also knows where Matt Damon and George Clooney hang out, so if that's not a reason to have him as a connection, I'm not sure what is, haha.
We had the most amazing stay at Villa Matilda. The place has so much history to it that you really feel like you're almost living in a different era. The apartment we stayed in had an original copy of David's Gardens and the most magnificent views of the lake. Seriously, they were breathtaking. I would actually spend time in my kitchen if the view looked like the view from the kitchen in our apartment at Villa Matilda. The hotel has a heated pool on the property and free parking, which are both very hard to come by when you're looking for affordable accommodations on Lake Como. Tony personally supplies each apartment with local breakfast items and snacks upon arrival, so you can enjoy making breakfast on your own time frame and enjoy the local flavor.
The hotel is also super family friendly and very accommodating to whatever your needs may be. If you're looking for a place to stay in Lake Como, you won't be disappointed with Villa Matilda. Reach out to Tony and let him know we sent you, so he can take extra great care of you!
Thanks so much Lake Effect Co for helping us experience the magic of Lake Como! Be sure to check out Lake Effect Co for cute, comfortable lake clothes! Also, protecting and caring for the lakes is part of their business model - 5% of your purchase benefits organizations like the Alliance of the Great Lakes or the Surfrider Foundation - Milwaukee, both which help protect the Great Lakes so we can keep these waters safe and healthy enough to continue to dip our toes in for years to come! So you get fun lake inspired clothes and protect the lakes. It's a win-win.