LAKE COMO, Italy – If you’ve had the patience to try and travel to Europe this summer, chances are you’ve made it to Italy.
After all, according to a report by Confcommercio, an Italian organization that represents tourism businesses, the main driver of the country’s tourism recovery this summer came from the 2.2 million Americans visiting between July and September, an increase of 20% compared to the same period in 2019.
And if you’ve traveled to Italy this summer, chances are you’ve visited the Amalfi Coast, which many travel advisers said was the No. 1 destination for bookings in the country this year.
For my Italian adventure, I’ve chosen another dreamy and highly sought-after destination, one that even the best Instagram accounts can’t do justice in a single post.
I’m talking about Lake Como. And before you asked, it was nothing like I had imagined. It was better.
Photo credit: TW photo by Nicole Edenedo
The country has consistently been among the top destinations for European summer bookings, and travel demand has soared to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic.
Despite its reputation as a legendary land of luxury, frequented by the Clooneys and “Succession” billionaires, Italy’s Lake District has many facets, and Lake Como might not be the place you’re looking for. think. Are there any $40 million villas here? Yes. Did I see a Ferrari? Obviously. But there are also lakeside apartments for rent, $8 pizzas with $5 beers, and truly down-to-earth people who have called Lake Como their entire lives.
“I get people who think Lake Como is a big resort, but it’s not because there are also locals who live here who have always lived on Lake Como,” said Pietro Radoicovich, one of my new favorite tour guides, who was born and raised in Lecco, a town in the Lake Como region.
He and I had an insightful chat during a two-hour boat ride on the lake, which was provided by the Lake Como for You travel agency, also based in Lecco, and booked at the last minute for me. by the Italian specialist Perillo Tours.
It wasn’t hard to see how right Radoicovich was and how well my own observations matched his assessment.
Hotel Metropole Suisse Como at Lake Como, Italy. Photo credit: Nicole Edenedo
There was something beyond the extravagant villas on even more extravagant plots of land with immaculately maintained gardens and the multitude of expensive cars and throngs of well-dressed tourists that buzzed the streets. I noticed it every time I left the Hotel Métropole Suisse during my four-night stay: Lake Como is rich in natural beauty, and its magnificence lies in its landscape.
No diamond sold in Piazza del Duomo could ever shine brighter than the shimmering hills of Lake Como at night, any Instagram filter would be far surpassed by the natural glow of the golden hour that hits the Viale Geno promenade at sunset sunshine and there is no greater wealth than eating al fresco in a covered restaurant for just 20 euros in the late afternoon and realizing you have time to linger and enjoy it.
Getting to Lake Como
There are a number of ways to see Lake Como and plenty of tour options to match almost anyone’s style.
For those looking for a romantic entry into the heart of Lake Como, I suggest booking a train journey with Railbookers and choosing from several routes offered by the train holiday package. There are day trains on the high-speed rail lines that will get you to Como fastest, such as on the scenic Bernina Express or the Italian flagship Trenitalia. Or you can take your time getting to Lake Como and arrive in style on the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient Express, with overnight options and chances to make stops in other cities.
Inside the 1st class railcar of the SNCF Grand Est TER Alsace line which criss-crosses France and Switzerland. Photo credit: Nicole Edenedo
River cruise options before or after the cruise to Lake Como also exist.
AmaWaterways has been offering a three-night land extension on Lake Como to its seven-night Rhine Castles and Swiss Alps itinerary since 2020. The package includes guided walks and boat trips to Bellagio and filming locations where movies like “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Casino Royale” have been fixed.
And Perillo Tours offers Lake Como two of its most popular tours in Italy. The 12-Day Wonders of Northern Italy and the 14-Day Classic of Northern Italy offer day trips to Lake Como and spend time visiting the other famous lakes in the Lombardy region, such as Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano in Switzerland.