If living 6 months in Italy is a dream to you then read this honest and practical advice.
Written by Guest Blogger: Kristy of Prosecco and Palmtrees
I instantly fell in love with Lake Como when I first visited a decade ago. I recommend it as a must see stop on any tour of northern Italy (well, any trip to Italy for that matter). When you wake up on the lake that first morning, grab an espresso and just sit and watch as the mist hovering in the valley begin to part as the sun rises higher in the sky, revealing bougainvillea draped trellises and the occasional palm tree, delightfully out of place at the base of the Alps. Sigh.
Are you planning on traveling there and enjoying la dolce vita too? Below I shared my top five tips for planning a perfect trip to Lago di Como.
1. Travel by Boat
Spending at least one day aboard a boat is a must-do here, and it’s the best way to see the sites on the lake in a short period of time. While you can navigate pretty easily by ferry, I recommend hiring a boat with a driver. It's a fantastic way to get your own private tour of the lake while you sit back and relax.
I love the fact that the driver can just pick you up from the dock of your lakefront hotel or villa maximum convenience. The driver will give you the scoop about what royalty owns which villa, where Bruce Springsteen stays, and yes, even point out George Clooney’s house.
2. Dinner with a View
Have as many meals outside as you can overlooking Lario (the locals’ name for the lake). My favorite dinner vista is from the terrace at Il Gatto Nero perched on the mountainside high above the town of Cernobbio along the most southwestern part of the lake.
Make reservations just before sunset so you can watch the towns below begin to slowly sparkle with lights as the skies transition to from daylight to twilight. If not within walking distance of where you are staying, I highly recommend getting a driver so you don’t have to worry about navigating switchback roads after a few glasses of wine.
3. Go Green
While there are some formal gardens you can visit, I prefer to just take in the cascading wisteria and sweet smelling jasmine as they seem to naturally occur along stretching promenades and around the grand villas situated on Lake Como. Each visit I have dinner or drinks at Villa d’ Este so I have an excuse to visit the hotel, where you can walk through the grand stone mosaic walls framing the garden path along the hillside. My other favorites include the acres of gardens at Villa Carlotta the whimsical Villa Balbianello, and the charming promenade in Teresio Olivelli Park in the town of Tremezzo.
4. Get Lost
Step off the ferry, drop a pin on your phone, and just get lost in a maze of streets and cafes.
Exploring the winding paths by foot, you will discover delightful nooks and crannies of the lake. These off the beaten path spots can be great photo opportunities too.
The towns of Moltrosio and Argegno have some great switchback paths and pretty alleyways.
Take time to do nothing at all. Grab a bottle of pino nero, your favorite sunglasses and a comfy chaise lounge to bask for an afternoon in the Italian sunshine as the classic wooden boats parade by. Lake Como is a wonderful place to recharge and reawaken your senses. For ultimate experience, stay at one of the handful of hotels with swimming pools that actually float right on the water.
Follow along with more of Kristy's adventures on her blog Prosecco and Palm Trees or on Instagram.
Traveling to Lake Como this summer? Why not hire us to assist? Travel Italian Style offers custom travel planning for this beautiful region as well as throughout all of Italy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Meet the Author
Kristy is lives in sunny Florida with her husband, 3 dogs and long awaited son Maxwell. When she's not busy chasing Max around the house, you'll find her happily snapping photos, running marathons or planning her next trip to Italy. Kristy loves sharing style and travel tips, as well as her insights on mom life after infertility on her blog Prosecco & Palmtrees.
Too often we put pressure on ourselves to have an experience like no other. You are convinced that fulfilling travel is being unique, different and the first to see it all!
How do you do this?
You don't--You do this instead:
"The point is not to do something nobody has ever done before, but to do something YOU have never done before." -#elizabethgilbert
1. Focus on One Region in Italy
Instead of trying to conquer every major town in the whole country, how about focusing on one region.
Ex: The Amalfi Coast is not just the beaches. Remember you can find history in Pompeii & Herculaneum, Pizza and the famous Presepe during Christmas in Naples, wine tasting all throughout the region along with famous year-round festivals and shows.
This is equivalent to visiting Tuscany, Rome and Cinque Terre all in one and without the hours of travel to get from place to place!
2. Hire a Travel Consultant
Yes, I am a travel planner and tour operator but I believe in what I do! I spent 10+ years of my life researching, traveling and meeting locals so I can create a mini-version of my experiences for you. Experts like me can also show you how to live the local way of life even in the biggest tourist towns of Italy.
Getting lost and wandering is fun but this is a great way to maximize your time and see it all while still having to RELAX on your vacation.
Some locals we are proud to introduce to our clients (yes the goat is a local too):
3. Try a Meaningful or Fulfilling Day Trip // Do Something that Scares You!
Get on vespa, learn to sail, help out in a nearby community or finally order that anchovy dish--try something that will make you feel exhilarated! Putting meaning and a goal behind your trip will bring your vacation to another level. You do not have to be an adventurist to take a small steps past your comfort zone. It can be as simple as speaking the language with a local, Try it.
For the theory behind this check out Matt Cutt's TED TALK for inspiration.
Everyone says they will do it but how many times have you actually sat down and wrote your exact feelings at the end of a day during your travels. To be able to return to that moment well after the vacation is over is another way to savor your travel memories forever. So write, photograph or keep notes of the adventures with the new app Stiya.
5. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to see it all // Be Flexible
In Italy there is a concept called 'kilometer zero' or what we call here: slow-travel. Take the time to deeply experience each and every place you go. If you can't make it to a museum because you spent an extra 2 hours at that organic farm enjoying lunch then so be it! You can always go back or switch your your day around.
Stressing out about this also puts a damper on your energy so pinpoint your three most important highlights of the trip and make sure you do that! If you can not get to the rest don't worry, if it is that important you will return again soon!