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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 (email@example.com).
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.
By Ishita Sood
We continue our 5 Tips for Travel series with Indian Travel Blogger Ishita Sood. After years of following her passion and traveling Italy alone, today we are honored to feature her 5 Tip on making the most out of your Italian travel solo!
"Italy is full of wonderful people who go an extra step to help you, so it is important to respect their traditions and culture too."
Traveling alone in Italy has its fun and frustrating moments, which is why it is important to know small points that can help save time and make travel enjoyable. Italy is full of wonderful people who go an extra step to help you, so it is important to respect their traditions and culture too. I have five simple tips to travel solo in Italy. So sit back and relax while you read all these points that make Italy a preferred choice of destination and also help ease you out during your Italian travels:
1. Personal Safety is First
Nothing is more important than that, whether in Italy or anywhere else. I would recommend keeping an eye on your baggage at crowded places in the bigger towns which are prone to petty theft. Keep a copy of your passport in the hotel room just in case something happens. Again, this is not to scare you off, but just to caution you. Always exude confidence when in Italy by the way you walk or talk and try not to let small frustrations get to you. I have faced that countless times in my travels and I’d love to help anyone to know about travel in Italy.
2. Choose the Right Accommodation
Italy has plenty of stay options to choose from. If you are on a budget choose a hostel or an apartment at Airbnb. You can also stay in a convent or a monastery by choosing MonasteryStays.com. Here you have comfortable beds with private bathrooms at a reasonable price and most of them are in the centre of the town. For example, since Venice is expensive to stay, pick a monastery instead of a hotel and save money to get that gondola ride. Similarly, if you are visiting the Italian countryside, choose an agriturismo, which are refurbished old country homes renovated to give you a local experience.
3. Practice Some Italian Before You Go
It is really a blessing if you know some Italian words that could go a long way in your travels. Simple words such as “dove,” which means where, “salve,” which is a formal hello, or “grazie,” which means thank you, can put a smile on a stranger’s face. Don’t go saying "ciao" to anyone and everyone you meet, because that is an Informal way of greeting, such as for a friend. Basic food vocabulary or a small dictionary is an asset to those who travel to Italy.
4. Blend with the Crowd
One of the best ways to get a feel of the Italian culture is to live like they do. For a truly authentic experience make sure you visit the local eating places- the “Osteria” and the “Trattoria”. These are smaller versions of a restaurant with fresh produce and are usually family run. Additionally, in the evening the Italians go for an “aperitivo” at the bar. An aperitivo includes a drink with some light snacks and is the perfect time to mingle and make new friends. Don’t be shy in taking the first step. Whenever I am in Italy I usually have an aperitivo and observe the locals to catch a few Italian words for my Italian vocabulary. I also sometimes talk to the barista if the bar is not too crowded. Italians are so friendly and always make you feel comfortable.
5. Respect the Culture and Be Flexible
Respecting the culture of the country you are traveling is of prime importance. In Italy it is essential that you cover yourself when you visit a church. I usually carry a scarf with me all the time and wear half/full sleeves. Please avoid mini skirts and hot pants when you are in the church. Another important aspect of the culture is to dress well when in Italy. By that I don’t mean put on flashy makeup and accessories. But probably carry a nice cross body bag, wear comfortable shoes and a simple dress. Italians take their dressing very seriously and it is always more fun to be looked at in a nice way than be stared at. Italian region take pride in their products so don’t order a wrong food/wine in the wrong region. For instance, Chianti is in Tuscany and if I am in Lecce, Puglia, I’d ask for their local wine and not Chianti. Rome is famous for Cacio e pepe so eat that in Rome rather than in Sicily.
Ishita is an Indian blogger who is very passionate about Italy and feels deeply connected to its language, culture, food and history. She writes about her travels on her blog Italophilia (www.ishitasood.com) and visits Italy every year. She can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as @Italophilia and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.