While on vacation we took a day to explore Lake Como, or as I called it, the Newport RI of Italy. Lake Como it seems, draws every A-lister at some point to its summer villas. So, what could possibly be so great about the particular lake? I've always been a lake person and love the ocean. But I wasn't expecting this much beauty...I thought we'd seen it all being in Portofino, but it only got better. Imagine the landscape of the Swizz Alps, the villas and architecture of the Amalfi Coast, plus the food and hospitality that's so iconic to Italy. Rugged mountains meet a clear glacier lake that's more than a thousand feet deep with colorful villages peppering its coastline. Lake Como is just difficult enough to get to also. Though it's maintained it's quiet and charm.
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
We visited the Castello di Venzio, again, at the top of a huge hill, but rewards you with great views of the glacial lake. The castle stood for more than one thousand years and once defended the Lombardy region from invaders. The castle is beautiful, but its ghost is a major attraction.
The ghost are cast plaster and are left to the elements throughout the winter until a new season begins and the ghost are cast anew. The ghost are linked to the legend about why the castle was built. In it, it is mentioned the castle was built thanks to the wishes of Theodelinda, who was queen of the Lombards, who ruled this part of Italy for several hundred years. It's said she spent the last years of her life in the area and her heart and soul are buried in the walls and her spirit can be seen on moonlit nights. Of course, the villas are a huge part of Lake Como. As is the Church of San Giorgio and the picturesque village of Bellagio, a postcard worthy town that epitomizes the Italian lake district and should be a mandatory stop on the Riveria.
We wondered along the waterfront then up through cobblestone streets and alleys of the village, and emphasis on up...like many villages on the lake is built on the hill, so be ready to climb some stairs.
This villa might look familiar...the Villa del Balbianello, the most famous villa on Lake Como and for good reason.
It is known for it's lush gardens and the best panoramic views, meticulously maintained gardens, terraced gardens overlooking the lake, opulent interior and historical artifacts and frescoes. It is also known for its appearance in Casino Royale and in Star Wars Attack of the Clones. Originally a Franciscan monastery built in the 13 th century, it was later converted into a villa that was passed down the ranks of the wealthy Visconti family.
The Villa Carlotta is a 17 th century masterpiece, and now a museum, is also well known and worth a visit for just a walk though it's botanical gardens.
And the Villa Monastero was probably my favorite. A magnificent villa that showcases a blend of nature and architecture. Originally a convent, the villa boasts beautiful, terraced gardens, colorful flowers, ancient trees, and some wonderful views.