Como, Italy

Como is situated at the head of the lake and is an ancient town over 400 years old with magnificent churches and historic monuments.

The largest and southernmost town on the lake isn’t likely to charm you quite as much as some of the other towns and villages, but the historic center is lovely if you take the time to stroll it and pop into its little churches and cafes.

A center of silk making for a very long time, this city traces its roots to the Gauls, and, after them, the Romans, and bustles with commerce and industry. You’ll probably want to stay in one of the more peaceful settings farther up the lake, but Como amply rewards a day’s visit, with some fine Renaissance churches and palaces and a nice lake front promenade. For visitor information the regional tourist office has extensive details on hotels, restaurants, and camping grounds around the lake, from its offices at Piazza Cavour 17 (tel. 031-269-712 or 031-264-215; or on The tourist office opens daily 9am to 1pm and 2 to 5pm (sometimes closed Sun in winter). There is also a city tourist office in a little trailer that has moved around a bit since it opened in 2000, but stays near Piazza del Duomo, and seems to have settled on a spot along Via Maestri Comacini around the right side of the cathedral (tel. 031-337-1063). It’s open Monday to Friday 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm. Trains run between 1 to 3 times per hour connecting Milan and Como’s Station San Giovanni on Piazzale San Gottardo. Also from Milan’s Piazza Garibaldi station, 55-60 min and high speed from Milan’s Stazione Centrale station, 40 min.). At the heart of Como’s walled Old Town, Piazza San Fedele has many 400-year-old buildings, and the basilica, one of the masterpieces of the maestri comacini (masters of Como). At the top of Via Cantù you’ll see the old wall’s most spectacular standing tower, the Porta Vittoria. Nearby is the very austere church of San Abbondio. Rest awhile in its cloisters, then climb the hill behind it and go to the top of the Baradello Tower, for a lovely view of the entire lake. Next, walk back down the hill and visit Como’s third great basilica, the early romanesque San Corpoforo.