Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - RICH HISTORY -

The city of Como, on the south­ern tip of the south­west­ern arm of the lake, man­ages its dual per­son­al­ity with ap­par­ent panache. Part his­toric tourist at­trac­tion, part in­dus­trial city and home of Ital­ian silk man­u­fac­tur­ing, it is also the gate­way for vis­i­tors to the re­gion.

The fer­ries drop us along­side a ma­rina as full as any ci­tycen­tre carpark. The fore­shore is shaped by a se­ries of im­pos­ing build­ings, in­clud­ing sev­eral ho­tels, large wa­ter­side parks, cafes and gela­te­rias. And right in the thick of things is the ex­pan­sive Pi­azza Cavour, lined with open-air cafes and a very help­ful in­for­ma­tion of­fice. It’s a great place to re­lax and peo­ple­watch. Lead­ing off from the pi­azza is a net­work of nar­row shop-lined cob­bled lanes, part of the labyrinth that is the old cen­tre of town.

The weather will prob­a­bly be too nice to spend all day in church but the 11th cen­tury Basil­ica di Sant’ Ab­bon­dio, the Chiesa di San Fedele and the vast Duomo, shouldn’t be missed.

If you’ve had enough of his­tory, Como is a great spot for shop­ping; nearby fac­to­ries sup­ply many of the top in­ter­na­tional fash­ion houses .

For a dra­matic fi­nale and ea­gle’s eye view of Como, the har­bour and the lake beyond, take the fu­nic­u­lar to the hill­top vil­lage of Brunate. From here, there’s noth­ing to do but en­joy the view and the ride back.

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