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.