Situated in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, Lake Como is famed for its glorious natural beauty. Sat in the foothills of the Alps, the deep blue inverted “Y” shaped lake spans a huge area and is surrounded by rugged mountains that form the backdrop to the area’s rustic old towns.
It’s no surprise that Lake Como has a reputation as a playground to the rich and wealthy, there’s so much natural beauty and charm to explore here.
Lakeside city of Como
What better way to get to know Lake Como than discovering the 2000 year old city of Como itself?
Traditionally, the city of Como has been a little overlooked by tourists, being used as a hub to pass through on the way to popular spots like Menaggio, Bellagio and Tremezzo. Things are changing, today is widely being seen as the place to be for it’s Medieval town centre steeped in history and its natural lakeside location.
Cattedrale di S. Maria Assunta (Como Cathedral)
Our first stop was for a Gelato, and why not?… pistachio and chocolate. The sun was shining and the pace of life in Como was perfectly leisurely for a wander around the colourful streets. We hadn’t even made it more than a hundred metres before I was reaching for my camera and snapping photos of Cattedrale di S. Maria Assunta (Como Cathedral). The pale stoned Cathedral looms over the pedestrians below, for the photographers amongst us it’s almost impossible to squeeze the entrance to the cathedral into the shot due to its sheer size. I found myself shuffling backwards into one of the restaurants that spill out onto the Piazza Duomo, just to get the right shot!
Stepping inside the cathedral, the eyes can take a while to adjust to the light. The cathedrals interior is as impressive as the outside, with beautifully meticulously designed, detailed and preserved features and impressive ceiling carvings. The building is a great example of how a cathedral has evolved over the years and features gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture. Entrance is free but you can donate if you like.
Como is full of colourful alleyways, streets with symmetrical wooden shutters and iron balconies covered in flowers and plants.
Riding the funicular
We stopped for a quick coffee and a spot of people watching before heading up towards Como’s famed but unassuming funicular. Once on board we sped up the mountain side looking down from the funiculars rear window as the town beneath us became smaller and smaller. After a seven minute cruise to the top, we arrived at Brunate, where we were greeted with bright sunshine and expansive panoramic views across Lake Como.
Steep trek to the lighthouse
After taking the easy route up to Brunate it was time for a bit of a hike, a whole 650 metres in fact, with the steep trek up to the light house at Faro Voltiano. Pack your trekking trainers for this section as it is rocky and pretty steep, it’s a good workout and an enjoyable bit of exercise. We passed quaint little churches and gardens bursting with flowers and between the houses there were glimpses of the deep blue of Lake Como. On reaching the small little village at the top, we were face with a final push up some steps to reach the Faro Voltiano lighthouse. Standing at 29 metres high the tower was a project by the engineer Gabriele Giussani dedicated to the inventor of the electrical battery, Alessandro Volta.
Once beyond the shadow of the lighthouse there are three large wooden crosses and a truly spectacular view down on Lake Como. The is view said to be the best view of Lake Como, it’s certainly a place that makes you feel like you can get a true grasp of the sheer scale of the area. It’s like you’re looking down on the world from way up high, such is the height and steepness of the drop below. Peering down, if you look closely you can spot tiny little sailing boats passing by and miniature looking towns nestled at the foot of the mountains. It’s peaceful and feels removed from life going on back down on the lakeside, it’s a hard place to leave. We sat soaking up the suns rays, with the birds tweeting for dusk and a slight breeze circling the lighthouse.
“It feels like you’re looking down on the world”
- It’s around a 2-3 hours round trip.
- Funicular costs 5.50 Euros for the round trip.
- If hiking up from Brunate isn’t for you, then you can get a taxi to the top.
- Faro Voltiano from Brunate: 30 minute walk, 650 metres.
If it’s open, try the view from the top of the lighthouse itself. It’s said to be even more spectacular.
Where We Ate
At the top near to Faro Voltiano in a small village we ate at La Polenteria. Friendly staff serving traditional dishes including variations of Polenta (of course).
Disclosure – I travelled to Lake Como as part of the #InLombardia365 project managed by iambassador and in association with the Lombardia Tourism Board. Tourism Board. TravMonkey maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.