Lake Como, Italy

By Liz Fischer
This item appears on page 14 of the April 2021 issue.

My husband, Bill, and I have been to Italy many times, visiting Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples and the island of Sicily, but in the summer of 2018 we ventured to new ground in northern Italy, and it was spectacular!

After visiting Switzerland, we flew into Milan, picked up a very expensive small car from SIXT rent a car (in US, phone 888/749-8227, — paying 350 (near $425) for 10 days — and drove to beautiful Lake Como.

We stayed at Hotel Riviera – Cadenabbia (Via Statale Regina, 43, 22012 Cadenabbia, Griante, CO, Italy; phone +39 0344 40422,, on the west side of Lake Como, for 196 for two nights, with breakfast. The staff was very friendly, there was an elevator, and we had an air-conditioned room, but the room was very basic. I would not return.

Our first stop was Villa Carlotta (Via Regina, 2, Tremezzo;, one of the incredible, once-private mansions surrounding Lake Como now open to the public. Located in Tremezzo, just a short ferry ride from Cadenabbia, this Italian Neoclassical villa was completed in 1745. In the mid-1800s, it was a wedding gift to Carlotta, the daughter of a Prussian noblewoman.

The villa itself is basically bare of furniture, but it does have several marble statues, sculpted by Antonio Canova, plus a few tapestries. The real reason to visit Villa Carlotta is for the magnificent gardens. They cover about 20 acres, with trees and plants from all over the world, including my favorite: Australian tree ferns. They’re a gardener’s delight! And around every corner seems to be another beautiful view of Lake Como.

Day passes to tour Lake Como were very affordable via ferries (12 each for seniors). First, we went to Bellagio and strolled through that very upscale town, with its many expensive shops, hotels and restaurants. Bellagio is at a tip of land jutting into the lake. There was a park at the northern end of town overlooking the water, with the Alps in the background. Beautiful views!

Back on the ferry, we rode to Varenna, a much smaller town with fewer shops and restaurants. Since Varenna is huddled next to the lake, Old Town doesn’t have real streets near the water but, rather, walkways up to a main road farther up the mountain.

We walked along a lovely promenade built just above the lake. Other sights in Varenna included two gardens, a church and an 11th-century ruined castle (supposedly with ghosts). Varenna had several beaches for swimming, but they weren’t recommended because of pollution.

By this time, it was mid-afternoon and we were HOT, so we returned to our hotel in Cadenabbia to swim at a pool across the street for 5 each. That pool, along with another one we saw, floated above the lake. What a refreshing way to spend a couple of hours on a hot afternoon!

Tarpon Springs, FL