Don’t you love it when friends organise weddings in places you’ve always wanted to go – what a perfect excuse for a holiday – so when we got a save the date for July in Lake Como we were pumped and instantly got on HomeAway looking at villas.
We rustled up 3 other couples (patient ones, without kids) and booked a sweet villa in the hills above Menaggio. The pool was a hit with the old and youngs kids and the views of Bellagio and Varenna were killer.
We spent our first few days exploring the “golden triangle” of Como and used the (fairly) regular ferries to shuttle us between towns. They’re all fairly small, so exploring our home base of Menaggio didn’t take long. We wandered the lanes, shops and sampled the gelato – La Fabrica del Gelato was the best we tried.
Our first adventure was to Varenna which was ultimately our favourite of the popular three. Quaint cobblestone streets wind you along the shoreline past plenty of places for refreshment. Dodging a passing rainshower we spent some time at the Hotel Royal Victoria.
From there we wandered the endless gardens of Villa Monastero. You felt you were in a lord’s lakeside getaway at some time during ancient Roman Empire and it’s incredible that this was one house!
The next day, before an evening BBQ, we explored Bellagio. This is clearly the most popular town in the area and it was mobbed – tourists and photos of food on menus everywhere. It obviously has its charms though and wandering the waterside promenades was relaxing.
For lunch, we ventured uphill and away from the crowds to find a lovely respite at Bilacus, before exploring the over-prices shops. Our friends told us if you keep heading uphill the tourists disappear and that’s where the true beauty was, but we had to head back.
If strolling towns is a little too sedate for you perhaps tearing round a lake on a speedboat is more your thing? You can self captain a crew of 6 for as long as you like (€130 for 2 hours) and explore the area.
In the evening we went up in to the hills of Menaggio to eat at our favourite restaurant of the trip (we went back) – Laconda La Volpe. The views were stunning, service was excellent and food was sublime. Obey the golden rule “always order tiramisu for dessert in Italy”.
We had another fantastic meal at La Fagurida, above Tremezzo – rustic, home cooked Italian with no pasta/pizza in sight. Queue more Capreses, roast rabbit and ossobuco. The wine was excellent too and Charlotte found the cellar, but couldn’t quite get in.
Not content with the views at Volpe, the next morning we set off on a short hike we’d heard about – an hour in total with Charlie in the ergo carrier. Driving up and parking by Chiesa San Gregorio a shaded path takes you ~20 mins to Santuario Beata Vergine Di Breglia: a gorgeous church.
The wedding we were attending was down in Lenno where some of the best Villas in Como can be found. Villa Balbianello was used as the backdrop for Anakin and Padme’s wedding in Star Wars II and where Daniel Craig receives him poker winnings in Casino Royale. The place is stunning so you can see why.
This was our favourite villa and a must-see. Charlotte enjoyed being let loose too. We paid (€10) to wander the gardens (passing on the interior tour), took a 30 min hilly walk to get there and opted for a quick speedboat back (€5).
The other stunning villa here is Villa Carlotta which, somehow, our friends had organised to get married at! A huge home and gardens with great views this would’ve been a great place to explore, but sipping prosecco and congratulating our friends was much more fun.
In the evening we dined at parties over at Lido Di Lenno, which would be a great place to laze away hot days.
Until next time