“The most beautiful lake in the world”
The Huffington Post
The terraces of Parco della Vigna (Vineyard Park) at Castello di Rossino overlook Lake Como (or Lario), which in 2014 was ranked as the most beautiful lake in the world by the online newspaper “The Huffington Post”, for its microclimate and its environment dotted with villas and villages. His unusual and complex geometry is often compared to an inverted “Y” or–as goes the popular local saying–that of a man: “Lake Como is shaped like a man, with a leg in Lecco and the other in Como, the nose in Domaso and the rear in Bellagio. ”
Starting from Como and going through the busy towns of the west shore, there is Cernobbio, home to monumental homes such as Villa d’Este, Villa Erba and Villa Pizzo (the latter built in the Sixteenth century); after Laglio–known for the residence of actor George Clooney–Brenno is one of the oldest villages, remained virtually unchanged for over a century.
The only island formation of the lake is the island of Comacina, medieval independent stronghold which allied with the city of Milan during the ten-year war against Como (1118-1127): uninhabited today, it still retains the Seventeenth-century church of San Giovanni, the inn with restaurant (famous for stays of director Alfred Hitchcock) and the small rationalist constructions by architect Pietro Lingeri. The peninsula of Lavedo borders the Gulf of Venus and culminates in Villa Balbianello, assets of FAI (Italian Environment Fund), where many movie scenes were shot–“Piccolo Mondo Antico”, “Star Wars” and “Agent 007 – Casino Royale.”
At the northern edge of the lake, at the confluence of Mera and Adda rivers, it lies the natural reserve of Pian di Spagna, a flat area of great interest, while a little further south lies the picturesque village of Corenno Plinio, famous for its sport activities related to sailing and windsurfing. At the center of the Lario, Lierna is called “the little pearl of Lake Como” with Riva Bianca, while in Varenna you can visit the eclectic Villa Monastery, which houses both a botanical garden and a house museum. From Varenna, the car ferry can reach Bellagio, located on the tip of the promontory that separates the three branches of the lake, known for its monumental villas (Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni, home of the Rockefeller Foundation), as well as the staircase full of shops which overlooks the home of Franz Liszt, where President Kennedy paid once a visit.
Going down to Como, in Nessus it’s worth mentioning the old houses clustered around the deep and picturesque gorge located at the mouth of the Tuf and Nosè valleys, and the medieval bridge of Civera. The mysterious Villa Pliniana in Torno is definitely worth a visit: its halls, in past centuries, were guests of Napoleon, Alessandro Manzoni, Ugo Foscolo, Stendhal, Byron, Giuseppe Verdi, Vincenzo Bellini and Rossini. Leonardo da Vinci studied the intermittent spring gushing from a rock, now enclosed in the inner courtyard of the building; Fogazzaro set his novel “Malombra” here, and Mario Soldati filmed here the eponymous movie.
There’s a boat service line: the longer cruises are headed to Como, with departures in the morning and return in the evening and a chance to stop in the selected locations. The service has been available for almost two centuries and it’s part of the very history of the territory.