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Villa del Balbianello

As Villa del Balbianello appeared in both a James Bond and a Star Wars movie (Casino Royale and Attack of the Clones, respectively), I was expecting something amazing. I was not disappointed. Villa del Balbianello sits on a promontory above Lake Como. It, along with its extravagant gardens, are built vertically and seem to tumble […]

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Basilica di San Fedele

Basilica di San Fedele was constructed in the 6th century, though its façade was rebuilt in the 20th century. The rose windows and frescoes are from the 16th century. The church is designed in the Lombard Romanesque style. It has a unique circular layout with three apses and three naves. The basilica is dedicated to […]

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Duomo di Como

Como’s impressive marble Duomo was designed by Lorenzo degli Spazzi. Construction began in 1396 and lasted 300 years. It’s considered the last Gothic cathedral in Italy. Though its style is mostly Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance and baroque elements are also present. It was built on the ruins of the Romanesque basilica dedicated to Santa Maria Maggiore. […]

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Como

The small city of Como lies at the southern tip of the southwest arm of Lake Como. Look closely and you’ll see a few remaining city walls from the 12th century. The streets’ grid design is courtesy of Julius Caesar, who did a bit of urban planning after the Romans moved in in the 1st […]

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Castello di Vezio

You have to really want to see the ruins of this 13th century castle because the hike is straight uphill along an old mule path, then (still uphill) on stone paths winding around houses inhabited by the town’s 50 residents. The good news is that it’s worth it. If the terrific views won’t get you […]

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Varenna

Varenna is a short ferry ride across Lake Como from Bellagio and is just as attractive. Colorful old buildings sit among lush gardens spilling down the mountain toward the lake. We caught a late-afternoon ferry over and were in a rush to hike to Castello di Vezio, so we hurried through the small, charming, tourist-laden […]

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Chiesa di San Giovanni, Torno

Tiny lakeside Torno and its few villas and (of course!) churches sit on a point on Lake Como. The Romanesque-Gothic Chiesa di San Giovanni is the main attraction as it contains a nail from the cross, supposedly. I was impressed by the landscaped tiered cemetery fronting the lake. Tweet

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Laglio

Laglio is a miniscule commune located at the foot of Mount Colmegnone. Its town center consists of a church, a post office and two convenience shops (both were closed), one of which displayed an old calendar of George Clooney in its window. Life is pretty quiet in this steep, sprawling area with less than 1,000 […]

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Cernobbio

Cernobbio is another gem on Lake Como. It only has around 7,000 residents, so if you’re driving too quickly you’ll miss it. It’s worth stopping to see the small town center, church and the extravagant villas along the lake. The villas are left over from when Lombard nobility flocked here in the summer. Many of […]

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Pescallo

In Bellagio, we followed a hilly path that runs along the side of Giardini di Villa Serbelloni, a sprawling garden, and ended up in Pescallo, a picturesque fishing town on the Lecco-side of the lake. The main population seemed to be cats, who had their own access to the town’s upper level. Tweet

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