Como: lake and city - history, interesting facts, how to get there and what to see

Posted on Apr 20, 2022      144

One of the deepest lakes in Europe lies in a very picturesque area near the foothills of the Alps, so visitors to the region landscape seem like a picture.

Geographic location

Lake Como lies near Lombardy in northern Italy. It is the third largest in Italy. Its total area is 146 km square, 47 km long, 4 km wide and up to 410 m deep, making it one of the deepest bodies of water in Europe. The lake is surrounded by mountains up to 600 m high on the south side and 2400 m high on the north. Como comprises three branches, and from above, resembles a slingshot or the letter Y. Each branch has a name: the Colico, the northern arm, the Lecco, the southeastern arm, the Como, the southwestern arm. The area takes its name from the coastal town of Como. The water is surrounded by many towns and villages: Lecco, Cernobbio, Colico, Lierna, Lallo, Menaggio, Bellagio, Varenna, etc.

To get to Como is easiest from Milan. Buses and trains go from both airports, Malpensa and Linate, as well as from the city itself. The travel time is about an hour. Slightly longer trip from Bergamo.

The history of Lake Como

The settlement called Como, which was founded in the 4th century B.C. by the Celts, is found amid the hills near to the present town of Como. Two centuries later, Comum became part of the Roman Republic, and in the time of Julius Caesar (I century B.C.) it was moved to its present location. The dictator ordered to drain the swamp at the southern end of the lake and laid the city-fortress with a typical imperial grid of perpendicular streets. The city was called Novum Comum. However, the lake that fed the city became known as Como only in the Middle Ages. Ancient Roman authors referred to the body of water as Lacus Larius (Lake Lario). The name Lario is of pre-Roman origin and means “deepened place”. Since the times of the Roman Empire, the rich and powerful built their residences in the picturesque valley of the lake. For example, the Roman poet Virgil, writer and politician Gaius Pliny the Younger, and the legendary artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci all lived here.

The City of Como

The city of Como has the status of the center of the province of the same name. It is full of historical monuments and ancient architecture. One of the oldest buildings is the Basilica of St. Abbondio. It was built in the XI century on the site of Apostolorum Basilica erected in the V century in honor of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. During a restoration in 1863, stones from the early Christian church were discovered: they can now be seen in the Basilica of St. Abbondio. Another important landmark is the Cathedral, or Duomo. It was founded at the end of the fourteenth century and completed in the seventeenth century. From almost anywhere in Como, you can see Baradello Castle. Its walls rise above the city at almost 400 meters. The castle was built in the XII century for defense. And of course Como is famous for its beautiful villas, which have historical value. Tourist must see are Villa Carlotta, built at the end of the 17th century and Villa Olmo, built at the end of the 18th century. You can see the whole town from Mount Brunate, the top of which can be reached by cable car. The funicular was opened in 1894 - then it was still running on steam. Near the funicular is a special cannon, which announces the approach of noon. It was installed in 1912.

Interesting facts about Lake Como

  • Lake Como is fed by the waters of the mountain river Adda.
  • Como appears in several films, among them “Star Wars. Episode II: Attack of the Clones”, “Ocean’s 12”, “Casino Royale”, “A Month at the Lake”.
  • Four bridges cross the lake. The oldest crossing is the Visconti Bridge (1336 ), named after the ruler of Milan Azzone Visconti. The ancient bridge has an intricate, multi-arched design. The others are much younger: the railway bridge (1885), the Kennedy Bridge (1956) and the Alessandro Manzoni Bridge (1985).
  • There is only one island on the lake called Comacina (Isola Comacina). It is in the southwestern arm of the lake, near to the towns of Lenno and Bellagio. It is home to artists and people of art.
  • Lake Como rarely has heat because the area is mountainous. The hottest time is in July - August, when the air temperature reaches 25-30 degrees and the water gets up to 23 degrees.
  • Lake Como is navigable. Between the coastal towns on the schedule, ply boats and ferries.
  • The town of Como is home to the Aeroclub (Via Masia 44, founded in 1930), where you can book a sightseeing tour over the lake or take some flying lessons.