“That branch of Lake Como…” well, we all know it, at least we heard something about it. But have you ever thought that it could be a very nice place to visit with your family? I did it several times, and it is indeed a place close to my heart, having visited it a lot during my own childhood.
I am going to tell you about three of my favourite places around the lake: Como, Bellagio, Bellano, three cities easily reachable from Como enjoying a peaceful boat trip.
Capital of the province itself is Como, a city which is still surrounded by the ancient walls and where the old little streets of the historical centre make their way to the lake. In sunny days the place is crowded by tourists in shorts and fishermen’s hats and young travellers come to stare at the beauties of Como through their sunglasses.
The city itself is radiant, enriched by the lakefront, the little harbour with its pretty boats, the seagulls and the pier from which the boats meant to cross the lake depart, aiming to the Palladian villas or to one of the other hamlets perched on the mountainside. Wandering through the city it is impossible to miss the Dome, beautiful and candid religious building, surrounded by a characteristic flea market. From there it is also possible to take the cable car in order to reach Brunate, where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views on the lake.
During your stay in Como I would heartily suggest a visit to the local museums, the big Saturday market and some shopping in the central roads, where you can buy one of those silk foulards for which Como is famous. Those foulards are entirely handmade by some old ladies living just outside the city and devoted to their job sitting on wooden stools outside their houses.
For the next step I suggest you to take the ferry on the way to Bellagio.
Bellagio for me is like poetry, with its Grand Hotel in an ancient historical mansion, its little ancient porches and all those little houses perched on the mountainside. Bellagio is the “pearl of the lake”, so much loved by tourists that finding a parking space is impossible. Bellagio is also home of some beautiful Botanical Gardens – which in spring will enchant your children with their colourful explosion of mysterious alleys and steep stone stairs. Finally, Bellagio has a breathtaking belvedere, which can be made even more enjoyable with a traditional gelato in your hands.
At this point it’s time for another ferry trip to Bellano. The first thing you will be able to see is its very small pier, and, if you decide to go during the weekend, an incredible amount of tourists will be around for a tan.
Bellano offers a lot of facilities to its affectionate visitors, including pools and parasols, because the lake is incredibly cold also in August, and the brave tourists are just a few. In Bellano your children will be easily delighted by the cleft called Orrido, famous for its beauty since 18th century. Touristic guides and ancient prints talk thoroughly about this water stream which runs through the cracks between the rocks and is able, during the right season, to activate the forges used for the production of iron and the spinning mills.
Today the Pioverna stream is mostly used for the hydroelectric power station, but the charm of Orrido, with its jumps, its cracks and its view of the city stays intact, supported by the legends surrounding its history. Some of these legends talk about voices heard in the streams and faces impressed into the rocks. Orrido is also home of a traditional restaurant where to enjoy the view before going back home.
This was my personal “branch of the Como lake”, and I hope I made you curious about it, and your children too, since, if beauty stays in the eyes of the beholder, the eyes of the children are the ones to trust.