Como: A Beautiful Day Trip from Milan.
Milan is known for its gray and foggy disposition in the winter. We have discovered even on the bleakest of days in the city, you can drive less than an hour in any direction and be in a beautiful location- often with blue skies and sunshine.
The town of Como is a great example. It sits on the southernmost tip of the west “leg” of Lago di Como. Most people flock to the more famed towns of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio and the villas that line their shores, but I think Como is a perfect day trip destination.
Easily reached by car or train, Como is less than an hour away from the city. Perfect for a day trip, the train drops you off right in town- so you can easily walk and explore without the hassle of driving.
Winter is a perfect time to visit any of the towns along Lake Como if you like to hang out with the locals. Crowded and bursting at the seams during high summer season, winter at the lake is more relaxed and enjoyable. Beauty without the chaos, I’d say.
Even if the weather is not all “bluebird skies” in Como, it is still a lovely destination. Of course Como is a great starting point to explore the lake towns, (my favorite is Varenna) but I highly recommend spending a day in Como if you have the time. It has a relaxed, easy vibe about it, and in the winter, you will most likely be the only tourist in town. 🙂
1 day in Como:
9 a Stop for a caffé and get your bearings. Decide what you feel like doing today, see below for some ideas.
9.30a Meander through the Saturday market. (on viale Carlo Cattaneo near the old city wall) This market is heavy with household goods, clothes and shoes- truly a local’s market. I love looking at the kitchen supplies and linens.
10.30a Walk to the Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, not far from the Saturday market. The beautiful apse with 14th century frescoes will make you so happy, and is by far my favorite thing to experience in the town of Como. The building was constructed in 1050, and in the 1800’s they discovered the ruins of the original 5th century church below. Fascinating!
11a Visit the Duomo di Como before it closes for lunch. This 14th century Cathedral is known as the last gothic cathedral built in Italy. It’s a stunning piece of architecture with black and white tiled floors, high arched ceilings, gorgeous stained glass, religious artifacts and ancient tapestries. (Oh, and real candles, always a plus in my book…)
11.30a Walk down to the lake and follow the promenade that surrounds that lake and take in the mountains and water, the boats & birds and imagine what it must be like to live in one of those colorful houses spilling down the hills.
Walk past Tempio Voltiano, the museum & monument dedicated to a local physicist, Alessandro Volta who invented the electric battery.
12p Continue walking along the lakeside promenade past Tempio Voltiano to Villa Olma. This 18th century neoclassical villa hosted many important dignitaries over the years, including Napoleon Bonaparte. The villa is still considered important and hosts many art exhibits and musical performances. Check their website and take a tour if they are open. (I loved the private theater, complete with small stage and circular staircase to the balcony. I totally pictured the lonely goatherd scene from the sound of music while I was there…)
2.30p Window Shop, Meander. Look for the Saturday craft & antiques market which is in the Piazza in front of Basilica di San Fedele, 9 a- 7p most weeks. Buy a piece of art (I fell in love with this beautiful piece below-sold on the street, signed and wrapped by the artist himself, Luigi!)
4p Take the funiculare to the top of the mountain, to the small village of Brunate. Stroll around town, and find some place to have a lunch coffee or a glass of wine. I love the cozy and friendly Trattoria dei Bracconeiri, just below the funiculare stop at the top of the hill. Or, hike to the lighthouse if you are feeling spry!
6p Stop for a drink or gelato before hopping your train back to Milano… scheming your return trip as you head back toward the city…
Read more of my Favorite Day Trips from Milan Series.