Located right on the border of Italy and Switzerland in Lombardy, this city is the largest of the many villages bordering Lake Como. Take time out to relax by the lake in one of the many outdoor cafes, and discover the art, history, and designer silk and textile work of this highly productive silk-growing region. Wander through the historic streets to discover ornate churches and palaces before a lunch of Risotto al Pesce Persico, featuring perch caught fresh from the lake.
Learn about the history of silk weaving and craftsmanship in the Educational Silk Museum. Admire the fine textures and patterns displayed in the silk boutiques around the city. Discover some of Como’s historic architecture in the Piazza San Fedele, where the Romanesque Basilica of San Fedele displays incredible 16th-century frescoes.
Luxury mansions and villas from various centuries make this city an architectural delight. Many of these old buildings are now used to accommodate visitors, and the attached gardens are often open to the public. Visit the impressive Villa Olmo, where Napoleon was once a guest. Wander through the gardens and have a glass of wine by the lake. Try one of the restaurants in the city’s many piazzas, where you’ll be treated to local polenta dishes, marinated and sun-dried fish, and gelato.
Base yourself in Como to take boat tours and discover the towns and villages dotting the lake’s edge. The tiny town of Brunate in the hills behind Como is accessible via a scenic funicular ride, and offers stunning views over the lake and Como’s attractive architecture. For adventurous types, the hiking trails leading off from Brunate to nearby towns offer incredible vistas peeking through the forest of the paths.
Como is an easy 30-mile (50-kilometer) drive from Milan, and is also accessible by inexpensive trains leaving from Milan’s airport and its city center. Get around Como using buses and taxis.