See Lake Como, Italy, as part of our full Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps cruise and land itinerary.

In 1818, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “This lake exceeds anything I ever held in beauty.” He was talking about Lake Como, and from the high and mighty of the Roman Empire to modern superstars like George Clooney and Madonna, the rich and famous have long been inspired by its stunning natural splendor.

A Storybook Setting

Some places simply have to be seen to be believed, and Lake Como is filled with them. The Y-shaped lake, one of the deepest in Europe, is nestled beneath the Alps and boasts a gorgeous subtropical microclimate that means visitors can sip cappuccino beneath wisteria and palm trees or relax on the beach while gazing across the water at majestic, snow-capped mountains. The surreally gorgeous scenery led The Huffington Post to name Lake Como the most beautiful lake in the world in 2014.

There is no shortage of man-made beauty to be found, either. Lake Como is surrounded by villages, each with their own unique character. These villages are home to magnificent villas, and while most of the villas themselves are not open to the public, their spectacular Italian Renaissance-style gardens certainly are.

You can easily travel between villages by car, but Lake Como has a robust ferry system that tempts visitors to spend a day on the water, leisurely drifting from one postcard-perfect village to the next. You can journey back through 2,000 years of history in the walled city of Como, indulge in a decadent meal by lantern light in Bellagio, take a passeggiata along the lakeside promenade in Menaggio, or hop a funicular up to Brunate for a panoramic vista that will leave you breathless.

It’s no wonder that when the James Bond, Star Wars, and Ocean’s franchises needed settings that radiated luxury, class, and beauty, they all turned to Lake Como.

Beautiful Bellagio

Some call it the “Pearl of Lake Como.” Others, the most beautiful town in Europe. Seated at the junction of the lake’s three branches, Bellagio offers unrivaled views of its natural setting. The town itself is an enchanting cornucopia of cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings whose every window and stairway bursts with flowers. We dare you to try to take a bad picture here – it’s simply not possible.

The town of Bellagio is small, but its pleasures are many. Treat yourself to some of the region’s finest shopping, stroll through rhododendrons and azaleas in the 200-year-old gardens at Villa Melzi, dance beneath the stars to live music at the wharf, or enjoy a glass of wine while admiring the scenery at La Punta, a restaurant located at the very tip of the peninsula where Lake Como divides into two.

Smooth as Silk

As if awe-inspiring views and picturesque villages weren’t enough, Lake Como is also famous for producing some of the finest silk in the world. In 1400, the Duke of Milan ordered the planting of mulberry trees around the lake, providing a veritable feast for silkworms. By 1972, this little region of Italy was producing more silk than China or Japan.

You can learn all about silk production and the importance of the silk trade to the Lake Como region at the Como Silk Museum. If you would rather get a more hands-on education, you can find shops selling exquisite silk scarves, ties, and more in virtually any of the towns along the lake. World-renowned silk brand Frey, which recently celebrated its 120th anniversary, has stores in Bellagio and Cernobbio; while Mantero has its factory and outlet in Grandate, just a 15 minute drive from the Como’s city center.

Experience Lake Como as part of a pre- or post-cruise land program on our new Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps itinerary, beginning in 2021!

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