The tourist hub of Italy’s most popular lake, an upside down Y shape, is centred in what is known as the Golden Triangle. The centre of the triangle, where all three arms of the lake meet, is the village of Bellagio, called the Pearl of Lake Como. It’s one of the oldest villages on the lake, and also one of, if not the most visited. Although, to my mind, not the most charming for this very reason. But we’ll come to that in a minute.
The Golden Triangle is bounded by Lenno to the south on the western side of the Como arm of the lake, Menaggio on the north-western part, Varenna on the north-eastern side of the northern arm and Bellagio, right in the central heart of the lake where the Como and Lecco arms of the lake meet. To the north is Switzerland and the views of the Swiss Alps in spring and autumn from this part of the lake are stunning.
There’s an easy access day trip around the Golden Triangle you can take by ferry, visiting the various towns mentioned here in either half a day or a full day. This doesn’t include George Clooney’s villa at Laglio, but there is a boat tour that can take you past many such famous villas as a separate trip.
It’s difficult to grasp the size of Lake Como. It takes an hour, for example, for the usual ferry service to travel from Como just to Bellagio. It’s the most breathtaking ferry ride you’ll ever have in your life, so I wouldn’t let the hour deter you. In fact it will be an hour lost in wonder at the incredible historic villas, mountain views, cable car accessible only houses, churches, perfect little bays where the ferry stops – you’ll want to get out at every one. And you can! But again, more of that later.