Car ferry on Lake Como, Italy
Ferries or Boats, the best way to see Lake Como, is from the water. Dramatic vistas, snow capped mountain ranges falling into the lake, sunsets, sun and moon rises to equal no others in the world, nothing can compare to the scenery on Lake Como that has made it a favorite of writers and artists for centuries.
But don’t be fooled into thinking you can boat around Lake Como in a couple of days. It’s a massive lake. We once drove around every windy shore and it took more than four hours.
Boating on Lake Como is the easiest way to see the area. Driving in July and August is really a nightmare on some of the narrow lake roads. The one from Como to the top of the lake, past Laglio, George Clooney’s village, is one of the most beautiful but worst for driving, where buses and trucks trying to pass each other can sometimes get stuck for an hour or more.
Much better to consider a boating holiday. Using ferries, you can spend your whole Lake Como vacation visiting the various hamlets, which go to almost every village on Lake Como’s shores. In the summer months, June to around the last week of September, ferries are frequent. But please be aware that ferrying from Como to Bellagio can easily take an hour. Ferries stop in the various villages along the way, which in itself is a delightful excursion worth making time for.
The most active ferry is the one from Bellagio to the Clooney western shore, which snakes along the Como arm of Lake Como right up to the northern tip, close to the Swiss Alps. This leaves every half an hour and takes only ten minutes. It’s a car ferry so if you do have a car, especially if it’s in the shoulder months of April, May, September or October, you can easily pop over there from Bellagio to explore the many villages, villas and restaurants that side has to offer.
However, if you’re not taking a car, it’s better to take ferries or, better still, plan boating on Lake Como, to your exact destination. In the most interesting part of Lake Como, called the Golden Triangle, these stops include Varenna, Menaggio, Tremezzo and Lenno. Ferries to these destinations run about every hour or so, depending on the time of day. Be aware that Italian life stops for lunch, including ferries. The only exception are shops in Bellagio proper and restaurants everywhere, which have very strict lunch hours from 12 or 12.30 until 2.30 or 3pm, beyond which you’ll be lucky to find even a humble piadina to quell your hunger.
If you find traveling to a timetables too restrictive, boating around Lake Como is the way to go. You can drive yourself, for half or a full day of boating on the lake. These cost around 180 euros for half a day, but you can go where and when you like, park for lunch and hop back on to take your friends and family on for an aperitivo or back home.
Parking your private speed boat on Lake Como, Italy
Sunbathe on your own private speed boat, Lake Como, Italy
Or, if a guided boat or sailing tour is more your style, which usually incorporate some kind of lunch into the price, we can highly recommend Luca and his Australian wife Jennine, who operate a three generation boat hire business called Bellagio Water Limousines which offers superior boating tours and warm hospitality: www.bellagiowaterlimousines.com.
And if you want a boating holiday around Lake Como with family or friends, and want a secluded villa, away from the madding crowds, in your own paradise where you can watch others boating on Lake Como from a relaxing distance, Villa Ponti Bellavista provides such a view. Book direct now for the best rates.
View of Lake Como from the swimming pool at Villa Ponti Bellavista
If style is a priority, hiring a classic wooden boat with driver is a must. A bygone era whispers in your ear as you speed towards a restaurant on the shore of Lake Como where you will most likely be the only guest arriving by chauffeur driven speed boat. www.comoclassicboats.com
Either way, leave enough time to fully explore the nooks and crannies of the incredible wonder that is a boating holiday on Lake Como. As always book direct for the best rates with Villa Ponti Bellavista and read more about our incredible Italian villa here.
Spring flowers in bloom at Lake Como, Italy
Many people who visit Bellagio and Lake Como in general, find the crowds can be daunting in the high summer season of June, July and August. Those who holiday in September benefit from the same fantastic sunny weather but less tourists to share it with as the children have gone back to school and the streets are empty again. There are better deals on accommodation and most of the services, like boat hire, restaurants and historic villa visits are still operating.
October visitors can see the beautiful autumn colours of the fall while traveling from village to village in ferry boats where you can sit instead of having to stand without the summer crowds. The air is crisp and clear in November when you can see snow on the mountain peaks, including the Swiss Alps which you can see from the ferries in the Golden Triangle, which encompasses Lenno, Menaggio, Varenna and Bellagio.
In Autumn, the stunning golds, reds and orange forests surrounding Lake Como can sometimes seem like the countryside is ablaze at sunset and early mornings. At Villa Ponti Bellavista, immersed in a dense forest, the foliage can be breathtaking. This, coupled with nightly fires in the 1960s Mad Men talking pit and the Grigna Mountain Range opposite the villa, often on fire with the setting sun torching its face, is a spectacular private vista few on Lake Como will ever experience.
Spring as well as Autumn has the most jaw dropping scenery. In March and April the microclimate of Lake Como sees wisteria blooming all over the lake as well as early hydrangeas and a host of spring flowers as the gardens begin coming alive again after their winter hibernation. You will see the white peaks, green slopes and deep blue lake while traveling from village to village in the ferry boats. In these seasons I never feel more blessed and grateful to be alive.
Although many hotels, shops and restaurants in Lake Como close down for the winter, many reopen again for Christmas and New Year when local and traditional celebrations take on a different, more intimate atmosphere. It becomes like a fairytale winter wonderland.
In our town of Civenna, above Bellagio, streets are decorated with festive street lighting and restaurants begin to serve Toc, a winter polenta dish which takes hours to make with a special machine combining cheese and butter into the mixture, constantly and slowing stirring. You can eat it with your hands and not see a speck of oil on your fingers, it’s so integrated and delicious.
Bellagio and Como also have fireworks and beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. Tremezzo, a short ferry ride across the lake, has a Christmas market.
At Villa Ponti Bellavista, on Lake Como, Italy, we have plenty of wood stacked ready for guests to use in the fire of the Mad Men1960s talking pit in the 80msq living room which has 11 curved windows to watch the snow capped mountains come alive above Lake Como. There’s a local private chef who can cook delicious authentic Italian meals, like slow braised wild rabbit, osso bucco, handmade pesto pasta or pumpkin ravioli in the villa while you relax in front of the fire playing board games. Or drinking red mulled wine.
We can organise food deliveries if you want to hole up for a few days and enjoy the sauna and a dip in the pool or watch the moon rise in the hot tub. We can arrange airport pick ups and drops offs as well as visits to a local restaurant with breathtaking views of Bellagio and the three arms of Lake Como, which also does pick ups and drop offs so you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving at night. We can also recommend some hidden mountain restaurants where you won’t see a single tourist and many of my friends have told me have the best pasta they’ve ever tasted.
The villa is the perfect winter getaway with family and friends. Please contact us directly for our Christmas and New Year availability. As always get the best rates by booking direct.