Lake Como, Italy
The fact that George Clooney has a house on Lake Como was enough to convince me it was a “must see” in Italy. :) When we visited Italy, we flew into Milan and took a quick one hour train ride to Varenna, which is part of the lakes district. The lakes district includes several towns and we decided to stay in Varenna thanks to Rick Steves’ suggestion. It was just as quaint and picturesque as I had imagined.
It's easy to get around the mid-lake village using the Lake Como ferry service. As you can see from the photo below, it not only offers a mode of transportation, but also the opportunity to see the lake in all its beauty. The ferry does a 50 minute loop between Varenna, Bellagio, Menaggio, Cadenabbia, Tremezzo, and Lenno. You can hop on and off at any of the stops. While each town has their own unique offerings, we decided (and recommend) to visit Bellagio.
Bellagio is one of the most romantic and picturesque places to visit in Italy. Full of century-old building with modern-day hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and shops, it's no wonder how Bellagio got its nickname, the Pearl of the Lake. We found Varenna somewhat similar, in terms of the design of the buildings and cobblestone roads, but it is a bit larger and more down to earth for our taking - you won't see a Ferrari F430 zipping around the narrow corners.
We stayed at Hotel Du Lac in Varenna which I highly recommend. It has an outstanding reputation with the locals and offers some of the best views from any room in the hotel. They offer a free breakfast in the morning, as well as free Wi-Fi. The fall leaves were on full display as they covered the entire lakeside patio as we sipped our coffee and nibbled on croissants (with Nutella).
For Ben, this was his first Italian experience and it surpassed every expectation. The area is so peaceful and quiet especially compared the rest of Italy! It was the perfect first stop to relax and adjust to the time difference.