Shaped like the letter 'Y', Lake Como is dotted with several towns including Como and Lecco at the ends of the southwestern and southeastern branches of the lake, whilst the smaller towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna are situated at the intersection of the three branches of the lake.
Hollywood has famously embraced Como and there are Michelin starred restaurants, cocktail bars, boutiques and beach clubs for those who want a taste of Como’s high life. But the lake’s charm lies in its discreet sophistication. Villages such as Bellagio, Menaggio and Sala Comacina have long been admired by tourists from all over the world, but they retain their integrity and character.
Types of property
World renowned for its attractive palaces and villas, some dating back to the 16th Century, real estate in Lake Como continues to attract a many affluent and well-known figures.
Lake Maggiore is the most westerly of Italy’s three great lakes, acting as a boundary between the regions of Piemont, Lombardy and Switzerland and spreading for nearly 70 kilometres from Arona in the south to Locarno in the north.
The area offers stunning mountain scenery rising steeply up from a beautiful glacial lake, which at its widest point is only 4.5km and offers some of the most picturesque lakeside towns in the area including Stresa on the western shore.
For many buyers, Milan is the gateway to the Italian lakes – Maggiore, Garda and the wishbone shaped Como. New lakefront resorts are emerging around Como, but its the historical buildings that exude the real magic, including the 16th century Villa d’Este hotel, set in about 25 acres of gardens, and palatial waterfront villas that rarely come onto the open market.
Como is approximately 57.6 km from Malpensa Milan Airport.
Como has two train stations: the main station Como S. Giovanni, and a smaller one that connects with lake ferries, Como Nord Lago. Lake Como is the first stop of many visitors to northern Italy, and is well connected by rail service to Milan – both from Como on the southwest corner and Lecco on the southeast corner.
Italian Lakes Weather
Surrounded by mountains, the Lakes area of Northern Italy enjoy a mild and temperate climate, comprising of long, sunny summers and relatively warm winters. The best times to visit are from April to the end of October, when many escape from the humidity and heat of Milan to take advantage of the area’s fresh summer weather.
In the winter months of November to the end of March the warmth and humidity from Milan brings an intense fog and dampness to the Lakes region, with snow not an uncommon sight in December or January. It is important to note that residents of the smaller villages and towns choose to leave the area during this time, with businesses and some hotels closing as visibility becomes poor. Unoccupied properties for sale are often left unheated and obtaining keys can sometimes be difficult. Advice should be sought prior to travel if you wish to visit property for sale on the Lakes out of season.
History of the Italian Lakes
The Lakes region was entirely submerged during the last ice age, covered by a large glacier. Due to the slow progress of mountain and rock movement, the formation of glacial lakes later gave shape to the region. Originally an important trade route, the Lakes region has been populated since the early ages. The area has its modern day foundations in the Roman era, when soldiers used the lakes as a favoured retreat. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries many famous writers and composers stayed in the large villas on the lake, giving birth to a host of famous works that were composed in the region.
Property Selling Points
Take a boat trip around Lake Como to view the shoreline’s most prestigious and historic residences from the water. Walk along the beautiful oleander lined promenade at Bellagio, noted by many as Italy’s most picturesque town. Discover the islands of Lake Maggiore, in particular the Isola Bella residence on the Borromeo island for a location steeped in history.
Lakes Property For Sale
Not surprisingly, lake view and waterfront property for sale regularly feature in Knight Frank’s listings. Houses and smaller apartments in the towns and villages of the Italian Lakes region are also very popular with international clientèle. Waterfront property for sale in favoured spots such as Cernobbio, Laglio, Argenio and Bellagio command the highest interest. Historic properties will often require renovation or refurbishment, and waterfront properties will usually have the lake road either directly in front or behind the property, while surrounding land is usually small and often steep or terraced.
Getting to the Italian Lakes
Access to the Italian lakes area is convenient by air, road and rail. International flights arrive to Milan’s Malpensa, Linate or Bergamo Airports, from where a train or bus service can connect you to the lakes in approximately 1 hour. The lakes are equally accessible from the airport by car, with a modern motorway network linking you directly to the main towns. Train travel to the region from other parts of mainland Italy via Milan is also easy.
Read more about property in Italy in our Italian View publication.