Coast road along the western shore of Lake Como
The first small town on the western shore of Lake Como is Cernobbio characterized by a landing-stage in Art Nouveau. It is known for its villas: Villa Erba-Visconti di Modrone, which now is a prestigious congress and exhibition centre, Villa d’Este, luxurious hotel surrounded by an amazing park which overlooks the lake and, last but not least, Villa Pizzo. If you go towards Moltrasio you will see the spectacular stairs of the 18th-century of Villa Passalacqua as well as the particularly elegant front of Villa Erker Hocevar where the great musician Vincenzo Bellini stayed. The next village on your way is Urio, where you will see the huge imposing Castle, a sumptuous villa built in the late 17th century on the ruins of an ancient fortification. The next small towns you may stop in are Laglio and Brienno. Brienno is still fascinating as it was in ancient times when it was a fishermen’s village. Argegno, characterized by its old picturesque bridge, which lies between the lake and the mountains and is 18 km far from Como, is the gate to the spectacular valley called Val d’Intelvi. You can enjoy a beautiful view if you take the cable railway to Pigra, a panoramic balcony at an altitude of 900 m. If you go further you will see Comacina Isle, the only isle of the Lake Como which is some 600 m long. It preserves the ruins of its illustrious past when it was called ‘Chrysopolis’, i.e. the city of gold (or perhaps of Christ). Now, this uninhabited little isle is a tourist destination attracting those who are willing to eat in its renowned restaurant or to walk along the paths leading to the ancient ruins of its old churches. Opposite the isle you will see different fishermen’s villages and very romantic small harbours, all one after the other. They are the Municipalities of Sala Comacina and Ossuccio, with their wonderful St James Church and St Mary Magdalene Church (Chiesa di San Giacomo and Santa Maria Maddalena). On the hillside stands the Sacred Mountain of Ossuccio (Sacro Monte di Ossuccio), declared Human Heritage by UNESCO. This is a monumental route including 14 Baroque chapels built between 1635 and 1714. After one kilometer, you will reach the Sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin in which you will find the fifteenth Mistery of the Rosary. If you go on, you will reach Lenno. The first things you will see are Villa del Bambinello, one of the most spectacular and renowned villas of the lake, as well as a small Romanesque baptistery dating back to the 11th- century. This octagonal building shows a very special dome with a lantern. Following the same road you will reach Mezzegra and therefore Giulino, the small village where Benito Mussolini and Claretta Petacci were executed. The village coming next is Tremezzo where is the renowned Villa Carlotta, mainly visited for its gardens and the small museum preserving works by Canova, Hayez and Thorvaldsen. Once in Griante-Cadenabbia, get the ferry in order to reach Bellagio, located on the very end of the promontory dividing the Lake Como in two. There you may wish to visit the gardens of
Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni, the Romanesque Basilica of St. James as well as the panoramic Punta Spartivent. From Bellagio you take the ferry again to go back to the western shore of the lake and thus the village of Menaggio, a charming destination attracting hikers as well as those who love trekking. It is worth seeing Villa Vigoni and its huge park full of exotic plants and statues.