Lago di Como

June 5, 2013

View from the hotel in Bellagio.

The distance between La Spezia and Bellagio is the longest we’ve had to cover when going to the next destination. The shortest path is just under 300km, but a significant chunk of it goes through twisted mountain roads where you cannot go anywhere near the 130km/h that are allowed on the Italian Autostrade. In fact, we were going to omit Autostrade (equivalent to freeways in North America) completely due to smaller roads being more picturesque and us having limited road experience in Italy. With the GPS set to avoid freeways, our route was estimated to take close to 6 hours to complete.

We got out of the city and soon were on twisty mountain roads. They were narrow to begin with, and additionally repairs were in progress in many areas. After about 40 minutes of driving our trip took a 180° turn as we got into a dead end. I’m pretty sure it was the same road we took on the way to La Spezia, but just two days later they decided it needed some major fixing and closed it altogether. I suppose it was a sign that we should head to the freeways after all. After some backtracking we were on the A15 autostrada.

It’s a toll road, and how exactly toll booths work in Italy was something I could not find out easily in advance and was a little worried. I was hoping it wouldn’t be like the 407 in Ontario where by default it just snaps your plates and sends a bill later. Rental agencies have a tendency to charge you an administrative fee of say 30, 50 or however many euros they want for paying off any tickets, fines, or any charges you accrue while using the car. Not to worry, the toll booths made you stop, insert a credit card, and take a ticket before letting you through. You insert the same ticket into a machine when you exit the freeway or when you get into a region where the road is free. It displays the amount it charged you and lets you go. No keepsake receipt provided, unfortunately. It appeared that an option to arrange non-stop travel was available for locals, who would just need to use designated lanes, and (just a guess here) some transponders or registered plates.

Going through the mountains on the Autostrada was actually fun too. Since making it twist and turn to follow the valleys would eliminate any potential speed advantage, the road is actually positioned  above the valleys on numerous thick columns. That’s of course for the areas with low mountains. After a while the peaks became too high to pass, and the road headed into a tunnel, just like the trains at Cinque Terre.

After finally getting to Bellagio and finding a parking spot for the car (free, but not easy), it was time to take in the scenery. Scenery is something Como is famous for, so without further ado, here goes.

Bellagio in infrared

Lakeshore boulevard. Infrared.

View from a ferry. One of the best ways to see Lake Como is from the water.

View from the hotel. Could stay and look at it all day.

Boats of all kinds are a frequent sight on the lake, especially with the hotel being steps away from the docks.

Very typical Italian architecture.

The clear air still casts a smoky blue tint over the faraway mountains.

Aside from large ferries, the waters are also full of the smaller private yachts and sail ships.

The mountains around the lake are high enough to inspire, but low enough to still get covered in greenery by early June.

Hotel view. It was the most expensive hotel of the entire trip, but the view was to die for. So was the morning coffee, which was made to order and served in a fancy tall glass.

The interlocking coastline allows the shores of different sides to overlay each other and have layers and layers of mountains in the distance, dimmed by the faint haze in the air.

Rooftop view in infrared.

View from a ferry.

A majestic looking evergreen in infrared.

Bellagio in infrared.

The streets of Bellagio are busy, but from water everything seems quiet.

Colico, near the north tip of the lake.

Even through it’s Northern Italy, the evergreens are beautifully complemented by tropical palm trees.

The port of Bellagio.

View of the town and lake from the hotel balcony.

A church in Como, the city.

Birds enjoying the last rays at sunset.

And each little part of the shore is lined with towns.

Some mountains are a smooth rolling green, others expose their rocky interior through vertical cliffs.

Water is the place to be.

At the northern tip of the lake you start seeing the snow covered Alps, but down by the water, it’s summer time fun.

It seemed the further north we went, the more small craft and sails we saw in the water.

No Italian town is complete without a church.

The intense midday light makes both the water and the mountains look brilliant blue.

The place has a very consistent evergreen vegetation and colourful buildings.

Room with a view.


Under the dense green cover hides the dining area where a buffet breakfast is served with a personally prepared coffee. Thankfully it did not rain at all during our 3 day stay.


Lake Como layers: mountains, trees, and rooftops.

And of course, the church tower.

The last rays of sun before it hides behind the mountain.

Lake Como at night.

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