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Italy, Lake Como from above
Lake Como in the Lombardy regionis a stunning natural wonder that has been the haunt of poets, aristocrats, and celebrities for over 2000 years. At first glance, it seems too fantastic to be true. But as you’ll quickly discover on your Lake Como vacation, everything about this amazing destination seems as though it were lifted directly from a dream. Besides the nearly unspoiled natural beauty of the lake and surrounding woodlands and mountains, Lake Como boasts some of the most stunning architectural structures in Italy. The beautiful villas, incredible gardens, and ancient castles that line its shores only add to the fairytale-like atmosphere of the place, and will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into your own, personal wonderland
It’s easy to understand why most visitors choose to stay directly on the shores of the water on their Lake Como vacation. The numerous villas, hotels and luxury resorts on the edge of the lake combine fantastic accommodations with stunning views. Como is also a popular tourist destination. Only a few minutes away from the lake itself, this ancient city is a hub of cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy a cappuccino, gelato or nice dish of polenta in the sunshine. It is also brimming with historic buildings and monuments, as well as museums, gardens and churches.
Misleading though it may seem, the majority of your Lake Como vacation will not be spent on the lake itself. Although it’s stunning cerulean waters present the perfect opportunity for swimming, sunbathing, boating, or even windsurfing, Lake Como ‘s most exciting attractions lie along its shores.
The best way to appreciate the area’s natural beauty is to simply stroll around on one of the many paths and trails that circle the water. Percy Shelley once wrote “this lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty,” and you’ll understand why when you explore the surrounding woods, olive groves and gardens with the majestic Alps rising in the background.
It’s no wonder the rich and famous have been coming here to vacation for over two thousand years. Their beautiful villas which dot the shoreline are artistic and cultural gems in themselves, and only add to the natural beauty. Villa Carlotta, which dates from the late 17th century, features some stunning Italian gardens overlooking the lake, replete with fountains and beautiful sculptures by Luigi Acquisti. Villa Melzi d’Eril, although slightly younger, is even more elaborate. The English-style gardens of this villa are full of rare, exotic plants as well as the enormous rhododendrons the area surrounding the lake is so famous for. Besides the English gardens, you can visit the Moorish kiosk perched on the edge of the water, the water-lily pool in the middle of the Japanese garden, and the small museum housed in the former orangerie.
To venture even further back in history, visit the mysterious Castello di Vezio on its commanding hilltop overlooking the lake. Today this medieval structure is home to various birds of prey trained by a local falconer, who put on exhibitions throughout the year. For a meditative retreat where you can completely immerse yourself in the past, venture up the winding path between the olive groves and woodlands that leads to Sacro Monte di Ossuccio, the 17th century chapel complex located atop a crag over the water.
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