Lake Como
Once you’ve been to Lake Como, you will understand why George Clooney and other lakeside residents are fighting to protect this fabulous landscape of steep mountain slopes, charming villages and deep blue waters from overdevelopment. For this tour we combine visits to some of the better-known sites with those that tourists – even Italians – would be hard-pressed to find on their own. Our guides will include two local women, who will take us to their homes in villages nestled above the lake and introduce us to the culture and traditions of Bellagio and Como. We can also include, upon request, a cooking lesson with a local chef and a tour of one of Italy’s up-and-coming wine producing areas, located in a beautiful alpine valley just to the north of the lake.

Day 1

Al Lago!
To the lake! We’ll be met in the city of Como by our guide and driver. He’ll transport our luggage to our lakeside hotel, while we enjoy a stroll through Como’s well-preserved historical center. We’ll end our walk at the boat dock at the edge of the lake to board a boat that will take us on a leisurely cruise up the lake, giving us plenty of time to take in the incredible scenery. When we reach Bellagio, we’ll disembark and continue our walk, exploring this remarkable town at the lake’s center. In the evening, we’ll dine on fresh fish at a local restaurant, prepared by an innovative young chef.

Day 2

Hamlets of Bellagio

Today our guide will be a woman who has dedicated much of her life to studying the culture of the area, collecting artifacts from the past, and documenting the history of the lives of past residents. Bellagio is made up of a number of small villages, some situated along the lake and others built further up on the slopes of 6,000 foot Monte San Primo. We’ll take a delightful walk through the center of Bellagio, and up through several of these outlying hamlets. After a visit to our guide’s cultural museum in one of the more ancient of these villages, we’ll walk back down to the lake for lunch and afterward, stroll through the magnificent Villa Melzi gardens.

Day 3

Panoramic Meadows & Terraced Gardens
Today we’ll walk up to a magnificent scenic overlook, then down through pasture meadows and a tiny village for a splendid lunch on local specialties, including polenta uncia with game. We’ll then explore the terraced and wild gardens of one the most beautiful lakeside villas, the Villa Carlotta, as well as its art treasures. Tonight, we’ll head by boat across the lake for dinner in the quaint village of Varenna.

Day 4

To the artists’ village

On our last day, we’ll visit an Italian poet and painter, who lives in a remote village high above the lake. She’ll show us around, introduce us to some of her artisan friends, and lead us on a beautiful walk through fabled beech trees up to the mountain ridge. The view of the lake from here is spectacular. Lunch will be at a rifugio(mountain shelter) and will feature wonderful homemade specialties, including home-produced goat’s cheese. Afterward, we’ll drive back to Como, where we can shop a little before our departure. We’d be happy to take you to the train station, or to your next hotel, or in any case, help you on your way to your next destination.
Walking Level
2 - hiking boots recommended

Group minimum 6, maximum 12; includes accommodations (4-star hotel with great lake views), all cultural visits, 2 dinners, 1 lunch, transportation, guide and driver costs.

On request, spring & fall recommended

Tour Notes
This tour is recommended from April to July and from September to November.

A recommended addition to this tour for hikers, or those who like robust red wines, would be the Valtellina, a long mountain valley northeast of the lake. We would begin the day with an early morning walk through a dramatic side valley known as the “Little Yosemite” of Italy. In the afternoon we’d take in a tour and wine tasting at a historic local wine producer. In this valley, the Nebbiolo varietal - the same grape which makes Barolo in the Langhe region - has for centuries been used to make excellent wine; sometimes, in fact, wine is made in the style of the Amarone, resulting in a superlative, dry vino da meditazione.

We are happy to help arrange the remainder of your stay, reserving hotels, art guides, and drivers in Milan, Venice or elsewhere you’d like to visit in Italy.