Como

Como is a city at the southern end of Lake Como in Lombardy, Northwest Italy. It has a population of 80,000. The border with Switzerland is at the northwestern end of the city.

Understand

Como has always been an area of intense activity, as it has been a crossing point between Central Europe and the Mediterranean over the centuries. Built by the Romans at the end of the Piedmont road, it was an important communication point between Rome and its northern territories. In more recent times Como became famed for its silk.

Como was the birthplace of the Roman scientists Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, as well as Alessandro Volta, 18th-century inventor of the battery and the man who gave his name to the unit of electrical force – the volt.

Get in

By car

The E35 motorway (toll is 1.60 for the A9 stretch, 1.10 for the A4 section, about 1.50 for the E35 section west of Milan) runs past Como from Milan, and goes on to Switzerland. There are many exits to Como; avoid Como South, choose the next ones (signed Como Nord and Monte Olimpino) for the city, and the last exit (signed ultima uscita per l'Italia) before Switzerland for Cernobbio, Bellagio and towns on the western lake shore.

By train

The Servizio Ferroviario Regionale connects Como by train to other major cities in Lombardy (R lines). Services are provided by Trenitalia (a.k.a. Ferrovie dello Stato: FS ) and Trenord through two main stations: Como S. Giovanni (Trenitalia) and Como Lago (Trenord). There is another urban station served by Trenitalia (Albate) and three more urban stations served by Trenord (Como Borghi-Università, Como Camerlata and Grandate Breccia). A trip to Milan costs €3.60. From 2008 Como will also be connected to Milan with the line S9 of the Servizio Ferroviario Suburbano (S).

By plane

The nearest airports are:

Get around

Many small towns and villages surround Lake Como and it is recommended that you try to explore as many as you can whilst in the Lake Como area. It is recommend that you spend the mornings on the west side with the afternoons on the east side of the lake, that way you will always stay in the sun.

If you are travelling by car please be careful as some of the roads are very narrow. In addition you will find that most of the smaller villages have limited parking.

We would advise using public transport. The bus service is very regular and it gives you a stress free tour without negotiating any of the winding narrow roads. The centre of Como is rather compact and can be covered easily on foot.

The local public transport network comprises several lines. Some are mostly within city limits (Urbani) and some are Extraurbani (crossing city limits). (C) lines connect Como with most of the provincial centres. They are provided by ASF Autolinee .

By bus

Urban Lines()
Line 1: Chiasso FS - S.Fermo
Line 3: Lora - Grandate
Line 4: S.Giovanni FS - Camnago Volta
Line 5: S.Giovanni FS - Civiglio
Line 6: Maslianico - Albate
Line 7: Sagnino - Lora
Line 8: S.Giovanni FS - Casnate
Line 9: P.za Cavour - Cimitero
Line 10: Albate - Navedano
Line 11: P.Chiasso - Bassone timetable
Line 12: Camerlata-S.Fermo-Tavernola

Buying a ticket before boarding is better and cheaper. You can buy them at newsstands, some bars and all Tabacchi. An urban ticket for 75 minutes costs €1.10. You can also buy on board but the ticket then costs €2.00. The complete ticket fares can be found online at .

Tickets vary depending on the start and destination stops:

Tariffa U tickets also have the text "Valido 75'", which means it is valid for 75 minutes from when it was validated (you do this in a machine on board the bus).

Wait until the bus is about to depart before validating in order to maximise your use. You can exit the bus at one stop and get on another bus within the Como urban area with the same ticket, as long as you leave the last bus before the 75 minutes expire. The driver will likely want to see your ticket when you get on, and spot checks are sometimes done by uniformed officials. For example you can travel 20 minutes, get off, look around for 30 minutes and return on the same ticket (if the bus arrives on time).

The Tariffa B tickets with black text are usually validated by the driver tearing off the top and bottom sections. Inspectors may further validate it by punching it with a quarter circle hole - the ticket already has a circular hole in it.

The Tariffa B tickets with red text will have a list of towns, starting with Como. When you purchase it you say which town and the seller will punch a hole in that town (or have some already punched). This makes the ticket valid only for journeys between Como and the punched town, or vice versa.

Como buses do not have route plans on board, and the driver does not announce stops (you could ask nicely though). Follow the route with a map to be sure.


Ferrovie Nord Milano also provides other bus lines connecting Como to Varese in substitution of the original railway line that was dismissed in the 1960s.

By funicular

By boat

By taxi

A taxi service is provided by the Comune di Como, local phone numbers are 031-2772, and 031-261515.

See

Ceiling of Villa Olmo

Do

The valleys surrounding Lake Como are some of the most beautiful areas in the Prealps, rich in vegetation and populated by numerous animal species. It is a homogeneous area from which many excursions start along old military roads and trails towards mountain pastures and refuges. The Grigna, Resegone and Legnone are important mountain ranges, but San Primo and the Pizzo di Gino, which encircle the lake, become especially atmospheric and unforgettable during long Summer sunsets and in the warm Autumn light that encircles their contours, in Winter whiteness and in the Spring freshness. The mountains and valleys include the whole local area around the lake, with hills and mountain ranges that rise from the plain and enclose countryside and villages, reliefs and woods: Valsassina, Valvarrone, Valle San Martino and Val d’Esino, Val d’Intelvi, Val Menaggio, Val Cavargna, Val Solda and the valleys of the Upper Western Lario. Lake Como’s mountain ranges offer endless opportunities for excursions and trekking.

Perhaps it's worth to have a look at the regional site for the local news and events in the area.

Buy

The lakeside villages are more limited with regard to clothes shopping but they do have some designer shops and shoes shops are plentiful. You will also find lots of shops with handmade crafts etc. and there are great for gourmet food, wine and olive oil. Menaggio and Bellagio are probably the best for shopping.

However, there are a couple of large undercover shopping centres. ‘Foxtown’ is a large discounted designer outlet just over the border in Switzerland and takes approximately 20 minutes to get there from Como. There is also the ‘Iperal’ shopping centre, located at the northern tip of the lake near Colico. This has an amazing supermarket as well as many other shops, sports, shoes, clothes, make-up, electrical store etc. Como has a few outlets, one of which is Bennett, located at the roundabout where the road is sign-posted to Menaggio which takes you up the westside of the lake. This is not as large as the Iperal near Colico, but it still has a good sized supermarket. On the first level you will find the Bennett supermarket along with a Geox shoe shop, Swatch shop, cafes and a few clothes shops.

Petrol is considerably cheaper in nearby Switzerland, while Diesel is about the same price, (in 2004) so remember to top-up the car in the cheapest place.

Keep the receipt of anything purchased in Switzerland as the Italian customs may ask to see it, and if a large value item, you will need to pay the difference in the two Value Added Tax rates (approximately 13 percent). As of 2004 there is a limit of 12,500 Euros equivalent that may be brought into Italy at any one time.

Eat

You will be spoiled for choice when eating out on Lake Como. From small pizzerias to top-end expensive restaurants, you can be sure to find a place that suits your budget and taste. Fish predominates in the restaurants on Lake Como, as you might expect. You will also find polenta – a golden-yellow Italian cornmeal made from ground maize. Meat dishes are also on the menus; often pork, beef, chicken, rabbit or venison.

Most places to eat are open daily. Some close one day a week, but this varies. Times may be susceptible to change depending on the season.

Prices can range from €5 for a good pizza, to €25 for a three course meal in a restaurant, to a top-notch restaurant where the price can escalate to over €50 per person; it depends on whether you are eating somewhere with good food but without all the frills!

Some places reachable by foot from the central area and frequented by the locals are the following.

Drink

There's a multitude of bars and cafes along the shoreline of Lake Como. If you want to get away from the busy tourist spots, you can find quaint little bars hidden away up the many narrow streets or you can retreat further into the village. You normally pay for your drink at the till first, and then present your receipt to the bar staff and they prepare your drink. In many of the bars/cafès you are charged extra if you want to sit down with your coffee rather than stand at the counter.

In summer most people go sunbaking on the lake shore and then meet in town during aperitivo, which means buffet food for every drink purchased in a bar: depending on the owner it could be chips, pasta, pizza, fruit salad and skewers.

If you are just thirsty and looking for water, in the walled town and nearby areas there are drinking fountains just round every corner. The water is lightly chlorinated and thus safe to drink, but decent to good tasting. The one in Piazza Cavour (on the far side from the lake) is called "Drago Verde" (Green Dragon) because of its decorative shape.

Sleep

Connect

There are two good wi-fi spots: the Como bar on Volta street (eight minute walk southeast from the water taxi) and the sushi bar on Bergovico street (well hidden, but worth it, it is about a fifteen minute walk south from the water taxi).

Good internet connection is at the hotel Barchelleta Excelsior.

Go next

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