Lake Iseo – our previous destination – and the beautiful wedding our friends had was a hard act to follow, but I think where we are in this Weekly Edition is a pretty good follow-up.
We’re still amongst the Italian lakes and have finally come back to Lake Como. It’s been five long years since we were last here but it’s better than we remembered. We’re staying on the western shores of Como, at Tremezzo, in a hotel that epitomises Italian glamour and looks like it’s from a set of a Wes Anderson movie.
After Lake Como, we head to Switzerland (just) to Lake Lugano, which straddles the Italian and Swiss borders. The views from this lake are pretty special too, so I hope you’re ready for a travel bug bite!
We hope you enjoy this Weekly Edition.
Jim & Christina xx
We’ve been invited to stay at the stunning Grand Hotel Tremezzo and we do not hesitate in saying YES. We’ve been dreaming of this hotel since featuring it in our top hotel pools and we’re finally here.
There are actually three pools at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo – the floating pool on Lake Como, the Flower Pool, hidden in the landscaped gardens behind the hotel, and an infinity pool that’s partially indoors as part of their spa that looks out over the lake and the mountains beyond.
We’re staying in a lake view room on the second floor and have a full review to come, but in this Weekly Edition we want to share just a few moments from our stay.
When we travel, I always like to get up to photograph the sunrise. It’s so peaceful and quiet on the lake, the ferries are just beginning and the hotel is just waking up. From bed, Jim has snapped this pic of me and I always want to remember this feeling – messy hair, camera in hand, breathing in a new day.
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo offers a turn-down service and it’s these little touches that make this hotel so special. It has all the charm from when it was first opened in 1910, mixed with the modern conveniences we need as 21st century travellers. We’ve loved our stay here and are already planning a return trip.
Breakfast is a leisurely affair here, and once you’re seated on the terrace with a coffee, you don’t really want to leave.
I have to have a crepe made fresh by the chef, though I’m also tempted by the tables of pastries. Cannoli for breakfast? Yes please! (Can you tell I have a bit of a sugar addiction?)
Jim’s all about the cheese table and he’s going back for seconds of the smoked swordfish carpaccio. The breakfast buffet is out of control here.
As good hotel reviewers, we feel obliged to test out every part of the hotel (it’s a tough life!) so next headed to “The Beach” – the sandy beach bar and pool on Lake Como itself.
We can attest that the sun-loungers are incredible comfortable. It’s very difficult to tear ourselves away from here. The views from the pool are spectacular and it turns into a mini wave pool when the hydrofoil zooms by, rocking the whole pool, which is literally floating on the lake.
Only one man could pull us away from testing out all the pools at the hotel, and that’s our captain, Vito.
He’s waiting to take us on a tour of Lake Como aboard the beautiful Ruy. Ruy was built in 1961 in Venice and lovingly restored by the family who own the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Guests can book the boats for tours and transfers, and we can’t recommend this enough.
So much of Lake Como is best seen from the water, such as Villa del Balbionella, which you might recognise from such films as Casino Royale and Star Wars.
You can drive around the lake, but the perspective from the water is amazing. This boat tour needs its own post to really show off the beauty of the villas and the scenery here. Keep an eye out for a video coming soon…
You can tell from Jim’s face that he is hating it. I’m in a dream as well. I heard that a local said: “when an Italian gets to heaven, he’ll be disappointed.” When it comes to days like this on Lake Como, I can see his point.
After coming back down to earth, we head across the lake to see how Varenna has changed since our last visit. We can happily share it is the same! This sweet little town on the eastern shore of Lake Como is an easy train trip from Milan and has one of the best gelato shops.
It’s nothing to look at from the outside, but you can take a seat on the stairs next door and eat some divine gelati. We can recommend the dark chocolate with ginger – I know, we weren’t sure about this either until we tasted it, but it was incredible. The dark chocolate was rich and the perfect mix of sweet and bitter, while the ginger added a delicious hint of heat and spice.
Jim’s showing you exactly where to sit to enjoy gelato in Varenna!
We wander the tiny alleys and stairways of this lakeside town until dinner and catch the ferry back over to Tremezzo. This part of Lake Como is perfect for day trips, though I could spend days in the Grand Hotel Tremezzo without having to leave.
Between Tremezzo and Varenna you’ll find Bellagio, the pearl of Lake Como.
This beautiful town can feel full quickly with day-trippers but as the sun sets, it’s a gorgeous spot to wander. Crowds die down and the town becomes peaceful once again.
Two streets over from here, we find a perfect aperitivo spot at bstyle food & wine. It’s down a tiny stairway with tables for two built into the walls outside. They’re focused on food and wine that’s all locally sourced. Their cheese and meat platter is superb. And they make a great negroni too.
And before we know it, our time in Como is coming to an end. What a whirlwind trip it has been and we have loved every moment.
Though it’s not goodbye, as we promise we will be back on our next spin in Italy.
So with only two days left before we fly back to England, we make a last minute decision to tick off a new country for Jim: Switzerland!
Did you know it’s less than an hour’s drive to Switzerland from Como? For an Australian, this still blows my mind. I’m used to driving 6 hours and still being in the same state!
We start the steep drive through the hills across to Lugano. I count the hairpin turns as we navigate across the border and catch a glimpse of Lake Lugano.
This part of Switzerland is really quite Italian, and Lake Lugano sits right across the border with Italy.
Lake Lugano is famed for its emerald waters we can see why.
Around the shoreline in Lugano is a lovely tree-lined promenade. We’re not sure if the Swiss also have a “passegiata” tradition like the Italians, but this area is perfect for it.
Passegiata a lovely tradition – something I wish more countries would take on. Just after sunset, especially in the southern regions of Italy, local families come out to stroll the streets of their town. They grab a bite to eat, catch up with friends and chat.
We consider hopping on the ferry to explore the lake but we know we have more time to do that later. Instead we head into the archways of Via Nassa and the Quartiere Maghetti in search of lunch.
How could we walk past this deli? Gabbani is a bit of an institution with it’s fresh food stores, restaurant and hotel in the city centre.
It’s hard when you’re married to a photographer, and Jim is waiting patiently while I’m enjoying the street photography scene in Lugano.
Don’t worry, I didn’t make him wait too long before we take a seat at Gabbani for lunch.
Jim’s lunch isn’t the most photogenic but it’s the most delicious. From memory it’s a potato soup with caramelised calamari, and it’s incredible.
The addition of fresh cacioricotta cheese is why I have to order this pasta. Perfectly cooked and with a rich, luxurious ragu. Yum!
Jim is having the best time driving around here. I love playing navigator and finding a new way for us to go. It was pretty tight around here, but the views were worth it.
We’re glad we have another day to explore this gorgeous part of Europe and after a quick google search, I see we’re close to Morcote. It was crowned Switzerland’s prettiest village in 2016 and they weren’t wrong.
South of Lugano, Morcote is a stunning little town. On top of the village you’ll find the church of Santa Maria del Sasso and there are stunning views over the lake.
Around the edge of the lake are dotted cute little cafes and restaurants. We’re also here at the same time as a classic car rally comes through the town which is so fun to see.
Wandering the tiny back lanes of Morcote, I hear this cute cat call out to me and pop his head out of the window. He’s very cute but as I pat him he starts to roll over and I thought he was going to fall out of the window!
I have to use my arm to keep him on the ledge and I’m not sure how I’m going to get away. But luckily Jim’s caught this shot and eventually the cat moves so we can keep exploring.
We end up at this stylishly overgrown garden terrace – La Terrazza sul Lago – for lunch of whitebait, caprese salad and fresh gnocchi. Highly recommended.
So that’s a brief update (I tried!) of our time in Lake Como and Lake Lugano, and I’ve only just scratched the surface.
We’ll have travel guides, reviews and more coming soon.
If you’re looking for a romantic destination, this should be top of your list.
Thanks for making it this far down in my mega version of our Weekly Edition. See you next week.