Como, in the northern reaches of the Italian Lombardy region, continues to lure visitors to its charming streets and, of course, the famed banks of the lake around which it was established no matter what time of year.
Long associated with celebrities and the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” (all the way back to the Roman aristocrats!), but even for the more down-to-earth travellers, this beautiful region has a wealth of historical and cultural substance that goes beyond its luxury reputation.
3 Cultural Highlights of Como
If you like the idea of enjoying a touch of opulence set against genuinely breathtaking scenery, topped off with a trove of historical, architectural and cultural highlights, then Como could be your next favourite holiday destination.
Here are just three of the many highlights not to miss if you’d like to scratch below the surface and learn a little more about the region’s history.
The Basilica di Sant’Abbondio
Take a gentle stroll outside the walls, away from the city centre along Via Regina, to the Basilica di Sant’Abbondio, which is a wonderful example of a building in the unique Lombard Romanesque style. The basilica dates back to the eleventh century, and its construction has a very interesting history, as the work of the local stoneworkers known as the Maestri Comacini, who became renowned throughout medieval Europe for their intricate masonry.
Its impressively preserved exterior features two bell towers and magnificent carved detail on the choir windows, while inside there are some Gothic frescoes that were added in the thirteenth century. If you want to see (and learn) more about the basilica, the Museo Civico houses some large sections of the exterior stone carvings, where they were taken in order to ensure their preservation.
The Duomo (Santa Maria Assunta)
Situated in Piazza Duomo, in the city centre, this fourteenth-century cathedral cuts an imposing figure – fittingly, as it is considered to be one of the most important religious buildings in the country, and the finest example of “transition” architecture, as Italy moved from the Gothic to Renaissance style. Constructed under the eye of architect Loreno degli Spazzi, the striking exteriors are decorated with marble and stone carvings, with a beautiful rose window front and centre of the facade. There are also carved statues of two notable local figures, Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger.
Inside, the walls are adorned with a collection of paintings by Luini and Ferrari, along with various tapestries that were added in the sixteenth century. The stunning central dome, which marked the completion of construction in 1770, was designed by Filippo Juvarra. For those with even a passing interest in architecture, the Duomo is quite fascinating, with its blend of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance features.
Ahh, you simply can’t come to Como and not visit Bellagio! While it’s definitely known for its glamour and luxury, this picturesque town is also steeped in history, so there’s no need for even a slightly guilty conscience! The most spectacular way to arrive into Bellagio is on a boat trip, which will give you a wonderful orientation of the entire lake and the towns and villages built around its banks. You can choose a fast trip (around 45 minutes) or a more leisurely cruise, taking anything up to three hours. While the journey to get there is, in itself, a huge part of the experience, once you arrive in Bellagio you’ll be instantly charmed.
As you stroll the narrow streets, traverse steep cobbled steps, and wander through the labyrinthine network of alleys and lanes, you’ll encounter countless tucked away cafes, restaurants and shops. It’s so lovely, it almost feels like a too-good-to-be-true film set. (Tip: keep an eye out for Salita Serbelloni and Salita Mella, two of the most picturesque and romantic alleys – perfect for a photo opportunity.)
Along with the chance to pick up local crafts, leather goods, perfume and fashion, assuage your historical bent with a visit to the town’s Romanesque Basilica di San Giacomo, which dates back to the eleventh century and is home to some beautiful mosaics and a magnificent altar from the 1500s.
Where to Stay
Al Molo 5, Lake Front: Occupying a coveted location right on the lake, this high-quality accommodation offers stunning views and a refined ambience. Featuring luxury rooms with traditional Italian touches, you can opt for one with a balcony to take in the views at your fingertips. With an onsite restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and a delicious breakfast, it’s the ideal base to explore and relax.
Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como: This stunning, world-class hotel has everything you’d expect for a 5-star luxury stay on the banks of Lake Como. Featuring elegantly-appointed rooms, an onsite spa and wellness centre, two restaurants, two swimming pools, and delightful common areas to relax and take in the water views, you’ll never want to leave.
Passalacqua: In a beautiful natural setting tucked into the hillside overlooking the lake, this 5-star accommodation delivers ambience, sophistication and high-quality facilities in abundance. Offering opulent rooms, a swimming pool, fitness centre, spa centre, terrace, restaurant, and gorgeous, tranquil gardens, you’ll enjoy the epitome of luxury relaxation.
How to Get There
The most convenient way to get to Como for your luxury break by the lake is to fly into Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP). From the UK the flight will take just over two hours, with a good range of carriers, including British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair and Wizz, offering flights from numerous UK cities.
Once you land, the best option to get you quickly and painlessly to your accommodation in Como is on a pre-booked Milan Airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. A friendly local driver will be there to meet you and take you the rest of the way, with no hassles of waiting in taxi queues or scrambling for public transport.
UK to MXP Flight Time: 2 hours 8 minutes
MXP to Como Distance: 51 kilometres
Transfer with Shuttle Direct: 39 minutes
Types of Transfer
There are plenty of options to get from Milan Airport to Como, depending on your requirements and priorities. But, whatever way you like to travel, and no matter what your budget, Shuttle Direct has a solution for you.
One of the most convenient and hassle-free ways to get to your accommodation from the airport at Milan to Como without delay is via a pre-booked airport taxi. Because it’s organised beforehand, there’s no delays or waiting around for a vacant car – your driver will meet you and whisk you to Como in around 40 minutes.
If you don’t mind sharing with other passengers on the way from Milan Airport to Como, and you prefer to save your budget for more cultural things, a shared shuttle bus is a great option. You’ll travel in a comfortable and reliable vehicle with a friendly, professional driver, and the cost is considerably cheaper than a private transfer as it’s shared across all passengers. It’s also a great way to meet other people.
If you like to start your holiday the way you mean to go on – in style and luxury – then a private Milan Airport transfer will suit you perfectly. Your driver will meet you from your flight inside the terminal, and you’ll be driven in comfort in a high-class vehicle right to the door of your accommodation.
When travelling with a family or large group of friends, a minibus transfer is the ideal way to get from Milan Airport to Como. The benefit is you’ll all be able to travel in the same vehicle, and there’s no problem with space for large amounts of luggage. It’s also a very cost-effective way of getting to your accommodation without delays.
Choosing the Right Transfer
Choosing the best airport transfer comes down to personal preference – which is usually governed by two factors: cost and convenience. You are the only one who can ultimately make that decision.
Cost: If you’re on a budget, or just want to conserve funds for other aspects of your holiday, a shared transfer is an ideal way of saving money. A shared shuttle is safe, comfortable and still very convenient.
Convenience: If comfort and luxury are your main priorities, however, and you’re happy to pay a bit more, then opting for a private transfer service or pre-booked taxi is the way to get from Milan Airport to Como.
About Shuttle Direct
Here at Shuttle Direct we’re renowned for our excellent service and extensive range of convenient, affordable airport transfers to and from destinations all over the world. No matter what your budget, or how you like to travel, we’ve got a service to suit you. From a luxury private transfer to a cost-effective shared shuttle or minibus, we’ve got you covered.