Lake Como's water-edge wonders
From Cernobbio to Bellagio, where even the roads have been given the name of royals
Surrounded by mountains and skirted by what seems to be an unending chain of medieval churches, opulent villas and magnificent gardens, Lake Como offers visitors some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of Italy.
Medieval towns and movie stars
The town of Cernobbio is often the first stop visitors make, as they travel along the lakeside "Strada Regina" road. It was here, in the beautiful Villa Erba that the famous film director, Luchino Visconti, was brought up.
Cernobbio is a popular lakeside celebrity hang out, where stars of both the large and small screen , can often be seen, in the stylish Piazza Rinascimento.
Montrasio is a maze of little lanes, in which the 11th century Romanesque church of Sant' Agata takes pride of place. Set in a lovely terrace garden, next to the church, the 18th century Villa Passalacqua merits a photo or two.
There is a particularly glorious view of the lake from Laglio, where George Clooney has recently set up home
Say your prayers
At the foot of the San Bernado and Briante mountains, the medieval town of Brienno is home to the 11th century Church of San Vittore, which sports a typical medieval 'comacino', or bell tower.
In the oratory of the Church of Saints Nazaro and Celso, groups of visitors regularly gather to admire the 16th century polyptic by Andrea de Passeris.
Using the Pigra cable car, you'll quickly reach the 16th century San Rocco oratory and some of the most breathtaking views you're ever likely to see
A few kilometers after rejoining the Strada Regina, you come to Sala Comacina and its 15th century church, San Bartolomeo. Across the lake, on the island of Comacina'' the ruins of the Church of Sant'Eufemia''' can be seen.
Make your way to the miraculous mountain
Your next stop is Ossuccio where the Church of Saints Giacomo and Filippo was constructed, on foundations sunk into the bed of the lake, in the 11th century. Like the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, the building has a lovely campanile.
From Ossuccio, make your away up the mountain to visit the Sacro Monte, a complex of 14 chapels.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso houses a statue of the Madonna and Child, which is reputed to have the power to work miracles
Lenno is the first town in Tremezzia. The Italian Environment foundation (FAI) own the 18th century Villa del Balbianello here. This, and the Church of Santo Stefano and the Baptistery are all worth seeing. The bustling lakeside town of Tremezzina is your next stop. Sculptures by Antonio Canova can be found in the 18th century Villa Carlotta, built in homage to Carlotta of Prussia.
Take the boat to Bellagio!
The little thoroughfares and the churches of San Carlo and Santo Stefano make a visit to Menaggio enchanting. From here you can take the ferry to Bellagio - famous for its luxury hotels, sophisticated shops, the magnificent San Giacomo Church and the Rockefeller Foundation, this latter housed within the walls of Villa Serbelloni.
Both Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi have beautiful parks. Gorgeous grounds, which are also open to the public, surround the splendid Villa Monastero in Varenna.