Lake Como is shaped like a tall armless runner, striding out across the foothills of the Alps. The ordinary village of Domeso lies on the west bank near the top of the body of the lake. To reach it requires a drive up the west bank of the left leg.
The differences with Lake Maggiore are quite striking. Como is narrower. The cotton wool clumps of bulging woods still close down along the water in the same way, but they reach up way higher giving way to proper, rocked mountains behind, like the teeth of lines of saws backed with layers upon layers of rising peaks and ridges.
Settlements do not really spread up into the foothills so much but wedge themselves against the lake, presenting the broad face of a triangle to the water and running away up narrowing, high valleys between folding layers of land.
Driving alongside the lake is just beautiful, looking across calm waters dotted with the wakes of criss crossing ferries or private launches to distanced villages clinging tightly onto the edge. The road narrows to a single shaded passage between high rendered facades as it passes through old villages which open to reveal a centre of restaurants and bars around a simple harbour before entering yet another spread of uninspiring suburban landscape. The original road follows every promontory and bay between villages but progress has come to the aid of the weary traveller by cutting through the sticky-out-bits in dark, badly lit tunnels filled with the trapped fumes of exhausting traffic. It takes time off the journey but adds nothing to the quality of the journey.
The more opulent resorts with their majestic hotels, grand palaces & galleries, with their mahogany launches & fine-dining restaurants and their uniformed staff and status Ferrari’s, tend to be situated at the southern end of the lake within easy access of the Milanese wealthy.
Tremezzo is a strip of classy real estate near the groin area of our figure.
Menaggio is a bustling resort a few villages up. Bustling but still calm, genteel & sophisticated.
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Exploring the lakeside, whether it’s the classy spots or the more mundane, suburban sprawl around the old fishing settlements, is best done on the ferries or by bus – the C10 route. The advantage with a car is you can stop in any village or roadside hotel/bar/restaurant you want, the disadvantage is the gamble you take with finding a parking space.