I was going to Como primarily for the same reason as everyone else goes there – as a stopping off place for Lake Como, but the town itself (or at least in the environs of the harbour) is a very attractive, bustling small town. It also has 2 cathedrals which seems a bit excessive for a place that size, even in Italy, but worth are worth looking at. The old one (technically not a cathedral since the second one was built) is twelth century and very striking despite its subsequent restoration not having been very successful. The eighteenth century cathedral that superseded it is really lovely from the outside, not just in itself, but also in managing to enhance the town centre without dominating it.
Out on to the lake, which from the outset is impressive. Perhaps it has a little too many houses built around it for the view to be entirely unspoiled, but the houses are picturesque enough. The lake is surrounded by heavily wooded hills, which contrast nicely with the deep blues of the lake. At the Como end of the lake, that’s really all there is and though you can’t go far wrong with a lake/hills/trees combination is a little monotonous. Further north, however, there are some more rugged cliffs, some snow capped peaks in the distance and a couple of picture postcard islands. It’s beautiful.
I stopped at Belagio, which has a front devoted entirely to tourism, restaurants, souvenir shops and hotels but its not overpowering and the view of the lake is always an escape. Behing the front is an absolutely gorgeous series of back lanes covered with flowers and a pervading aroma of honeysuckle. I don’t think it is in any way authentic but it was very nice. Then back on the boat to Como, train to Milan. In a trip where I’ve seen a lot of man made beauty, it was great to just sit back for a day amid nature’s handiwork.