Italy

Visiting Como: things to see and do

With an unhealthy obsession for beautiful scenery akin to kittens and catnip, I scribbled Como down on my “pretty things to take pictures of in Italy” hit-list with nothing more on my mind than big hills and a lake to feed my camera. It was only when I arrived in Como that I realised it had so much more to offer.

  • Published on 5th February 2017
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Being lakeside in northern Como is seemingly the ideal spot for explorers wanting to indulge in a large platter of all things Italiano. Not only that, but it’s also ideal for visitors who are unfamiliar with a cardiovascular workout, as a lot of Como’s historical, recreational, dining and scenic offerings are neatly packed together in a roughly 200 metre-wide area. Phew!

So what exactly is up for discovery in this jam-packed area? Here’s what I found.

Tempio Voltiano

Situated on the south bank of Lake Como and serving as one of Como’s most visited museums, the exquisite Tempio Voltiano is the historical treasure chest at the end of a stunning garden walk.

The exquisite Tempio Voltiano, circled by shrubbery beneath a summer sky.

The temple was constructed in 1927 to commemorate Italian physicist and Como-born Alessandro Volta, who invented in the electrical battery. The museum’s overall architecture and attention to detail is captivating, with the surrounding arrangement of shrubbery adding a touch of class and elegance to the already wondrous piece of Italian history.

The Tempio Voltiano Gardens

The aforementioned garden walk creates a magical escape to nature before arriving at the Tempio Voltiano museum.

Standing between the paralle walkways with Tempio Voltiano ahead.

Leading from the nearby main road and up to the Temple are two parallel walkways, extensive and linear. Both paths are shielded either side by awash of trees of many warm, summer tones, and an uninterrupted view of the Temple between the two pathways acts as the light at the end of the tunnel.

Accompanying children who may not be as captivated by the beautiful surroundings can rejoice, as during the summer times a small fairground can be found on the western side of the parallel walkways.

Monumento ai Cadut

Resting along the same bank as the Tempio Voltiano, and just a few minutes walk separating them, lies Como’s cemented silent prayer to the hundreds of soldiers born in the city who later gave their lives in The Great War.

The Monumento ai Cadut, paying eternal respect to Como's fallen soldiers.

Completed in 1933, the striking 30ft war memorial can be seen from great distances and serves as one of Como’s most attractive pieces of history.  

Life Electric and the Diga Foranea Pier

Italy is bursting at the seams with architecture spanning centuries, but there are also contemporary sights to be seen. Life Electric, a stainless steel sculpture once again in dedication to Alessandro Volta, was constructed from 2014 to 2015 and is situated on the Diga Foranea Pier at the southern end of Lake Como.

Life Electric on the Diga Foranea Pier, with wonderful views of Como in the background.

The sculpture is a delightful symbol of modern Italian construction with a chunky amount of history behind its creation to boot. If modern architecture isn’t really your thing though, the end of the pier where the sculpture lies has an ace up its sleeve.

Just a small taste of Como on-show from the Diga Foranea Pier.

Sitting over the water 300 metres from shore, the pier serves up a terrific 360° view of Como and all its stunning scenery, a unique perspective otherwise unavailable elsewhere in Como.

Ristorante Stilo

Working up a huge appetite having drenched yourself in copious amounts of Como culture along the south bank is fairly likely. Thankfully, you can never wander too far without the whiff of pizza in the air.

Heading east from the gardens along the main road rests a traditional lunchtime outdoor restaurant simply named Ristorante Stilo. A reasonably priced platter of seafood dishes, pasta, calzones and, of course, pizzas, were on the menu.

My ham, tomato and mozzarella calzone, shaped like a fish. Because why not?

I ordered a ham, tomato and mozzarella calzone. While it resolved the rumbly tummy situation, I cannot say, in all honesty, that it satisfied my desire to indulge in something heartily Italian. I felt that Como had a lot more to offer with quintessential Italian dining. It was saturated with water from the tomatoes and ham, and lacked authentic taste (or any taste at all, sadly). It was shaped like a fish though, which was fun.

The Brunate Funicular

Como is undeniably beautiful on the ground, but witnessing it from the clouds is the topping on the pizza (which seems more appropriate than the icing on the cake). The Brunate Funicular hillside cable car has the answer, offering swift transportation to the skies of Como to thousands of tourists every summer.

Departing from the eastern side of Lake Como and rising up to the mountain-top village of Brunate, visitors can board the funicular for just 7 euros (for return) and arrive at what is possibly the best view of Como in mere minutes.

The stunning views of Como to die for, available from Brunate under gorgeous summer skies. 

At 350 ft high, the assembly of Como, including its provinces, Lake Como, the wondrous mountainous terrain in the background and more, is nothing short of breathtaking. Not forgetting that Brunate is an ordinary village, there is a calm community to be explored with incredible views stretching to the horizon along the way.

The striking Chiesa S. Andrea Apostolo of the many treasures sky-high in Brunate.

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