Como is one of the many places near Milan where I had passed several times without ever stopping and I was very wrong! I have finally recovered! Como is a very beautiful, elegant, romantic and well-kept city, definitely more interesting than the "rival" on the other branch of the lake (Lecco). The city is fortified and part of the walls and access gates are still visible today. Inside there is the historic center, with a medieval layout, with narrow cobbled streets and magnificent squares. Very elegant the lakefront with several eighteenth-century villas and the Volta Temple. In fact, Como is also famous for being the birthplace of Alessandro Volta (the one who invented the pile) and paid homage to him in different parts of the city.
How to reach Como from Milan
Como is located 40 km north of Milan, close to the Swiss border, and can be easily reached by car or train. Personally I recommend the train, I'm alone 40 'journey between Milan Central Station and Como San Giovanni Station (4,5 euros one way) and you will avoid all parking problems. The city is also small and can be easily explored on foot.
What to see in Como in 1 day
The itinerary I propose starts from the station. Once out, you reach the lakefront to explore the Volta Temple and the villas (including Villa Olmo). From there you go back to enter the historic center with the Cathedral, San Fedele, etc., before taking the funicular to Brunate.
Open since 1928 on the occasion of the centenary of Volta's death, this neoclassical style temple was built to house the memorabilia of the great scientist and inside you can find a permanent exhibition dedicated to his great scientific work. The space is divided into 2 floors; you will find a series of showcases with more than 200 scientific equipment and instruments, as well as an example of the famous battery. From February 2020 it is closed to the public for restoration work.
2.The lakeside promenade and the villas
Looking at the Volta temple and continuing along the lake to the west, you will find some of the most beautiful villas in the city. The first you will find on your left is Villa Saporiti (called La Rotonda), a beautiful villa built in the 700s, today occupied by the Province, which in the past hosted personalities of the caliber of Napoleon and Prince Ferdinand I of Austria. Shortly after there is Villa Mondolfo, built on the remains of an ancient convent and renovated several times, which now belongs to a private individual (lucky him!). Going further you will see the oldest villa in the city, Villa Gallia, built as a summer residence in 1615 by the abbot Marco Gallio. The building, which belonged to the family until 1772, is now owned by the Province of Como.
After Villa Gallia you will see the gates of the most imposing neoclassical villa in Como, Villa Olmo. Built at the behest of Innocenzo Odescalchi at the end of the 700th century, it has beautiful interiors, very refined and elegant, which are now used by the Municipality of Como for conferences and art exhibitions. The visit to the ground floor is free, as well as that of magnificent Italian gardens surrounding the villa.
4.Broletto and Piazza Duomo
Going back, always along the lakefront, at a certain point you will arrive at Piazza Cavour. Turning right you will enter the historic center to arrive in the beautiful Piazza Duomo. The square is dominated by the Broletto, the ancient town hall, built in 1215 at the behest of the mayor, with a magnificent Gothic facade with polychrome marble bands. In the same square, in addition to the Duomo (see below), there is also the neoclassical Teatro Sociale.
5. Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Il Como Cathedral it just left me stunned! I entered the square from a side alley and came out right in front of the facade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. What can I say, it is one of the finest examples of Italian Gothic! Begun towards the end of the 1300s, the works ended only at the end of the 700s; for its construction many changes were made to the entire neighborhood. The cathedral is also very beautiful inside, but the highlight in my opinion is the facade: simply magnificent!
6. San Fedele
Going even further into the historic center, you will find yourself in oldest district of Como, the medieval district of San Fedele, whose fulcrum is the homonymous square, once the site of the grain market. All around narrow alleys and magnificent buildings with the classic structure made of exposed wood and herringbone bricks. Also worth seeing is the Church of San Fedele, nestled between the buildings in the square.
7. Como-Brunate funicular
Returning to Piazza Cavour and walking along the lakefront this time to the east, shortly after you will see a funny wooden building (reminiscent of a mountain hut). This is the basis of the Como-Brunate funicular, inaugurated no less than in 1894, a symbol of the development of public transport in that period, when every center of the province was connected to the chief town by a series of public transport lines. For more than 100 years this funicular connects Como with the village of Brunate.
8. Bruno and the Volta Lighthouse
The village of Brunate was born as a holiday resort for the rich people of Como (and not) in the nineteenth century and is famous not only for the panorama but also for the many beautiful Art Nouveau villas. Immediately after the arrival of the funicular you will find one of the many panoramic points that have earned it the name of "Balcony on the Alps". From here it is possible to see the entire western Alps, the Po Valley and the Apennines. Then walking uphill for half an hour you will reach the Volta Lighthouse, a building overlooking the lake built for the centenary of Volta's death (which can be climbed). Along the climb to the Volta Lighthouse I recommend that you make a stop (to eat or just to drink) at the Locanda del Dolce Basilico. For me it was love at first sight !! The tables outside under the pergola are pure poetry!
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