As I was researching Italy, I knew I wanted to stay in the north, and be a somewhat easy train ride away from Venice to meet my mom. I narrowed my options to Sestri Levante, Pisa, Milan, Turin, Asti, Genoa, and Lake Como. (Really, quite a good suite of options, right?) I ruled out Sestri Levante and Cinque Terre because as gorgeous as they are, I’ve heard stories of the insane crowds and just didn’t feel like battling them.
I also liked the idea of doing something a little less frantic as the trip was winding down, and I also knew that as soon as my mom got there, I’d be super busy.
So I kept coming around to Lake Como. Looking at Lake Como, it’s a big lake (Captain Obvious wrote that sentence). But because it’s so big, there are lots of options for places to stay and little towns to stay in. Between Bellagio, Como, Varenna, Menagio, Laglio, and more, there are tons of options!
I knew I wanted something with easy train access, and easy walk-ability. After all, I knew I didn’t want to rent a car.
So I found Lecco and Como as my leading contenders, but I decided ultimately to go to Lecco! Lecco is on the southernmost, easternmost part of the lake. It’s also one of the biggest cities on the lake. It’s well-connected to some of the more famous spots by both train and ferry, and has easy connections to Milan and other big cities.
I decided to spend a week there, exploring both Lecco and the surrounding areas. I’m so glad I decided on a week… because for the first two days, I almost couldn’t get out of bed! Somehow, getting on the train in Avignon, when I put my backpack on, I screwed up my back. It was the first time I’ve ever had real back pain, and OMG ouch! It was a hard travel day – I screwed up my back first thing in the morning, and had three trains to go before making it to Lecco!
By the time I made it there that night, I pulled out my Tiger Balm and Ibuprofen and curled up in bed. It was really hard to convince myself to leave it! I feel lucky that the back problems happened when they did (if they had to happen at all…) because having the whole week in Lecco without moving around with the big backpack gave me a chance to heal.
And I’m glad I’m still in my 20s… because a week was enough to heal!
But once I made it out and about, I found a lot with Lecco to fall in love with. You’ll see things online that say Lecco is the “ugliest” town on Lake Como… but in my opinion, that’s sort of like being the ugliest girl at the Miss America pageant. Simply being there means you’re prettier than 99.9% of other people or towns. Because Lake Como is STUNNING.
I can see how the Clooneys and other people have just fallen in love with it. It’s laid-back, and has somehow managed to escape the insane crowds of the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre. And it’s gorgeous! The lake seems to be carved out of the mountains, which have all sorts of cliffs that are just amazing.
And, in Lecco, I found what was probably my favorite gelato in Italy! The AirBnB I rented was next door to Capo Horn gelato, and holy crap it was good! (Watch out, in a few weeks, my complete ranking of my Italian gelato tasting is coming. 🙂 )
I went at least once a day, and then wandered the minute or so down to the edge of the lake to watch the boats go by and other people wander around the lake. Lecco has great lakeside trails that have tons of benches to enjoy. I made great use of those on multiple afternoons – taking my Kindle and just reading the afternoon away.
It was so wonderful! And then the sun set… and the sunsets in Lake Como had a different quality to them than anywhere else I’ve seen. When I was there, it was cloudy a lot, so there were always rays of sun just hitting the mountains and peaking through clouds.
It definitely made me decide that one day when I’m rich (ha!), I’m definitely pulling a Clooney and getting a place on Lake Como!