Como   is a town in Lombardy, on the Italian-Swiss border. It sits at the southern end of Lake Como.
Como has always been an area of intense activity, as it has acted over the centuries as a crossing point between Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Built by the Romans at the end of the Piedmont road, it was an important communication point between Rome and its northern territories. In more recent times Como became famed for its silk.
Como was the birthplace of the Roman scientists Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, as well as Alessandro Volta, 18th century inventor of the battery and the man who gave his name to the unit of electrical force - the Volt.
The area around Lake Como, or "Lago di Como" in Italian, is pretty characteristic. It has a kind of flair and sense of history that tends to impress its visitors in a sense deeper than only from a touristic point of view. It has been appreciated for its beauty and uniqueness for ages, and even as early as the Roman Times. Its atmosphere and natural surroundings have been the inspiration for an important part of the creation of Naboo, in the Star Wars movies. (In the same way as the atmosphere in Tozeur and Matmata have been recreated in Episode IV, "A New Hope")
Nearly all visitors to Como will arrive via Milan. Other routes in are via Lugano, Switzerland.
The nearest airports to Como are:
- Milan Malpensa (MXP Tel: 02.74852200) 40-60 minutes drive via the autostrada toll road costing 1 Euro 60 cents; coach 3 times daily or can negotiate with private coach firms outside airport
- Milan Linate (LIN Tel: 02.74852200) 1 hour drive on toll road costing about 2.70 Euros.
- Bergamo's Orio al Serio (BGY Tel: 035 326323) about 1-2 hours drive away on toll road costing about 5 Euros, or regular coach to Milan then change to train or coach to Como.
The Servizio Ferroviario Regionale connects Como by train to other major cities in Lombardy (R lines). Services are provided by Trenitalia (a.k.a. Ferrovie dello Stato: FS) (website) and LeNORD (website timetables) through two main stations: Como S. Giovanni (Trenitalia) and Como Lago (LeNORD). There is another urban station served by Trenitalia (Albate) and three more urban stations served by LeNORD (Como Borghi-Università, Como Camerlata and Grandate Breccia). A trip to Milan costs 3.50€.
From 2008 Como will also be connected to Milan with the line S9 of the Servizio Ferroviario Suburbano (S).
The E35 motorway (toll costs 1.60 for the A9 stretch, 1.10 for the A4 section, about 1.50 for the E35 section west of Milan) runs past Como from Milan, and goes on into Switzerland. There are many exits to Como; avoid Como South, choose the next ones (signed Como Nord and Monte Olimpino) for the city, and the last exit (signed ultima uscita per l'Italia) before Switzerland for Cernobbio, Bellagio and for towns on the western lake shore.
The centre of Como is rather compact and can be covered easily on foot.
The local public transport network comprises several lines. Some are mostly within city limits (Urbani) and some are Extraurbani (crossing city limits). (C) lines connect Como with most of the provincial centres. They are provided by SPTLinea .
Line 1: Chiasso FS - S.Fermo timetable()
Line 3: Lora - Grandate timetable()
Line 4: S.Giovanni FS - Camnago V. timetable()
Line 5: S.Giovanni FS - Civiglio timetable()
Line 6: Maslianico - Albate timetable()
Line 7: Sagnino - Lora timetable()
Line 8: S.Giovanni FS - Casnate timetable()
Line 9: P.za Cavour - Cimitero timetable()
Line 10: Albate - Navedano timetable()
Line 11: P.Chiasso - Bassone timetable()
Line 12: Camerlata-S.Fermo-Tavernola timetable()
You must buy a ticket before boarding; the driver does not sell them and carries no money. Buy them at newstands, some bars and all Tabacchi. An urban ticket for a single ride costs €1, while a ticket for 75 minutes costs €1.05. The complete ticket fares can be found online at .
Tickets vary depending on the start and destination stops:
- Yellow Tariffa U with green text and the words "Rete Urbana-Como";
- Green Tariffa B with black text (named start and destination, Urbani and Extraurbani);
- Green Tariffa B with red text (list of towns, Urbani and Extraurbani);
Tariffa U tickets also have the text "Valido 75'", which means it is valid for 75 minutes from
when it was validated (you do this in a machine onboard the bus).
Wait until the bus is about to depart before validating in order to maximise
your use. You can exit the bus at one stop and get on another bus
within the Como urban area with the same ticket, as long as you leave the
last bus before the 75 minutes expire. The driver will likely want to
see your ticket when you get on, and spot checks are sometimes done
by uniformed officials. For example you can travel 20 minutes,
get off, look around for 30 minutes and return on the same ticket (if the bus arrives on time).
The Tariffa B tickets with black text are usually validated by the driver tearing off
the top and bottom sections. Inspectors may further validate it by punching it with a quarter circle hole - the ticket already has a circular hole in it.
The Tariffa B tickets with red text will have a list of towns, starting with Como.
When you purchase it you say which town and the seller will punch a hole in that town
(or have some already punched). This makes the ticket valid only for journeys
between Como and the punched town, or viceversa.
Como buses do not have route plans onboard, and the driver does not announce stops (you could ask nicely though). Follow the route with a map to be sure.
Ferrovie Nord Milano also provides other bus lines connecting Como to Varese in substitution of the original railway line that was dismissed in the 1960s.
The funicolare (funicular) connects the center of Como with Brunate, a small village (1800 inhabitants) on a mountain at 715 meters above sea level. The journey takes about 7 minutes and the view is worth the trip: it can also be the starting point for a stroll on the mountains. Timetables can be found online.
The boats and 'aliscafi' of Navigazione Lago di Como connect the town with most of the villages sitting on the shores of the lake, the former are slower and right for sightseeing, the latter are faster and make less stops.
A taxi service is provided by the Comune di Como, local phone numbers are 031-2772, and 031-261515.
- Volta Lighthouse. Boasting some of the best views on the lake, this very high building will allow you to look down on the lake some 2000 feet below. The easiest way to get to it is by first taking the funicular railway up to Brunate and then walking. 1 Euro.
- Cathedral (duomo), (a short walk from the waterfront down Via Caio Plinio II). Como's richly decorated 19th century Gothic-Renaissance Cathedral. (45.811632,9.083462)
- Tempio Voltiano (Temple Volta), (the round building on the waterfront). A nice stop on your stroll along the waterfront, the temple to Volta is designed in neoclassical style. It houses an exhibition about Volta (a native of Como who invented the electric battery). The front of the building showcases two statues, representing science and faith.
- War Memorial, (on the waterfront next to the Tempio Voltiano). An interesting building to see, it is one of the tallest structures near the water.
- City Walls. The ruins of the 12th century city walls, which encircle the narrow, winding streets of the old town. The old town is still called the "walled town" (città murata).
- Isola Comacina, (take the ferry to the Isola Comacina stop). A small island with ruins of several byzantine churches. It was once a town that allied with Milan against Como. The town was destroyed by Como's army in 1169.
- Como's museums - the Civic Archeological Museum (Civico Museo Archeologico "P. Giovio") and the History Museum (Museo Storico "G. Garibaldi") in the Palazzo Giovio and the neighboring Palazzo Olginati
- The Civic Art Gallery (Pinacoteca Civica), near to the Palazzo Volpi
- Boat Trip. Take a boat trip on Lake Como (Lago di Como) to the picturesque villages of Bellagio, Varenna and Tremezzo. Tickets are cheap (6 euro) and can be purchased at the kiosk on the lake front. The boat stops in these villages and you can take a walk there and continue the trip with the next boat until you reach Como again.
- Walk along the Waterfront. Como has a pleasant walkway along the water. It passes by the Tempio Voltiano, the war memorial (WWI), and several beautiful villas. The path is also pleasantly dotted with gellaterias.
- Funicolare. Take the cable car (funicolare) to the tiny village of Brunate perched on the hills overlooking Como. Piazza di Gaspere 4, tel: +39 031 303608. The web site http://www.funicolarecomo.it/ is in Italian, English, German and French and has a timetable, prices, etc.
- Bicycle Ride. Rent a bicycle and ride up the hill into Switzerland before descending to the beautiful Lake Lugano. Follow the lake north to the Swiss city of Lugano . Head east from Lugano and back across the border into Italy. When you reach Lake Como, turn south and return to the city of Como, completing the circle .
- Go ice skating at the Centro Sportivo Casate, via Virgilio 16, tel: +39 031 505118
Petrol is considerably cheaper in nearby Switzerland, while Diesel is about the same price, (in 2004) so remember to top-up the car in the cheapest place.
Keep the receipt of anything purchased in Switzerland as the Italian customs may ask to see it, and if a large value item, you will need to pay the difference in the two Value Added Tax rates (approximately 13 percent). As of 2004 there is a limit of 12,500 Euros equivalent that may be brought into Italy at any one time.
- Eat where the Italians eat, so avoid the overpriced and often poor-quality tourist traps! Full meals for 10 Euros or less per person is normal (starter, main course, desert, wine, coffee all included). Restaurants in the historic centre tend to be more expensive approaching 20 Euros. Walk behind Hotel Firenze and find a popular pizza-restaurant. Restaurants facing the lake are more expensive. Water from the tap is clean and free, so no need to pay for expensive bottled water.
- Cheap pub-type restaurants are at Camerlata (5 minutes by car or 10 minutes by bus) (five to ten Euros but no view at all)
- Drive to the "iPer" shopping centre at Grandate (10-15 minutes) for a self-service, freshly cooked meal. Difficult to pay more than 10 Euros.
- Wine is very cheap so buy it in the supermarkets (from around 1 Euro per litre for decent quality), not in restaurants
- Locanda dell' Isola Comacina Isola Comcina, Ossuccio, tel. ++39 0344 56755 fax ++39 0344 57022 "The price per person including wine, water, cover charge and tax is € 60."
- Birreria 35, Via Rovelli 35, +39 031279501. Relax in the bohemian and friendly atmosphere of this pub, where you can sit down at the wooden tables and enjoy beer (and any other drinks) and snacks. The walls are covered with all sorts of objects from around the world, musical instruments, paintings, photos etc. You are likely to hear Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel or Fabrizio de Andrè (Italian singer/songwriter) playing on the Hi-Fi system.
- Hotel Firenze, Piazza Volta 16, +39 031 300 333 (fax.+39 031 300101). Central, comfortable rooms with ensuite, from 73 Euros, parking for a fee (10-20 Euros) at Hotel Tre Re (2004). (inside the historic town centre)
- Hotel Tre Re, Via Boldoni, 20, +39 031 265374 (fax.+39 031 241349). Central, with restaurant, comfortable rooms with ensuite, from around 80 Euros including free but limited parking (2004). (inside the historic town centre)
- Hotel Barchetta Excelsior [www.hotelbarchetta.it]. Prices around 100 Euros for a double room. Located within the city walls on Piazza Cavour facing the lake, round the corner from the Cathedral and the main bus stops. (check mixed customer reviews before booking)
Out of town
- Hotel Metropole Bellagio Lake Como, Piazza Mazzini, 1, 22021, Bellagio (Co), Italy, Tel: 0039031950409 Fax: 0039031951534, [email protected], Hotel Metropole Bellagio Lake Como Website. Three star hotel located in Bellagio along the shores of Lake Como (about two hours from Como). High season singles from 85 Euros, doubles from 135 Euros.
- Al-Marnich Agritourism, road to Posa - 22020 - Schignano (Como). A certified FarmHouse (Agritourism) with B&B and Restaurant service, near lake Como (Argegno). Al-Marnich Agritourism Website. Mobile Phone: 0039.3385905015 or Farm Phone: 0039.031819242. Email: [email protected] From 40 Euro per person, free parking. (not on the lake and an hour drive from Como town)
- Hotel Plinio Au Lac (Via Regina 101, 22010 Laglio Torriggia, Tel ++39.031.401271 Fax ++39.031.401278) is on the west side of the lake at Laglio, modern, singles from 90 Euros, free parking. Laglio is isolated with buses only hourly and no boat service so you need a car. Quiet and Ok for avoiding the bustle of Como, but less well-connected than Menaggio, Argegno or Bellagio. Has its own open-air waterfront restaurant. Not much to see in Laglio.
- Milan is a short distance away by train from Como S. Giovanni (40 minutes), bus or car (from 40 minutes depending on traffic).
- Como is right on the border with Switzerland. As Switzerland is not part of the European Union, there is a possibility that you will be delayed by checks at the border, although these are infrequent and usually not rigorous. Remember your passport. There is a limit on currency brought in from Switzerland (around 12,500 Euros in 2006)
- Brianza the area between Como and Milan, full of little lakes and villas of XVI, XVII and XVIII sec.