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LAKE COMO

LAKE COMO

Lake Como, in ancient times called Lario, is characteristically shaped like a sprawling upside-down Y with its three arms, the western one called Como's, the eastern called Lecco's and finally the northern called Colico's.
Third Italian largest lake after Garda and Maggiore Lakes, covering a surface of 146 km2 , yet it is the first for its perimeter length (about 160 Km) and depth, that is 410 metres between Argegno and Nesso.
The lake's geologic origin, as many other Italian sub-alpine lakes, is glacial: in the Quaternary its basin was totally covered with an impressive glacier and reached Brianza where its mark is still evident in the existing morainic hills.
The Lake receives the rich contribution of 37 affluent streams, and the main ones are Adda rising in Valtellina and going out of Lecco's ann and Mera rising in Valchiavenna. Adda is the only affluent and after going out of the Lake and forming the little lakes of Garlate and Olgiate, go on to Po.
Lario is framed by imposing summits, the highest of which, Mount Legnone - over Colico ‑ is 2610 metres high. For the natural beauty of its rocks and the richness of its shapes, particular attention should be paid to the group of Grigne as well as Resegone, representing, because of its 1875 metres, the striking eastern background of the town of Lecco. Finally, the long ridge of the Mount S. Primo trimmed with sunny and huge chestnut woods immortalised by Shelley in 1818, offers enchanting landscapes, both rich and different , to be pleasantly discovered in quiet walks in the green or during demanding high altitudes trekking experiences.
The only island of the Lake is the islet of Comacina also called San Giovanni's, property of the Accademia di Belle Arti of Milan , precious for its ruins of religious buildings on Roman pre‑existences and even for its well preserved oratory of San Giovanni.
Lario is a particularly lucky territory, favoured by an unusually mild climate and the Alpine range serving as a barrier to the winds coming from the North: all this allows an extraordinary richness in the flora boasting, above all in Tremezzina area which is one of the sunniest areas of the Lake, typically Mediterranean plants such as olives, laurels, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias, myrtles, wild figs and even palms. Certainly, one of the most unique characteristics of Como Lake consists in the magic variety of the landscapes reflecting a peaceful union, in the same territory, of the most different physical realitics and the most changeable scenarios, mirrored in the green and wavy waters of Lario, in past times so loved by poets, writers and musicians. Stendhal was seduced by the "sublime and graceful aspects of this lake", by the "austerity of Lecco's arm and the voluptuousness of Como's arm". And this same successful contrast between the two arms of the Lake is appreciated by Silvio Pellico who, in a letter dated 1819, describes it as ".... the one charming and full of houses .the other melancholy and solitary as my soul is ". Flaubert compares Lario to a Shakespearean landscape where all the nature feelings are joined together and "the grand predominates". The combination of such celebrated variety is enchanting gracefulness and again in Flaubert's words is "spectacle created for the eyes' pleasure". Inhabited since the prehistory, Lario has always represented an important and strategic line of communication between the Northern districts and the pianura Padana. After the Gauls , the Romans settled there and exploiting such favourable geographic position opened, on the western shore, the line connecting 'Larius" to Rhaetia. Because of such favourable position - from here Maloja's and Spluga's passes could be reached - the lake was always exposed to invasions and rules. After the Franks, the town of Corno finally gained its independence around the year 1000 but it was afterwards subject to theá Visconti and Sforza families, who decided to widen the Adda's bed so as to obtain a resourceful river connection to the Duchy of Milan thus determining the opening of the canal of Paderno, following an old project by Leonardo da Vinci. Then, the foreign Spanish, Austrian and French rules, above all the Habsburgs strove to enhance the potentialities offered by the lake: in fact, they immediately grasped the importance of the lake way and for this reason they tried to grant many privileges and tax allowances to those who were ready to promote steam navigation. On 29th July 1826 the "Lario" was launched and it sailed from Como to Domaso in five hours only when it took at least twelve hours by the usual rowing and sailing boats. On the other side, the 'Plinio" guaranteed the navigation between Lecco and Domaso.
Nowadays, a rich variety of boats, such as ferryboats, motorboats, hydrofoils and motorships, makes the transfers and above all the tourist excursions, comfortable and highly striking.
The sweeping views from the Lake are exciting and unique: the princely residences showing off on the shores and the luxuriant vegetation provide bewitching pictures of harmony and gentle perfection. The image of Lario "all inlets and gulfs" as Manzoni described it, conveys a special sense of enchantment and astonishment: the outlines of villas mirrored in the water, the discreet inlets with the small marina, the standing out bell towers, the scented flowering gardens and on the background the powerful summits of the encircling mountains. And all such beauty is not simply natural and landscapes: the eighteenth/nineteenth-century noble Lombard villas, the abbeys guarding seventeenth-century frescoes, the medieval monasteries and churches, the neoclassic buildings and affectedly Liberty architectures, all of them certainly draw the attention and also stimulate the study of the connoisseurs and even succeed in enchanting the most famous directors that intentionally choose such places for their being magic and naturally endowed settings.
In fact, George Lucas shot part of his "Star Wars II" in the fascinating Villa Balbianello that Silvio Pellico once described as "fantastic, poetic and magic" and accommodated famous personalities such as Cavour, Berchet, Giusti and Manzoni.
The Lake is also the favourite destination to skilful sailors: the typical inconstancy of the winds makes it the ideal sailing school. Many are the sailing clubs and during the summer even international sailing regattas are held here.
Finally, the Lake also represents a precious naturalist resource: not far from Gravedona is the Pian di Spagna, so called because of the Spanish troops settled there between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century. Nowadays, this area is an important international naturalist reserve. Designed by Legambiente and WWF, it is the natural habitat for hundred dying species as well as the ideal hold for many species of sedentary and peregrine birds that, like Flaubert, would not like to live anywhere else!



It is advisable to check also the availability of the apartments in Manerba del Garda and the B&B in Ossuccio.