If you are planning a visit to Milan, there are a number of day trip options available. In the end, we decided to rent a car and explore some of the lakes (Como and Garda) in addition to the sparkling wine region Franciacorta. The rental car process at the airport went pretty seamlessly. That being said, driving in Italy is not the easiest. In the cities, the traffic can get very hectic and our directions had us making turn after turn. Once you get out of the cities, the driving is relatively easy. Some of the roads do get rather narrow and traffic signs were a little difficult to decipher. We did not brush up on our Italian traffic signs and rules ahead of time. This is something that I would consider.
We decided to leave from the airport and drive up to Lake Como. Keep in mind that there are a number of towns along the lakes and that “going to Lake Como” can really mean a number of different things. I wanted to see Bellagio first prior to checking in to our hotel in Como town. We started our drive from the airport and made it to the Como area relatively quickly. Once we started driving to Bellagio, we quickly realized that the road was very narrow. There are many curves and twists. It was raining pretty badly during our drive. Due to the weather, about halfway to Bellagio, we decided to turn around and head back to Como. The driving conditions were not good, and this made us uncomfortable not being familiar with the area. For a future traveller, I would recommend taking the ferry from Como town to Bellagio. They were not running the day we wanted to go due to the inclement weather. The ferry would save the hassle of a difficult drive. If you go from Como to Bellagio, you could also take an additional 15 minute ferry over to Varenna, which I read is beautiful.
As our trip was in November, a number of the hotels were closed. In my searches, it seemed that the majority of the hotels closed at the end of October or beginning of November for the winter time. We did find a couple of hotels that remained open and made the decision to stay at Albergo Terminus. This hotel is in the town of Como. Another option in Como is VISTA palazzo. This is a more luxury option, as the cost was considerably more even for off season. I was seeing rates around $500 per/night. Albergo Terminus was much more reasonable and very charming. I will include photos of our room which included a walk out onto the roof. There were a few stairs up to a viewing point. Although the views were obstructed, it allowed you to see the lake to the north. They provided us with breakfast, which was included in our room rate. In addition, the hotel has a lovely, cozy restaurant to enjoy a cocktail or meal. This was a fantastic addition to our rainy afternoon.
We spent the remainder of our afternoon wandering around town and taking in the sights. There were a number of stores that were open and plenty of window shopping. Their cathedral is beautiful and in the middle of town. Also, we did not have any difficulty finding a place for a cocktail, which was Hemingway Bar. They made a great drink and provided some tasty snacks. We then wandered around looking for a place to eat dinner. Ultimately, I do not think this was the best restaurant in town, but the atmosphere was very lively and the place was packed given the quiet nature of the town. It was called Vintage Jazz Food & Wine. The best dish we had was a black truffle pasta with pappardelle noodles.
The following morning, we started walking around the lake. The weather was improved and the sky was clear. The views here are really breathtaking. Our hope was to take the funicular for better views. This proved to be closed. For those visiting, it is something that I think is worth checking out and was recommended by Albergo Terminus.
Ultimately, I do not regret making a visit to Lake Como in November. If I was able to take the ferry to Bellagio, I think this would have elevated the trip. Keep in mind that weather will dictate whether it is running or not. In the winter months, I think a shorter stay is more favorable.