I didn’t start LIttle Trips to be a personal travel journal style blog but I still want a way to share about some of the places we’ve been on our own vacations. My hope is my “Our Little Trip to....” posts will help you get a feel for our trip and perhaps give you a starting point for your own. I’m not an expert in these cities, so please consult other blogs, travel sites, and books to help you plan too!
Our Little Trip to Lake Como
Who: Me, my kids (4 and 2.5 years old), my husband, my brother, his wife, my niece (2.5 years old)
When: The third weekend of April, 2018 for 3 nights. The weather was above average warm and we never had any rain. I wouldn’t say our weather was typical for the end of April and likely more what one would find at the end of May.
How: We drove a small van from Pisa (less than 4 hour driving time, plus stops). My husband met us at the train station since he was working in Milan during the week.
Where we stayed: This AirBnB in Lecco https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3432017 . It wasn’t fancy, but perfect for our group (who wants fancy with 3 kids anyway?) and very spacious. It was close to the train station but also had its own secure parking spot. Best of all, it was walkable with little ones to the lake shore of Lecco.
Where we went/what we did:
Lakeshore area of central Lecco- there was a playground for the kids, giant swans, plenty of benches to sit on, a long walkway to stroll, and a lovely view. The area was calm on Friday night, but loud and busy and quite crowded on Saturday and Sunday nights. We also took a boat tour from the Lecco taxi boat dock.
Varenna- the highlight of our trip. Described in a travel book as being the better option to “overrated” Bellagio (their words, not mine) we decided to check it out. It’s not stroller friendly but very kid friendly being that the tiny streets have no cars and there’s a wonderful little playground by the ferry dock. Our kids had a blast in Varenna.
Drive to/around Bellagio- We couldn’t find parking so we didn’t actually go into the town of Bellagio, so I can't comment on Bellagio other than you should take a boat! I can say that the road between Lecco and Como (SP 538) is not for the faint of heart...it is as narrow as a one way, but is two directional, so you have to be very cautious around turns and keep your speed very low. There are also road bikers along the road for added hazard. However, living in Italy for 17 months at this point meant it was less shocking to us to navigate (my brother’s family was a bit white knuckled during the drive though). We also had one episode of car-sickness on this road too, which wasn’t surprising given the turns and changes in speed.
Onno- on our way back from Bellagio we stopped at a small restaurant across from the lake shore in Onno, then found a spot on the rocky beach and relaxed by the water for a while.
Where we ate: Pizzeria Capri (Lecco), Gelateria La Paserella (Varenna), Trattoria Grigna (Onno), Il Borgo Scacciaventi http://www.ilborgoscacciaventi.it/ (Lecco). We ended up enjoying each place we went and I would recommend them all as being kid friendly and having good food. The only restaurant I didn’t list is a place in Varenna. We chose it because they had an open table and reasonable prices and our kids were hungry, but I don’t even remember the name of it. The restaurants on either side of us looked good too. There are lots of restaurants in Varenna, so take your pick and see what looks tasty.
Boats specific to Lecco http://www.taxiboatlecco.com/ (We did the Manzoniano boat tour)
Boats that go around Como http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/eng/c_illago.html other boat options (see timetables, fares, and routes links in sidebar)
Lessons learned and helpful tips:
I’d seriously consider train options for other cities around Lake Como. It’s obviously popular with motorcycles and created some stressful conditions on otherwise beautiful lakeside roads.
If we had more time, or slightly older kids, we would have loved to consider renting a boat.
Look up boat schedules online, don’t necessarily trust printed schedules given by your AirBnB (though obviously it was done with good intentions!).
Slow down and just enjoy the lake, and views, and Italy. Yes, we had 3 days in Como and saw only one area of the lake. But our kids were happy, we were happy, and its impossible to see everything no matter how long you have.