Humorous factor in regards to the metropolis of Como in Northern Italy is that many journey guides suggest getting out of city and crusing round Lake Como, fairly than staying put in a metropolis I’ve come to like all by itself for its magnificence, its dimension, its historical past and its meals. Sure, you may hop a tour boat and go to all of the wonders of Lake Como—the charming cities of Bellagio and Tremezzo, the funicular as much as the mountain city of Brunate—however Como itself teems with issues to do and see.
Simply reached by prepare from Milan, Como has by no means been overrun with vacationers (who use it as a base from which to discover the lake), and its manageable metropolis heart is laid out largely alongside rectangular strains, with impeccably clear streets and restored buildings that embody trendy monuments properly out of the abnormal in massive Italian cities. There’s little of the baroque in Como, and its magnificent cathedral is the final of its variety within the Gothic fashion with Romanesque motifs, relationship to the tip of the 14th century.
It’s a very interesting strolling metropolis, mendacity flat on the lake’s edge, with a broad Piazza Cavour flanked with wonderful buildings, together with the town’s greatest and most trendy Vista Palazzo Lago di Como Lodge and the previous Metropole Suisse, although esthetically compromised by the grotesque banality of Lodge Barchetta Excelsior. Right here is the apparent place to start out, from the prepare station, or, when you come from the north by the town’s Porto Nuovo gate, which bears robust resemblance to 1 in a De Chirico portray.
Como was house to Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), the inventor of the electrical battery and somebody who’s extensively held as a favourite native son within the metropolis. You’ll be able to tour by yourself these locations related to the scientist, together with the classical highschool Liceo Voltaclose to the gate; Volta’s home on By way of Volta; the Volta Museum on Viale Marconi, in-built 1927, the place you’ll discover the primary model of the electrical battery; the avant-garde Monumentdesigned by architect Daniel Liebeskind on the backside of Diga Foranea; Volta’s tomb is inside the Camnago Volta village; and the Volta Lighthouse up in Brunate, designed by Gabriele Giussani in 1927.
The town was as soon as heart of the architectural fashion known as Italian Rationalism, developed within the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties primarily based on rules of functionalism for which a constructing ought to clearly mirror the aim for which it was created with out a lot flourish. Such buildings round city embody the Camerlata Fountain by Cesare Cattaneo and Mario Radice in 1936; the progressive and influential Sant’Elia Kindergarten (1937) by Giuseppe Terragni with its wall of glass bringing gentle into the lecture rooms; the Warfare Memorial of bolstered concrete designed by Antonio Sant’Elia and constructed by Giuseppe Terragni; properly price visiting is the Casa del Fascio, in-built 1936 because the Fascist Occasion headquarters (now a legislation enforcement company constructing) that epitomizes the restraint and stability of Italian Rationalism, which stands out amidst the remainder of the previous mundane buildings on the block.
One thing of this similar sense of order and spatial dynamics is to be discovered within the buying streets behind the primary Piazza and the previous extant medieval partitions. There are great meals outlets, bakeries and cafés, together with very particular clothes shops dedicated to native designers, together with the darling Il Girotondo degli Angeli for infants and kids on By way of Cinque Giornato. Tessabit, with two shops, has reasonably priced males’s and girls’s fashions, and for greater finish there may be Franca Roncoroni on By way of Varesina, whereas Wolford on By way of Indipendenza sells beautiful lingerie; for housewares, and residential décor, try Dep on By way of Carcano. There are, after all, the worldwide style chain shops additionally within the metropolis heart.
Some time again I wrote about the place to eat in Como, so let me simply jot down some names right here: The best alta cucina within the loveliest spot on the lake is on the Vista Palazzo Lago di Como Lodge’s Sottovoce, the place chef Stefano Mattara works wonders with native elements. Chef Carlo Molon makes a worthwhile go to to Kincho outdoors of city on the Sheraton Lake Como. My favourite trattoria is Osteria Gallo, tucked into By way of Vitani, the place the di Toma household has over 37 years perfected the standard fare of Lombardy, like braised pork and candy prunes and chestnuts. And when you crave nice pizza, stroll over to the gorgeous blue-and-white Napule Pizzerias (there are two), the place “Papa” Umberto and his three youngsters, Ciro, Antonio and Katiuscia, have a excessive popularity on the town and rightly so.
The lakes of Northern Italy all have their particular person attraction, however for me the town of Como is expressive of the perfect of classical Italian magnificence and modernity, and for its quiet, its sparse vacationer crowd and its refined inhabitants, it’s a place the place you may keep away from the frenzy elsewhere as Italy returns to regular.