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A tiny fishing community on a headland at the southern end of Lake Como, Torno is a tranquil retreat with fewer visitors than some of its counterparts.

The joy of a visit is simply to spend some time wandering around the little streets and lanes, where humble townhouses sit next to villas, many of them dating from the 16th century. Some remain in private ownership, while others are now hotels.

The village is located close to the lively town of Como, which is just 7 km (4.3 miles) to the south. You can easily travel between the two by a regular ferry or short taxi ride.

Torno has attracted international visitors for centuries thanks to its setting and blue waters. Leonardo da Vinci, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley all stayed here, and author Hermann Hesse was so taken by the village during his visit to Lake Como in 1913 that he mentioned it in his essay A Walk Around Lake Como.

Torno prospered in the Middle Ages, when the wool and textile industry thrived here and merchants built grand villas to display their wealth and good fortune. Its success put it in direct competition with Como to the south, and a siege in 1522 saw much of the town destroyed.

Two medieval churches still survive. Santa Tecla, by the lakeside, is a recreation of the original Romanesque church, its original bell tower reflected in the waters. Up the hill in the heart of the town is the 12th-century San Giovanni, which holds a nail reputedly from Christ's cross.

You can get a good sense of Torno and the surrounding area by exploring some of the walking trails that lead up the hillside to the village of Montepiatto. En route, you'll get sweeping views of the lake.

After some leisurely exploration, most visitors end up at the little port at the lakeside. A handful of restaurants cluster around waterfront Piazza Casartelli, where you can also linger over a drink in a café. A public ferry connects Torno with other villages on Lake Como.

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Map of Torno

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