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At the head of the southwestern leg of Lake Como, the affluent city of Como is the hub of the region. Much of its historic core, the centro storico (old town), dates from medieval times and the city walls hark back to the 12th century.

Shops, cafes and galleries line the narrow, winding streets, a Gothic cathedral graces a central square, and Como's leading figures are commemorated in lavish monuments. With good ferry links to the rest of the lake and a funicular up into the hills, Como proves a versatile base for a visit to the region.

Behind the grand hotels, cafes and gelaterias that jostle for space along the waterfront is the medieval heart of the city, an area of narrow, arcaded lanes, sturdy tower houses and sun-drenched piazzas.

Como Cathedral, ComoIts focal point is the large, central Duomo (cathedral), which dominates the skyline as well as the shopping district. Moving farther into the city, Porta Torre, a massive defensive tower, dates from the 12th century and guards what was once the most important gateway to the city. Beyond it are newer streets with well-known Italian shops.

Como's marble-clad Duomo sports statues of Roman authors and local heroes Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger on its façade. Built between the 14th and 18th centuries, the Duomo is predominantly late Gothic in style with intricate stonework and a soaring Rococo cupola.

Inside, 16th and 17th-century paintings, tapestries and frescoes decorate the walls, while the stained glass dates from the 1800s. Beside the Duomo is the Broletto, Como's town hall, its 13th-century striped marble walls vying for attention.

In medieval times, Como was a highly wealthy place, its fortunes founded on the silk industry. Today, it remains one of Europe's most important silk trading hubs and, as you wander the lanes, you'll find boutiques selling a large range of silk scarves, ties and other garments. The silk museum near the train station explains the history of the trade.

Along with Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, Como celebrates another of its great sons, Alessandro Volta. Volta was born in Como in 1745 and later gained fame as a chemist, physicist and electrical pioneer, who invented the first battery and gave his name to the volt. 

A statue of Volta sits in the main square, and you can learn more about his work and see some of his equipment at the Tempio Voltiano, a museum set in a neo-classical building on the waterfront. Nearby is a sculpture by Daniel Libeskind dedicated to Volta.   

A walk along the waterfront, from where you can appreciate the views of the lake and mountains beyond, will bring you to the funicular station. The journey up the hillside to the village of Brunate, located high above Como, offers aerial views of Como and the lake.

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Audley Travel Specialist Joanna

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Como by calling one of our Italian Lakes specialists on 01993 838 960

Suggested itineraries featuring Como

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Como, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Como

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    Places near Como