In Deep: Lake ComoItaly | Lakes District
During the last Ice Age, powerful glaciers shifted to create a mountainous cove that’s been treasured by mankind ever since, the home of Lake Como.
Lake Como By The Numbers
Today, it is Italy’s third-largest lake, composed of three long, narrow arms that meet at Bellagio. One arm stretches southwest to Como, another southeast to Lecco, and the third north to Colico. Como’s total length is 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Como to Gera at the northern point, and its greatest width, 4.4 kilometres (2.7 miles), is at the lake’s belly, just to the north of Bellagio. Lake Como’s chief source of water is the Adda, which flows in at Colico and out at Lecco.
A Union Between Peaks and Valleys
Surrounding Lake Como are breathtakingly tall snow-capped mountains that form an attractive backdrop. The mountain country around the lake consists of the Intelvi, Menaggio, Dongo and Gravedona valleys to the west, the Valassina and the Valbrona in the centre, and the Valsassina, Val d’Esino and Val Varrone to the east. These mountains greatly influence the wind patterns on Como. The two predominant winds, the Tivano from the north at night and in the morning, and the Breva from the south from noon to sunset, are reminders of the union between the mountains and the lake. Moreover, the sheer height of these mountains conversely hints at the depth of the lake. At 410 metres (1,345 feet), Lake Como is one of the deepest in Europe.
Como has been noted as one of the world’s most beautiful places since the earliest days of mankind. The breathtaking beauty of the lake has served as an inspiration for artists throughout history, from the poets Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger of the Roman era to the enraptured musicians Verdi, Wagner and Liszt of the Romantic era. Lake Como traditionally has served as the favoured playground for the Milanese, but it has also been a preferred holiday retreat of the English. Wordsworth lived here in 1790, Shelley and Byron frequently visited the lake and D.H. Lawrence made it his home from 1925 to 1927. Nowadays, you may catch a glimpse of one of Hollywood’s own, George Clooney, who owns a villa down the lake close to the city of Como.
This “triangle” is really a peninsula between the two southern extensions, or “legs,” of Lake Como. The towns of Como, Bellagio and Lecco are all found here. Mount San Primo is the highest peak on the peninsula, at 1,686 metres. The peninsula is also known as La Punta Spartivento, the point that divides the wind.