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Romantic and lively, the first thing to hit you as you approach Lake Como is the peace, tranquility and stunning views. It's only half an hour from Milan, but has a completely different way of life.

The Piazza Cavour, on the bank of the lake is easily the best place to appreciate the snow capped mountains. The Piazza is also home to the fabulous 14th century cathedral with its Gothic and Renaissance additions. An earlier cathedral, San Fedele should be seen, as should the 900 year old gateway, Porta Vittoria. If art galleries are your thing, the Pinacoteca is the one to go to.

Como is the best place from which to explore the lake. Water taxis, ferries and hydrofoils take you on spectacular tours and stop in each of the following villages.

Take the ferry to Menaggio where this is only a short walk to the beautiful promenade running the length of the village. It has a wonderfully 'dolce vita' feel to it.

Bellagio is well known for being ‘The Pearl of the Lake'; this beautiful hilly town is full of cobbled streets with cafes and shops spilling over onto them. It's also home to important Renaissance villas and grand hotels, one being the Villa Este with rooms similar to museums, and whose garden has a floating swimming pool!

Varenna is smaller than Bellagio. Tiny steep roads wind up to the Castle of Vezio, best known for being the place that Theolinda, Queen of the Lombards, was killed in the 7th Century. It's also full of lovely villas, which you pass going down to the 10th century Romanesque church. En route you can stroll around the Villa Cipressi gardens.

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