Submitted by scott on Wed, 12/01/2021 - 11:28

(Italy:  Handbook for Travelers)

Lake of Como.

Plan of Excursion. The most beautiful point on the Lake of Como is Bellaggio, which is admirably situated for a stay of several days and for short excursions. - Those who wish to visit the Lakes of Como and Lugano and Lago Maggiore without loss of time should pursue the following route, starting from Milan: train at 10:50 a.m. in 2 hrs. to Como (Cathedral); proceed by steamboat 1 1/4 p.m. in 1 1/2 hr. to Cadenabbia or Bellaggio, spending the night there. In the evening and next morning visit Villa Carlotta, Serbelloni, and Melzi; by steamboat in 1/4 hr., or by rowing-boat, to Menaggio; thence by omnibus at 11 a.m. (fare 2 1/2 fr.) in 2 hrs. to Porlezza, in time for the steamboat which starts for Lugano at 1:15 p.m. (Sund. and Tuesd. excepted), arriving in 1 hr. (2 fr. or 1 fr.), early enough to leave time for the ascent of Monte S. Salvadore. From Lugano Diligence to Luino at 9 a.m. in 2 3/4 hrs., steamboat from Luino in 1 1/2 hr. to the Borromean Islands, thence in 1 hr. to Arona. The above information is obtained from the time-tables of last summer.

Steamboat 3 times daily from Como to Colico in 3 1/2 hrs.; to Lecco (railway to Bergamo) 3 times weekly at 5 1/2 a.m., returning at 1 3/4 p.m. Fares from Como to Colico 4 fr. or 2 fr. 10 c., from Como to Cadenabbia or Bellaggio 2 fr. 55 or 1 fr. 40 c. Stations: Torno, Moltrasio, Carate, Laglio, Torrigia, Nesso, Argegno, Campo, Lenno, Tremezzina, Cadenabbia (pier), Bellaggio (pier), Varenna, Menaggio (pier), Bellano, Rezzonico, Dervio, Cremia, Dongo, Gravedona, Domaso, Colico; tickets (gratis) for the ferry boats attached to the steamboat tickets (the boatmen however expect a trifling gratuity). Between Cadenabbia, or Menaggio, and Bellaggio, the steamboat is the cheapest mode of conveyance, especially for single travellers. Those who embark at intermediate stations between Como and Colico must provide themselves with a ticket at the pier; otherwise they are liable to be charged for the whole distance from Como or Colico.

Rowing-boats (barca ). First hour 14, fr. for each rower, each additional hour 1 fr. each rower. From Bellaggio to Cadenabbia and back (or vice versâ) 3, with 2 rowers 4 fr.; Bellaggio-Menaggio and back 4 fr.; Bellaggio-Varenna and back 4 fr. ; Bellaggio, Villa Melzi, Villa Carlotta, and back 4 fr. - One rower suffices, unless the traveller is pressed for time; a second may be dismissed with the words 'basta uno!' When travellers are not numerous, the boatmen readily reduce their demands. Those who wish to ascertain beforehand what they will have to pay, should put the following question: Quanto volete per una corsa d'un ora (di due ore)? Siamo due (tre, quattro) persone. E troppo, vi daro un franco (due franchi etc.). On paying the fare, it is usual to give an additional 'buonamano' of 12 fr. or 1 fr. according to the length of the excursion.

The Lake of Como (699 ft.; greatest depth 1929 ft.), Ital. Lago di Como or Il Lario, the Lacus Larius of the Romans, extolled by Virgil (Georg. II. 159), is in the estimation of many the most beautiful of the lakes of N. Italy. Its length from Como to its most N. extremity is 30 M., from the Punta di Bellaggio to Lecco 12 2/3 M.; greatest width between Menaggio and Varenna 2 1/2 M.

Numerous bright villas of the Milanese aristocracy, surrounded by luxuriant gardens and vineyards, are scattered along the banks of the lake. In the forests above, the brilliant green of the chestnut and walnut contrasts strongly with the greyish tints of the olive, which to the unaccustomed eye bears a strong resemblance to the willow. The mountains rise to a height of 7400 ft. The scenery of the lake, as seen from the deck of the steamboat, though on a far grander scale, faintly resembles the Rhine, the banks on both sides being perfectly distinguished by the traveller. At Bellaggio the lake divides into two branches, termed respectively the Lakes of Como and Lecco. The Adda enters at the upper extremity and makes its egress near Lecco. The W. arm, or Lake of Como, has no outlet. - The population of the banks of the lake is of an industrious character, and principally occupied in the production and manufacture of silk. - The Lacus Larius derives a classic interest from its connection with the two Plinies, natives of Como, the elder of whom prosecuted his philosophical researches in the surrounding district. -- The lake abounds in fish; trout of 20 lbs. weight are not unfrequently captured. The 'Agoni' are a small, but palatable variety.

The prospect from the quay at Como is limited, but as soon as the steamer has passed the first promontory on the E. the entire beauty of the lake is disclosed to the view.

Lake of Como. Western Bank.

Villa Raimondi, formerly Odescalchi, the most extensive on the lake, is situated at Borgo Vico, the N.W. suburb of Como. Villa d 'Este (now an hotel), for a considerable period the residence of Queen Caroline (d. 1821), the unfortunate consort of George IV.; Villa Pizzo, formerly belonging to the Archduke Rainer (d. 1853).

Villa Passalacqua, with its numerous windows, resembles a manufactory.

Near Moltrasio is a picturesque waterfall. Carate; in the background rises the Monte Bisbino (4382 ft.). – Villa Colobiano, a green and red structure. The lofty pyramid, with the inscription ‘Joseph Frank’ and a medallion, was erected by a professor of Pavia of that name (d . 1851), grandson of the celebrated physician Peter Frank of Vienna. The professor left the sum of 25,000 fr. for this purpose, from which it may be inferred that he did not do much to merit the remembrance of posterity. - Laglio, with Villa Gaggi, now Antongina.

Villa Galbiati, completed 1855, is gaily painted on the exterior; then Torrigia and Brienno with numerous laurels.

Argegno, at the mouth of the Intelvi Valley.

Sala, with the small island of S. Giovanni, or Comacina, frequently mentioned in the annals of mediæval warfare, once fortified and now occupied by a small church.

Campo lies in a bay formed by the promontory of Lavedo, which here projects far into the lake. On its extremity glitters the Villa Balbianello, with its colonnade, the property of Count Arcomati.

Tremezzo (Albergo Bazzoni) is almost contiguous to Cadenabbia; between them the Villa Carlotta is situated. This district, termed the Tremezzina, is not inaptly called the garden of Lombardy.

Cadenabbia (cà de navia,‘ship -houses') (* Bellevue, R. 2, D. 4, pension 7 fr.; Ville de Milan, formerly Majolica, pension 5-8 fr.; * Belle Ile, moderate), halfway between Como and Colico. In a garden sloping down to the lake, in the midst of lemon and citron trees, stands the celebrated * Villa Carlotta, or Sommariva, from the Count of that name whose property it formerly was. In 1843 it came into the possession of Princess Albert of Prussia, from whose daughter Charlotte (d. 1855) it derives its present appellation. The widower of the latter, Duke George of Saxe-Meiningen, is the present proprietor. Visitors ring at the entrance to the garden and ascend the broad flight of steps, where they are received by the intendant (1 fr., more for a party).

Interior. The Marble Hall contains a frieze decorated with celebrated reliefs by Thorwaldsen, representing the Triumph of Alexander (for which a sum of nearly 15,000 l. was once paid by Count Sommariva); also several statues by Canova (Cupid and Psyche, Magdalene, Palaniedes, Venus, and Paris); bust of Count Sommariva; Mars and Venus, by Acquisti; Cupid giving water to pigeons, by Bienaimé, etc. The Billiard Room contains casts, and a small frieze in marble on the chimney-piece said to be an early work of Thorwaldsen. - In the Garden Saloon several modern pictures, and a marble relief of Napoleon as consul, by Lazzarini.

The Garden (attendant ½ fr.), although less richly stocked than those of Melzi and Serbelloni, may also be visited; pleasant view towards Bellaggio.

Behind the ‘Milan' hotel rises a rock, il Sasso S. Martino, on which stands a small church, Madonna di S. Martino, commanding a beautiful view; ascent 1 1/2 hr., path in some places destroyed by torrents. – The Monte Crocione, a more lofty mountain to the W., commands a striking view of the Monte Rosa chain, the Bernese Alps and Mont Blanc, the lakes and the plain of Lombardy (a fatiguing ascent of 6 — 7 hrs.; guide 5 fr.; in order to avoid the heat the traveller should start at 2 or 3 a.m.).

Here, at the Punta di Bellaggio , the two arms of the lake, the Lago di Como and the Lago di Lecco , unite to form the Lake of Como, properly so called.

Menaggio (Vittoria, new; Corona) possesses an extensive silk-spinning establishment, which visitors are readily admitted. On the lake, S. of the village, the handsome Villa Mylius. A road leads hence to Porlezza on the Lake of Lugano (9 M.; omnibus daily at 11 a.m.). On an eminence (1/2 hr.), near the church of Loveno (*Inn), stands the Villa Vigoni (* view), formerly the property of Herr Mylius, of the fine arts (d. 1845), and the benefactor of the entire neighbourhood, as the monuments to his memory testify. The villa contains some admirable works in marble (Eve, Jesus in the temple, the Finding of Moses, Ruth) by modern Italian sculptors, reliefs by Thorwaldsen (Nemesis, in the temple, erected by Herr Mylius to his son's memory) and Marchesi; in the garden-saloon a *group by Argenti, the proprietress with her children.

The steamer next passes a wild, yellowish-brown cliff, Il Sasso Rancio ('the orange-rock'), which is traversed by a dangerous footpath. This route was undertaken in 1799 by the Russians under General Bellegarde, on which occasion many lives were lost.

S. Abbondio is the next village.

Rezzonico (Raetionicum), with the picturesque ruins of a fortress of the 13th cent.

Cremia with handsome church; then Pianello.

On rocks rising percipitously above Musso are situated the ruins of the Castle of Musso, the count of which after the battle of Pavia (1525) established an independent principality, embracing the entire Lake of Como. Then Dongo, with a monastery. Above it, on the height to the r., lies Garzeno , whence a somewhat neglected path crosses the Passo Jorio to Bellinzona.

Gravedona (Hôtel del Sasso), the most populous village on the lake, is picturesquely situated at the entrance of a gorge. The handsome villa with four towers at the upper extremity was built by the Milanese Cardinal Gallio. The church, dating from the 13th cent., contains two Christian inscriptions of the 5th cent.

Domaso, charmingly situated, possesses several handsome villas, especially Villa Calderara and Villa Lasquez.

Lake of Como, Eastern Bank .

Villa Trubetzkoi, a cottage in an angle near the rock, belongs to a Russian prince of that name; Villa Napoli, a castellated edifice; Villa Taglioni, with a Swiss cottage, formerly the property of the famous danseuse, now belonging to her son-in–law Prince Trubetzkoi; Villa Pasta was the residence of the celebrated, singer (d. 1865); Villa Taverna, formerly Faroni.

Torno is surrounded by villas.

Villa Pliniana at the end of the bay, at the entrance of a narrow gorge, a gloomy square edifice, erected in 1570 by Count Anguissola, one of the four conspirators who assassinated Duke Farnese at Piacenza, now the property of the princess Belgiojoso, whose name figured so conspicuously in the disturbances of 1848. It derives its name of Pliniana from a neighbouring spring which daily changes its level, a peculiarity mentioned by Pliny. Extracts from his works (Epist. IV . 30, Hist. Nat.II, 206) are inscribed on the walls of the court.

Quarsano and Careno.

Nesso, at the foot of the Piano del Tivano (3742 ft.), Nesso Sopra, and Nesso Sotto; near the latter in a rocky gorge is a waterfall of considerable height, frequently dry in summer.

Lezzeno; here the lake is very deep.

Bellaggio (708 ft.) (*Grande Bretagne, *Genazzini, both beautifully situated on the lake; R. 2 1/2, D. 3 1/2 fr., pension 7 fr.; Hôtel Suisse, Hôtel Florence, Ital. style, both also on the lake. Boats, at the W. base of the promontory which separates the two arms of the lake, perhaps the most delightful point on any of the lakes of Upper Italy. To the l., close to the steamboat-pier, is situated the Villa Frizzoni, the property of a wealthy silk-merchant of that name from the Engadine. — A short distance S. of the village is the *Villa Melzi, erected by Albertolli for Count Melzi d'Erile, who was vice-president of the Italian Republic under Napoleon in 1802, and afterwards Duke of Lodi. It now belongs to his grandson the Duca di Melzi, and is hardly less attractive than the Villa Carlotta (intendant 1 fr., more for a party).

Vestibule. Copies of ancient busts in marble by Canova; the mother of Napoleon, by Canova; bust of the present proprietor, portrait busts, etc.; David , by Fraccaroli; Spring, by Pandiani, etc. - The walls of the other apartments are embellished with appropriate frescoes. Thus in the dining-room , genii bringing game, fruit, vegetables, etc.; in the same room a Venus by Pompeo Marchesi, and a bust of Michael Angelo. In the other rooms a portrait of Napoleon I. as the president of the Italian Republic, by Appiani; a Bacchante and a bust of Michael Angelo by Canova.

The *Garden (attendant 1/ 2 fr.) exhibits all the luxuriance and fragrance of Southern vegetation (magnificent magnolias, camellias, cedars, Chinese pines, gigantic aloes, etc.). – The Chapel in the garden contains monuments in marble to the two former proprietors, and to the mother of the present duke, by Nessi. In another part of the garden Dante and Beatrice, by Comolli.

Higher up stands the *Villa Serbelloni; the building itself has more the character of an old farm-house than a ducal residence, but the **view from the park , which extends to the extremity of the wooded promontory, is magnificent. It extends over the lake in both directions, and embraces the Lake of Lecco; this is generally considered the finest view on the lake. Charming glimpses of Varenna, Villa Balbianello, Carlotta, etc. (fee 1/2 fr. to each attendant, for a party more). At the entrance of the park and at the hotels, small objects taste fully manufactured in olive-wood are sold as souvenirs. A short distance S. of this, in the direction of the Lake of Lecco, is the Villa Giulia (beautiful flowers), the property of King Leopold of Belgium. Adjacent to the latter is the Villa Paldi. - Excursion to Monte S . Primo.

Here, at the Punta di Bellaggio , the two arms of the lake, the Lago di Como and the Lago di Lecco , unite to form the Lake of Como, properly so called.

Varenna (*Albergo Reale) is charmingly situated. In the vicinity, especially towards the N., are some remarkable galleries in the rock on the Stelvio route. Most of the marble quarried in the neighbourhood is cut and polished in the town,

About 3/4 M. to the S. of Varenna is the cascade of the Fiume Latte ('milk brook’, from its colour), which is precipitated in several leaps from a height of 900 ft., and contains an imposing volume of water in the spring.

The Torre di Vezio situated still higher commands a noble prospect.

Gittana is the station for the hydropathic establishment of Regoledo (pension 6 fr., 'per le operationi idropatiche' 2 fr.); donkey from Gittana to Regoledo 1 fr., horse or chaise-à–porteurs 2 fr.

Bellano lies at the base of Monte Grigna (7136 ft.), at the mouth of the Pioverna, the valley of which extends to the neighborhood of Lecco, and contains flourishing iron-works.

Dervio, at the mouth of the Varrone, is situated at the base of the abrupt Monte Legnone (8559 ft.) and its spur Monte Legnoncino (4947 ft.). Corenno and Dorio are the following villages.

Colico (Albergo Piazza Garibaldi, on the lake; Isola Bella; both in the Italian style), comp. p. 49. The Monte Legnone, mentioned above, may be ascended hence without difficulty in 7 - 8 hrs.

From Colico to Chiavenna Swiss diligence (also an omnibus, 2 1/2 fr .) twice daily in 3 hrs.; thence daily (twice in summer) over the Splügen to Coire (R. 5) in 13 1/2 hrs.

From Colico to Sondrio in the Val Tellina diligence twice daily in 5 hrs., also an omnibus (comp. pp. 49, 57).

Lake of Lecco.

From Bellaggio to Lecco and back steamboat 3 times weekly.

The S.E. arm of the Lake of Como is worthy of a visit , although inferior in attraction to the other parts. Lecco is charmingly situated . The E. bank of the lake is so precipitous that it was formerly traversed by a path for goat-herds only, but in 1832 a road was constructed on it with the aid of embankments , tunnels, and galleries. Three of the latter near Olcio are together 1000 yds. in length . It affords admirable views of the lake.

After the steamer has steered round the Punta di Bellaggio, the Villa Giulia is left on the r.; adjoining it is Visgnola; farther on, Limonta; on the opposite (1 ) bank Lierna and Sornico, r. Onno, 1. Olcio, then Mandello on an flat tongue of land . Opposite the latter is the market- town of Parè, separated from Malgrate by the promontory of S. Dionigio. Malgrate itself lies at the entrance of the Val Madrera, through which the road by Erba to Como leads. The lake here gradually contracts to form the Adda, by which river it is drained . A stone bridge of ten arches, Il Ponte Grande, leads to Lecco , on the opposite bank; it was constructed in 1335 by Azzone Visconti, and furnished with fortified towers at the extremities. Fine view of the town from the bridge.

Lecco (Albergo d ' Italia ; Croce di Malta ; Leone d 'Oro ) is an industrial town with 8000 inhab., possessing silk, cotton, and iron manufactories, situated at the S. extremity of the E. arm of the Lake of Como, and admirably described in Manzoni's ' Promessi Sposi. ' Pleasant walks to the height of Castello and the pilgrimage-church on the Monte Baro (view of the Brianza) .

A short distance below Lecco the Adda again expands into the Lago di Garlate, and  further down, into the small Lago di Olgirate. A navigable canal connects Trezzo with Milan. From Lecco to Milan railway by Bergamo in 3 hrs..