Subject: Re: Lake Como region, Italy
Hi Megan,

I've been living 20 Kilometers southeast of Como, for the last 50 years.

The lake is gorgeous, some villages are worth a stroll, and you would like Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo (especially in azalea flowering season, late April). An intersting and little known spot is the orrido in Bellano(Near Varenna). This is a stream gorge, definitely an amazing one. I've visited several of these natural attractions in Switzerland, Austria, etc. but only the gorges of the Aare (Aareschlucht)

in Meiringen are more impressing . Bellagio is very nice, but I'm afraid its importance has been a bit overstressed since it was recreated in Las Vegas. All of the sights are delicious if the weather is good, but sadly they loose much of their charm if it rains !

All this said, and coming to your parents' plans , it's nonsense to me giving 4 nights to Rome and the same number of nights to the Lake of Como, unless they're absolutely uninterested in art and history.

I would spend 2, maximum 3 nights in Bellagio which is central to the lake and a 10 minutes ferry hop from Varenna.
>From Bellagio a half day tour (let's say from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m by aliscafo (overcraft) will allow enough time to see Villa Carlotta and especially to watch the many magnificent villas from the lake and not from the road, whence almost nothing can be spotted. This could include a short walk in compact Como center maybe for shopping. The other half day can be devoted to a royal breakfast in the hotel ( if they can afford luxury hotels in Bellagio) , and quietly visiting Bellagio itself.

Even if they want to use this area for one more day to be devoted to a day trip, believe me, let them leave Venezia for another time. It would be just tiring to do it as a day trip. Bergamo, which was mentioned by Linda, is a much more reasonable goal.

Picking up a rental car (not necessary for visiting the lake, but I mean for the trip to Pienza), would be easy in Como or Milan (or maybe in Lecco station). Driving from Como to Pienza is doable in one day, though not a short drive. Most of the drive would be on motorways. Pienza area is fantastic (better than Como lake, and the food is great...). I wish them a good trip here in Italy.

Leonardo Besana in Brianza, Italy