- Real estate Lake Como & Italian Lakes homes
Real estate Lake Como & Italian Lakes homes
● Six major lakes ● Breathtaking views ● Close reach of Alps ski resorts
In 1818 the poet Lord Shelley wrote how Lake Como “exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty”. The author Henry James was similarly awestruck as he said: “One can’t describe the beauty of the Italian Lakes, nor would one try if one could. ”. Lake Como has attracted the world’s rich and famous for around 2,000 years. Below is our stunning selection of homes by Lake Como real estate agents.
Northern Italy’s main lakes – Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Lake Iseo and Lake Garda – still inspire breathless awe and adulation nearly two centuries on.
George Clooney was so bowled over that when he wanted to find a property for sale in Italy he settled here, where he now owns an € 8million villa in Laglio on Lake Como’s shores. However, you don’t need a movie star’s bank balance to invest in Lake Como real estate – a one or two-bedroom apartment with views of the lake can be picked up from €125,000 at 2010-11 prices. If you are happy with a fixer-upper as an even cheaper option, €50,000 can get you a Lake Como home to restore.
So idyllic is Lake Como that scenes from Star Wars epic Attack of the Clones and James Bond film Casino Royale were shot here. The lake has an inverted Y-shape, extending from Gera Lario Alps in the north to Como, at the bottom of one leg, and Lecco, at the foot of the other, both around 40 miles north of Milan.
Lake Como is Europe’s deepest lake and Italy’s third largest after Lake Garda and Lake Verbano, yet its shores are never more than 2¾ miles apart, lending it a cosy intimate feel. The scenery is majestic along Lake Como’s entire 110-mile perimeter, but perhaps nowhere more so than at its centre, around the triangle formed by Varenna, Menaggio and Bellagio, at the confluence of the three legs.
One of the most idyllic spots in which to look for Italian lakes property is Bellagio, also known as la perla del lago (the pearl of the lake). Many will swear to you it is Europe’s prettiest town. Approach by ferry, the Alps rising majestically before you, and you would be hard pressed to disagree.
Other beautiful villages along the water’s banks that also make for a perfect setting for Lake Como property include Colico, Tremezzo, Mandello del Lario and Varenna. The latter has an 800ft Fiumelatte (milk river) that runs into the lake – but only between March and October. It is a curio that remains a mystery to this day.
For a truly dizzying view, take the seven-minute funicular ride to Brunate, on a hill some 2,400ft above Como. The track negotiates angles of up to 55 degrees, so it’s not for the fainthearted. The view at the top more than makes up for it though, as you gaze over seven lakes and as far afield as the Alps and Switzerland.
Lake Maggiore also boasts stunning views from its entire perimeter but the western shore, from Cannobio in the north to Arona, is the more popular with visitors. This side of the lake is dotted with picturesque towns and villages and sprawling villas and gardens, but the heart of Lake Maggiore is undoubtedly Stresa, overlooking the Borromeo Gulf. Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens and Lord Byron are just some of the famous names to have sung its praises.
Among the most popular excursions from Stresa are the regular ferry trips to the three Borromee isles – Isola Madre, Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori, the smallest of the three and home to just 50 people. A couple of miles north of Stresa is Verbania, behind which lies Val Grande National Park, one of Europe’s largest wilderness areas.
Sirmione, Desenzano, Riva del Garda, Malcesine…like most of Northern Italy’s lakes, the towns and villages on Lake Garda’s banks have attracted foreign visitors for thousands of years. Arguably the pick of the bunch is Sirmione, on Lake Garda’s southern shores, which is at the end of a long promontory. Its most notable features are the Rocca Scaligera moated castle and, at the end of the peninsula, the remains of a grand Roman villa which visitors can traipse through.
Lake Orta is for those who would rather shy away from the crowds that flock to the larger lakes. It is the only one of Northern Italy’s lakes that can be taken in at a single glance. Its principal resort is Orta San Giulio on the eastern shore, a town so picturesque it is a favourite for magazine photoshoots, weddings and Italian lakes property.
It is squeezed between the better-known Lake Garda and Lake Como but it is a great destination for intrepid travellers who want to veer off the beaten track. In the middle of it sits Isola San Giulio, the largest island of any European lake. Lake Iseo is also popular with investors looking to buy Italian Lakes property at a bargain. A small apartment with terrace and/or garden with lake view can go for as little as €120,000.