Lake Como (Italian: Lago di Como [ˈlaːɡo di ˈkɔːmo], locally [ˈkoːmo]; Western Lombard: Lagh de Còmm [ˈlɑː‿dːe ˈkɔm],[a] Cómm [ˈkom] or Cùmm [ˈkum]), also known as Lario (Italian: [ˈlaːrjo]; after the Latin: Larius Lacus), is a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy.

Lake Como
Panoramic view of Lake Como with the Alps and Bellagio
Lake Como is located in Lombardy
Lake Como
Lake Como
LocationLombardy, Italy
Coordinates46°00′N 9°16′E / 46.000°N 9.267°E / 46.000; 9.267
Primary inflowsAdda, Mera
Primary outflowsAdda
Catchment area4,509 km2 (1,741 sq mi)[1]
Basin countriesItaly, Switzerland
Max. length46 km (29 mi)
Max. width4.5 km (2.8 mi)
Surface area146 km2 (56 sq mi)
Average depth154 m (505 ft)[1]
Max. depth425 m (1,394 ft)
Water volume22.5 km3 (18,200,000 acre⋅ft)
Residence time5.5 years[1]
Shore length1160 km (99 mi)
Surface elevation198 m (650 ft)[1]
IslandsIsola Comacina
SettlementsComo, Lecco (see section)
References[1]
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

It has an area of 146 square kilometres (56 sq mi), making it the third-largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 400 metres (1,300 ft) deep, it is the fifth deepest lake in Europe and the deepest outside Norway; the bottom of the lake is 227 metres (745 ft) below sea level. One notable characteristic is its distinctive "Y" shape.

Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times, and a very popular tourist attraction with many artistic and cultural gems. It has many villas and palaces such as Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni, and Villa Carlotta. Many famous people have owned homes on the shores of Lake Como. This includes George Clooney, Madonna, and Donatella Versace.

In 2014, The Huffington Post described it as the most beautiful lake in the world for its microclimate and environment with prestigious villas and villages.[2]

Etymology edit

The lake's official name is Lario (derived from the Latin Larius), but it is rarely used informally, while it is still used in formal language; it is also found in the toponym of some villages along the lake such as Pognana Lario and Mandello del Lario; Italians usually call it Lago di Como.

Geography edit

 
Aerial photograph of Lake Como, showing its distinctive three-armed shape

The lake is shaped much like an inverted letter "Y". The northern branch begins at the town of Colico, while the towns of Como and Lecco sit at the ends of the southwestern and southeastern branches respectively. The small towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna are situated at the intersection of the three branches of the lake: a boat service operates a triangular route between them.[3]

Lake Como is fed primarily by the Adda, which enters the lake near Colico and flows out at Lecco. This geological conformation makes the southwestern branch a dead end, and so Como, unlike Lecco, is sometimes flooded.

The mountainous pre-alpine territory between the two southern arms of the lake (between Como, Bellagio, and Lecco) is known as the Larian Triangle,[4] or Triangolo lariano. The source of the river Lambro is here. At the centre of the triangle, the town of Canzo is the seat of the Comunità Montana del Triangolo lariano, an association of the 31 municipalities that represent the 71,000 inhabitants of the area.

Climate edit

Lake Como
Climate chart (explanation)
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
 
 
79
 
 
6
−2
 
 
74
 
 
8
−1
 
 
109
 
 
13
4
 
 
157
 
 
17
7
 
 
201
 
 
23
12
 
 
175
 
 
27
16
 
 
137
 
 
30
19
 
 
173
 
 
29
19
 
 
160
 
 
23
13
 
 
147
 
 
19
9
 
 
127
 
 
12
4
 
 
66
 
 
9
2
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Imperial conversion
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
3.1
 
 
43
28
 
 
2.9
 
 
46
30
 
 
4.3
 
 
55
39
 
 
6.2
 
 
63
45
 
 
7.9
 
 
73
54
 
 
6.9
 
 
81
61
 
 
5.4
 
 
86
66
 
 
6.8
 
 
84
66
 
 
6.3
 
 
73
55
 
 
5.8
 
 
66
48
 
 
5
 
 
54
39
 
 
2.6
 
 
48
36
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

According to the Köppen climate classification, the Lake Como area is categorized as humid subtropical climate; average temperatures range from 4 °C (39 °F) in January to 25 °C (77 °F) in July.[5] Water temperatures reach an average of 26 °C (79 °F) in July.[6]

  • Winter - The lake helps to maintain a mild average temperature (7°C/45°F)[7] in the surrounding region; snowfall is erratic and occurs mainly at higher elevations; from time to time, periods of frost from the Siberian Anticyclone have been observed.
  • Spring and Autumn - These seasons are well marked and pleasant, with average daytime temperatures around 21°C/70°F,[8][9] and are distinguished by increased precipitation.
  • Summer - During this season average daytime temperatures hover above 27°C/80°F[10] and heatwaves have been recurring in recent years with temperatures reaching as high as 38°C/100°F, so summer can be quite hot and muggy. This season is also subject to thunderstorms and, at times, violent hailstorms.[11]

Climate change edit

Until the late 20th century winters used to be quite snowy and cold, with average daily temperatures well below freezing in January and February;[12] however, due to global warming, average temperatures in winter have gradually risen since the turn of the 21th century, reaching a record high of 21 degrees Celsius (70 °F) on January 27, 2024;[13][14] until the late 2000s summers as well used to be distinguished by pleasant climate but since the 2010s average temperatures have been costantly rising and once rare severe weather events, such as rainstorms and hailstorms, have been happening with increased frequency.[15][16]

Climate data for Lake Como
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 21
(70)
22
(72)
24
(75)
26
(79)
31
(88)
37
(99)
38
(100)
37
(99)
31
(88)
25
(77)
22
(72)
21
(70)
38
(100)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 6
(43)
8
(46)
13
(55)
17
(63)
23
(73)
27
(81)
30
(86)
29
(84)
23
(73)
19
(66)
12
(54)
9
(48)
18
(64)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −2
(28)
−1
(30)
4
(39)
7
(45)
12
(54)
16
(61)
19
(66)
19
(66)
13
(55)
9
(48)
4
(39)
2
(36)
9
(47)
Record low °C (°F) −18
(0)
−16
(3)
−11
(12)
−5
(23)
−1
(30)
3
(37)
7
(45)
5
(41)
4
(39)
−3
(27)
−9
(16)
−10
(14)
−18
(0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 79
(3.1)
74
(2.9)
109
(4.3)
157
(6.2)
201
(7.9)
175
(6.9)
137
(5.4)
173
(6.8)
160
(6.3)
147
(5.8)
127
(5.0)
66
(2.6)
1,605
(63.2)
Average precipitation days 9 8 10 12 13 11 8 9 8 10 11 9 118
Average relative humidity (%) (daily average) 84 76 69 74 72 71 73 72 74 81 85 86 76
Mean monthly sunshine hours 59 97 151 176 209 242 285 253 187 129 65 58 1,911
Average ultraviolet index 1 2 3 5 7 8 8 7 5 3 2 1 4
Source 1: [17]
Source 2: [18]

History edit

At the beginning of the first millennium B.C. during the Iron Age, the Comum oppidum was born and the civilization of Como developed, inserted in the broader Golasecca culture. In 196 B.C. the army of the consul Claudius Marcellus defeats the Celts tribe of the Comenses and conquers the city. Comum was then strengthened and rebuilt after a raid by Rhaetian and repopulated with 3,000 settlers in 77 BC. Finally, after having reclaimed the marshy area, in 59 B.C. it was re-founded with the name of Novum Comun in its current location on the lake shore at the behest of Gaius Julius Caesar.[19] Pliny the Younger, in one of his Epistulae, describes the lake and its surrounding area as providing plentiful opportunities for fishing and hunting.[20] According to the Notitia Dignitatum, at least since the 4th century, a Praefectus commanding a Roman military fleet was present on the lake.[21]

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the waters of the lake were the scene of military clashes, such as in the 12th century during the war of Milan against Como, which saw the Como fleet in action against the ships of the Milanese and their allies or between 1525 and 1532 due to the Musso war unleashed by Gian Giacomo Medici.[22]

On 28 April 1945, deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was executed in the lakeside village of Giulino, about 180 metres (590 ft) from the waterfront.

Tourism and Economy edit

As a tourist destination, Lake Como is popular for its landscapes, wildlife, and spas.[23] It is a venue for sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.[24]

Although generally considered safe, bathers aiming to find relief from the heat and swimming enthusiasts alike should exercise caution, as a prevailing regulation prohibits diving and swimming both in the city of Como and in the various small villages along the lake. Exceptions are found only in privately managed lidos or designated public beaches where explicit signage permits swimming activities. This prohibition stems from the danger posed by the lake's waters that swiftly transition from shallow to deep near the shoreline and from unpredictable aquatic conditions, which have led to numerous incidents, including drowning cases attributed to sudden thermal shock.[25][26][27][28]

 
A dock in Viale Geno, Como

In the area surrounding Lake Como, there are several farms which produce goods such as honey, olive oil, cheese, milk, eggs and salamis. Visitors can find lists of these farms and typically visit the farm itself in person to make their purchases.[29]

Lakeside villas edit

 
Villa Olmo in Como
 
Villa Carlotta
 
Villa Melzi d'Eril
 
The Lake Como waterfront at sunset, Varenna.
 
Villa del Balbianello
 
Lake Como from lakeside villa

The lake is well known for the attractive villas that have been built there since Roman times when Pliny the Younger built the Comedia and the Tragedia resorts. Many villas on the lake shores have admirable gardens that benefit from the mild climate induced by the stabilizing presence of 22.5 cubic kilometres (5.4 cu mi) of lake water and can sustain many subtropical and Mediterranean plants.

Villa Carlotta was built for the Milanese Marquis Giorgio Clerici in 1690 and occupies a site of over 7 hectares (17 acres) at Tremezzo, facing the Bellagio peninsula. An Italian garden (with steps, fountains, and sculptures) was laid out at the same time. The villa was later sold to powerful banker and Napoleonic politician Giovanni Battista Sommariva. Stendhal was his guest in 1818, and his visit is recalled at the start of La Chartreuse de Parme. In 1843 it was purchased by Princess Marianne of Nassau as a wedding present for her daughter Carlotta, after whom the villa is now named. The latter, together with her husband Georg II of Saxen-Meiningen, laid out the woodland landscape park in Romantic style. The villa today includes a museum of agricultural implements as well as important works of sculpture by Sommariva's friend Antonio Canova and by Luigi Acquisti.[30]

Villa d'Este, in Cernobbio, was built in 1568 by Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, a native of the town. In 1816–1817 the villa was home to Caroline of Brunswick, estranged wife of the Prince of Wales and shortly to become Queen Consort of King George IV of the United Kingdom. The landscaped gardens in the English style are a product of this period. Later in the century, it was turned into a luxury hotel. Today the Villa d'Este is known for attracting celebrity guests.[citation needed]

Villa del Balbianello, famous for its elaborate terraced gardens, lies on a promontory of the western shore of the lake near Isola Comacina. Built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery, it was the home of explorer Guido Monzino and today houses a museum devoted to his work.[citation needed]

Villa Melzi d'Eril in Bellagio was built in neo-classical style by architect Giocondo Albertolli in 1808–1810 as the summer residence of Duke Francesco Melzi d'Eril, who was vice-president of the Napoleonic Italian Republic. The park includes an orangery, a private chapel, fine statues, and a Japanese garden, and is planted, as often on Lake Como, with huge rhododendrons. 19th-century guests at the Villa included Stendhal and Franz Liszt.[31]

Villa Serbelloni, also in Bellagio, hosts the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, a 50-acre (200,000 m2) international conference centre set up and managed by the Rockefeller Foundation since 1959, which also operates a "scholar-in-residence" program for scholars from around the world. This is believed to have been the site of Pliny the Younger's villa "Tragedia". Its well-known park was created at the end of the 18th century by Alessandro Serbelloni.[citation needed]

Many famous people have or have had homes on the shores of Lake Como, such as Matthew Bellamy, John Kerry, Madonna, George Clooney,[32] Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho, Sylvester Stallone, Julian Lennon, Richard Branson, Ben Spies, Pierina Legnani, Lionel Messi and José Mourinho.

Transportation edit

Lake Como is served by a public transport system connecting the various villages on the Lake. A motorized service began in 1826 when a steamship with sails, the Lario, was launched by the newly established Società privilegiata per l'impresa dei battelli a vapore nel Regno Lombardo Veneto. Since 1952 the fleet has been managed by a government organisation named Gestione Commissariale Governativa and later Gestione Governativa Navigazione Laghi, which is also responsible for transport services on Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda.[33][34]

There exist three primary services:

  • Motorship services along the western branch and north towards Colico and back to Como, with additional shuttles to the mid-lake area;
  • Fast services that broadly follow the same route but with fewer stops; the service, which is more expensive, is operated by hydrofoils;
  • Ferries able to carry passengers and cars across the popular tourist destinations Menaggio, Bellagio,Varenna and Cadenabbia.[35]
The paddle steamer Concordia and the car ferry Plinio

Sacro Monte di Ossuccio edit

 
Chapel 5 of Sacro Monte di Ossuccio. Disputation with the Doctors

The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio ("Holy Mount of Ossuccio") is a sanctuary located on a hillside slope between olive groves and woods along the western edge of Lake Como facing Isola Comacina. Fifteen Baroque-inspiredchapels, built between 1635 and 1710, and dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary are dotted along the way that leads to the Monastery. This building is the last in the chain and is dedicated to the Coronation of the Virgin.

In 2003, the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, including that of Ossuccio, were added by UNESCO to the World Heritage List.

Villages, resorts, and other notable localities near the lake edit

 
The Parco Meier, a public garden at Tremezzo
 
Menaggio from Lake Como
Cities and villages on Lake Como
Western shore
from North to South
South shore
from West to East
Eastern shore
from North to South

In literature and the arts edit

Gallery edit

Panoramic view of Lake Como.
The lake seen from the city of Como.
The lake seen from Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, near its centre.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e "Laghi italiani". Istituto Italiano di Idrobiologia. Archived from the original on 2010-02-05. Retrieved 2006-11-17.
  2. ^ "The World's 20 Most Beautiful Lakes". The Huffington Post. 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Lake Como, Italy: the best things to do". Lake Como Travel.
  4. ^ The meaning of Larian is "related to the Lake Como", since the Latin name of Lake Como was Larius. So, the expression Triangolo lariano, or, in English, Larian Triangle, means exactly "Lake Como Triangle" or "Triangle of the Lake Como".
  5. ^ "Average Weather in Como". weatherspark.com.
  6. ^ "Water temperature in Lake Como in July". Seatemperature.info. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  7. ^ "Historical Weather in Winter 2023 in Como". weatherspark.com.
  8. ^ "Historical Weather in Spring 2023 in Como". weatherspark.com.
  9. ^ "Historical Weather in Fall 2023 in Como". weatherspark.com.
  10. ^ "Historical Weather in Summer 2023 in Como". weatherspark.com.
  11. ^ "Nubifragio, raffiche di vento a 100 km/h, grandine come palline da golf" (in Italian). quicomo.it. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  12. ^ "Historical Weather in February 1987 in Como". weatherspark.com.
  13. ^ "Historical Weather". weatherspark.com.
  14. ^ "Caldo Natale sul lago di Como, il termometro sfiora i 20 gradi: colpa del Foehn" (in Italian). informazione.it. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  15. ^ "Lake Como bursts its banks as violent storm pounds Northern Italy". CNN. 31 October 2023.
  16. ^ "Lake Como towns hit by extreme weather". Associated Press. 27 July 2021.
  17. ^ "Historical Weather". weatherspark.com. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  18. ^ "Como Climate". Weather-atlas.com. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  19. ^ lakecomotravel.com. "COMO HISTORY". lakecomotravel.com. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  20. ^ Pliny the Younger. Epistulae II.8.
  21. ^ Brogiolo, Gian Pietro; Gelichi, Sauro (1996). Nuove ricerche sui castelli altomedievali in Italia settentrionale [New research on early medieval castles in northern Italy] (in Italian). Firenze: All'Insegna del Giglio. p. 40. ISBN 978-8878141070. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  22. ^ Romanoni, Fabio (2023). La guerra d'acqua dolce. Navi e conflitti medievali nell'Italia settentrionale. Bologna: Clueb. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-88-31365-53-6. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  23. ^ Lake Como holidays, inghams.com, April 20, 2010
  24. ^ 2006 Kiteboard Pro World Tour event, Lake Como, Italiaspeed.com, June 6, 2006
  25. ^ "National football player drowns in Lake Como". Swiss Info. Retrieved 2023-08-18.
  26. ^ "A terrible year with many victims of the depths during summer". La Provincia di Como. Retrieved 2023-08-18.
  27. ^ "Girl who drowned in Lake Como named". Ansa. Retrieved 2023-08-18.
  28. ^ "slips off an inflatable and drowns". Italy 24 news. Retrieved 2023-08-18.
  29. ^ "Directly from the producer - Lago di Como". www.lakecomo.it. Archived from the original on 2017-09-04. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  30. ^ See Infoparchi, Villa Carlotta; Villacarlotta.it, Villa Carlotta; Macadam, Alta
  31. ^ See Infoparchi, Villa Melzi.
  32. ^ "Lifeinitaly.com". Archived from the original on 2009-11-06.
  33. ^ Massimo Gozzi, "History of Navigation on Lake Como" Archived 2009-10-15 at the Wayback Machine, Gestione Governativa Navigazione Laghi, 2007, pp 1–2.
  34. ^ "General Management" Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine, Gestione Governativa Navigazione Laghi, 2007.
  35. ^ "'Autumn Timetable 2009' Gestione Governativa Navigazione Laghi". Archived from the original on 2010-03-16.
  36. ^ Landon, Letitia Elizabeth (1836). "picture". Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837. Fisher, Son & Co.Landon, Letitia Elizabeth (1836). "poetical illustration". Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837. Fisher, Son & Co.
  37. ^ Francis W Halsey, ed. (1914). Seeing Europe with Famous Authors. Vol. VIII. Funk & Wagnells.

Notes edit

  1. ^ In isolation, lagh is pronounced [ˈlɑːk].

Further reading edit

External links edit