My Kind of Place: Como, Italy

Charming cafes, cobbled streets and the lake make Como a great romantic getaway.

Lake Como is surrounded by Alpine hills and its shores are dotted with beautiful villas and resorts that regularly host royalty and celebrities. Courtesy Frank Fell
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Why Como?
Located on the southern edge of Lake Como and close to the Alps, the town that gives its name to the lake, Como, is one of northern Italy's most popular tourist destinations. And rightly so. The town of 80,000 inhabitants offers its visitors a spectacular surrounding landscape and a charming old town with narrow streets lined with cosy cafes and shops.
The hills around Lake Como are home to many luxurious villas and several international celebrities are known to live or spend some time there every year, including George Clooney and Madonna.
Besides having beautiful surroundings, Como is the centre of the Italian silk industry. Fashion houses in Italy and abroad, such as Saint Laurent and Ungaro, rely on Como's manufacturers for their silk products. Shoppers can buy silk scarves, ties and blouses at several outlets in and near Como at cheaper prices than elsewhere in Europe. The Silk Museum in Como gives an insight into how silk is produced (
A comfortable bed
Hotel Metropole Suisse (; 0039 031 269 444; double rooms from ?165 [Dh827] per night) is a four-star, upscale hotel and one of the city's landmark buildings. Many of the hotel's 70 rooms offer great views of the lake and several rooms also have balconies. The classic decor makes it a good choice for a romantic getaway.
Posta Design Hotel (; 0039 031 276 9011; double rooms from ?170 [Dh852] per night) is a boutique design hotel with only 14 rooms and contemporary minimal interiors. It is located on Piazza Volta, a lively square with cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating. The hotel is only a two-minute walk from the lake.
Find your feet
From the park situated at the end of Via Cavallotti, head to one of Como's main sightseeing spots: Tempio Voltiano, a temple now turned into a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electric battery, who was born in Como in 1745. Only a few steps away from the museum, a stroll on the lake bridge Diga Piero Foranea Caldirola, makes for some entertaining boat watching. From there, carry on walking along the lakeside promenade, which is officially called Passeggiata Amici di Como and is open daily from 8am to midnight.
A stroll from the lakefront square Piazza Cavour to Piazza San Fedele will allow you to discover the charm of Como's "Contrada", the city's narrow pedestrian streets. The streets still carry their old names such as Contrada de' Dottori, Contrada Ruscona and Contrada della Terrazza. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
Meet the locals
Coin is a five-floor shopping department located only a few metres away from Como's main cathedral. Although the store itself does not have the most attractive interiors, there's a gem on the top floor: Loft Como, a cafe with a superb view of the cathedral and the town's rooftops ( The cafe is open from morning till evening and is a particularly pleasant spot for breakfast on the sunny terrace. A cappuccino costs ?3 (Dh15), a croissant ?1 (Dh5).
Book a table
Don Lisander ( is a pizzeria located near the lake and counts among Como's oldest restaurants. It has indoor seating and cosy wooden interiors. In addition to its pizza menu, Don Lisander serves a typical Italian antipasti buffet and other national dishes. A simple Pizza Margherita topped with mozzarella and tomato sauce costs ?6 (Dh30), while pizzas with multiple toppings cost between ?9 and ?12 (Dh45 to Dh60).
An ideal spot for an informal lunch with lake view is Pasticceria Monti, which is located on the city's popular lakefront square Piazza Cavour. The cafe is open daily from 7am till midnight and serves a wide range of sandwiches and salads. A caprese salad costs ?9 (Dh45).
Shopper's paradise
Italy is a paradise for food lovers and Como's cobblestone streets are lined with independent shops selling produce from different Italian regions and other countries. Head to Caffé Maya for coffee beans, Le Chicche for a wide assortment of sweets, and Bottega del Gusto for typical Italian produce: pasta, balsamic vinegar and much more. Tea World ( sells a variety of tea blends from around the world, including Taiwanese oolong tea and Chinese white tea.
What to avoid
In the winter, Como gets a little quiet and many tourist services are interrupted because of the low season. It is advisable to check in advance what's running and what's not to avoid disappointment.
Don't miss
The Como-Brunate funicular railway takes you from the city centre of Como to Brunate, a town overlooking Como with a population of around 1,800. The line is over one-kilometre long and the upper station offers panoramic views of Como and its lake.
Go there
A return flight with Etihad (; 02 599 0000) from Abu Dhabi to nearby Milan's Malpensa Airport costs around Dh2,200, including tax. Como is a 35-minute train ride from Milan city centre on the Eurocity (; a one-way ticket costs ?13 [Dh65]).
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