7 unique things to do in Como

by Andrea Gambaro  |  Published January 31, 2019

Culinary treats, ancient shops, local history, unexpected finds and dreamlike settings along the lake. Here we list seven unique things to do in and around Como.

The Duomo di Como (Photo: Pedro via Flickr)

Located at the south-western edge of the world-famous lake that takes its name, Como offers visitors impressive monuments, architectural gems, handicraft traditions and a rich local history. While exploring them, the stunning views over the lake are both a charming backdrop and a constant temptation to get out of the city and discover the surrounding lakefront.

Walk through town with a local guide

Among the many tours available in Como, a guided walk in the historic centre will be the best way to get acquainted with the town. The tour operated by Mondo Turistico starts from the lakefront and follows an itinerary where visitors learn all about the history of the city, its architecture, the beautiful Cathedral and the treasures it contains, and the scientist from Como who invented the electrical battery. Mondo Turistico also runs many other tours, which are held by certified guides and available in many languages.

Meeting point – Piazza Cavour (by Hotel Barchetta), Como 22100

The view from Brunate, connected to Como by a funicular railway (Photo: Mondo Turistico)

Surround yourself with luxury at Villa Serbelloni

Blissfully located in Bellagio, where the two branches of Lake Como come together, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni has been delivering the highest standards of hospitality for over a century. The villa was turned into a luxury hotel in 1873 and then purchased by the Bucher family, who celebrate 100 years of management in 2018. In addition to the award-winning hotel, Villa Serbelloni has a Michelin-starred kitchen specialising in molecular cuisine and a more informal restaurant inspired by the lake’s boats. Plan a stay at the hotel to be pampered by lakeside luxury and impeccable service, or book a table at one of the restaurants for a quicker visit.

Via Roma 1, Bellagio (Como) 22021

Lakeside luxury (Photo: G.H. Villa Serbelloni)

Find your silk souvenir in a historic shop

If silk is one of Como’s prides, A. Picci is where it is finely presented in the form of hand-sewn ties, scarves, throws, handkerchiefs, sarongs and other accessories. This family-run shop was opened in 1919 by Anna Brambilla and Luigi Picci, the grandparents of current owner Fabio. Three generations later, it still represents the encounter between the finest fabrics and the local textile expertise, where tradition and innovation go hand in hand. Nominated ‘historic shop’ in 2012, A. Picci is the place to go for a truly made-in-Como souvenir.

Via Vittorio Emanuele II 54, Como 22100

A. Picci was nominated historic shop in 2012 (Photo: A. Picci)

Try the local taverns

Locally-known for its rustic yet elegant ambience, Crotto del Sergente offers a fine dining experience rooted in the tradition of the Como area. It’s an ancient tavern dating back to the 18th-century, where vintage interiors and decor add character to the warm and informal atmosphere. The menu changes constantly, revealing a creative approach that seeks to enhance local produce and recipes with a modern touch. The wine cellar features wines from all over Italy, although the focus is on the local area.

Via Crotto del Sergente 13, Como 22100

The rustic interior of Crotto del Sergente (Photo: Crotto del Sergente)

Discover the local museums

The Educational Silk Museum honours the heritage of the textile industry that once thrived in this area, making Como known as the “city of silk”. Cycling is also rooted in the local culture, and the Ghisallo Cycling Museum (a 50-minute drive from Como) tells the story of this sport and its connection with the local area. The lakeside village of Dongo (a one-hour drive from Como) is where Benito Mussolini was captured on 27 April 1945, a day before being executed; today it is home to the End of War Museum, an interactive journey through the liberation of Italy from Nazi-Fascism.

Educational Silk Museum – Via Castelnuovo 9, Como 22100

Ghisallo Cycling Museum – Via Gino Bartali 4, Magreglio (Como) 22030

End Of War Museum – Piazza Paracchini 6, Dongo (Como) 22014

Visit a contemporary artist’s studio

Mr. Savethewall (Pierpaolo Perretta) is a local artist who works with urban material and consumer goods to address themes and contradictions related to contemporary society. The pseudonym comes from the beginnings of his artistic practice, as his early works used to be attached to the walls of Como with yellow tape (hence ‘save the wall’, rather than ‘paint the wall’). Passersby were free to take them, drawing attention to the artist’s method, techniques and topics. Eventually his irreverent and original art entered galleries, shows, exhibitions and public spaces. His studio is located in the centre of Como.

Via Giovio 5, Como 22100

Visit a tea emporium

Tea might not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Como, but unusual gifts and souvenirs are always the most appreciated. Tea World Shop showcases over 200 varieties of tea, cherry-picked from across the globe. They import directly from carefully-selected producers, often visiting them in person and always seeking to leave middlemen out of the process. In addition to tea, the shop features an original selection of infusions, coffee and delicacies. Have a look at the tea accessories if you’re looking for a peculiar souvenir to bring back home.

Via Odescalchi 8, Como 22100

Tea accessories at Tea World Shop (Photo: Tea World Shop)