The Social Media Trip had the theme “NEOCLASSICAL VILLAS, LUSH GARDENS, AND BOAT RIDES AROUND THE JAW-DROPPING LAKESIDE HAMLETS. WELCOME TO LAKE COMO.” Read more about the project and the itinerary of the trip here.
I honestly didn't know much about this area, but images I looked up and the program suggested looked very promising. And I wasn't being disappointed.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT LOMBARDY
Lake Como is in the North of Italy very close to the Switzerland border. Milan, Lombardy's capital, is the second-largest city and the largest metropolitan area in Italy. There live around 10 Mio. people in the region of Lombardy (one of them is George Clooney from time to time, who frequently stays at Lake Como). Como, home to Renaissance architecture, is a great starting point for trips around the Lake Como, including stunning water tours (more on this later).
As most of the times when I travel, I take my travel camera, the Olympus E-M10 with me. The Google Pixel XL is with me all the time anyway. This time I also had the DXO One with me as an additional camera to play around with (that is also why I took my iPhone &S with me, the DXO One so far only works with an iPhone). If you want to know exactly which photo was shot with which camera, hit me up and I'll tell you. Oh, and I bought a new photo bag 😉
GETTING TO LOMBARDY
Getting to Lombardy from Hamburg is, again, very easy. Advantages of living in a major city in Germany, in the middle of Europe. I took two different routes to get and return from Lombardy. I arrived via Bergamo and my flight back home was via Milan Malpensa. Both airports are very well connected to Milan from where the trip to Lake Como started and ended.
We were a diverse group of Bloggers and Instagramers, except me everyone was from different parts of Italy. Despite the fact that most of the time Italian was spoken we had quite some fun during the days and I hope to stay in touch with these bunch of nice people.
SAY HELLO TO TIZIANA, ISABELLE, ANGELICA, ORAZIO, CHRISTIAN, DAVIDE AND MATTIA.
DAY 1: THURSDAY, JULY 13TH
We started the day around 2 pm in Milan and went straight to Lake Como, to Gravedona to visit the Salice Occhiali eyeglass fabric. They are a manufacturer of sunglasses and goggles since 1919 and the owner is quite a type. She was smoking her cigarette while explaining to us some of the history of the company and praising their achievements.
We had a quick glimpse in the family-owned fabric and watched how the goggles and sports glasses are made. Quite interesting.
Cardano & Villa Bagatti Valesecchi
From the eyewear fabric, we went to the little town of Cardano where we learned a bit of the history of the town and were invited to visit Villa Bagatti Valesecchi. The town is really picturesque and the view from the Villa is really incredible.
We learned a bit of the history of the Villa and its owners and how much they have done for the region of Lombardy had the chance to bake some traditional cake/cookies called “Pan de mej“. We finished the visit with a little picnic in the gardens of the Villa enjoying our self baked cookies and the view.
DAY 2: FRIDAY, JULY 14TH
Lenno & Villa del Balbianello
Kicking off the day with some breakfast and then the crew made it way to Lenno, to jump on a water taxi and went straight to Villa del Balbianello. If you wondered why the photos look familiar or the if the name rings a bell. Films like James Bond (Casino Royal) or Star Wars (Episode II Attack of the Clones ) have been filmed here.
We got ourself an exclusive tour with a lot of explanation through the entire Villa (and its hidden tunnels. Yes!) and learned why the Villa looks like it looks today and the story of the last owner Guido Monzino (leader of the first Italian expedition to climb Mount Everest). The man has a pretty impressive collection of all kind of art.
If you're into flowers and gardening, then the Villa is for you. On top it has some very spectacular views on Bellagio.
The Villa Carlotta is a villa and botanical garden in Tremezzo on Lake Como in Northern Italy. The villa is today a museum, whose art collection includes works by Canova, Thorvaldsen, Migliara and Hayez in addition to pieces of furniture from the time of the various owners.
The botanical garden covers an area of about 8 ha (20 acres)and consists of several different sections. The Italian garden with cut hedges and pergolas with orange and camellia trees. The rhododendron and 150 varieties of azalea spread up the slope. The property is also home to cedars, palms, redwoods, plane trees and other exotic plants. There is also a bamboo garden.
After two beautiful Villas it was time to head to Como for a photowalk through the city with its narrow streets, beautiful buildings and the Dumo.
By the way, Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electrical battery and the discoverer of methane, was born in Como, which is visible through a giant V (Life Electric Monument) at the harbor and the Tempio Voltiano.
Como is also the ideal starting point for a boat tour on the lake Como which we did the next day.
We closed off the day in a nice restaurant, , in Cernobbio. On the way to the restaurant we also did a little exploration of the streets and surroundings nearby.
DAY 3: SATURDAY, JULY 15TH
The Villa is a bit off from the lake but it was worth the trip. We were greeted by the owners (an older couple) which still lives there. That is a bit different from the other Villas we visited as they were more a museum. I was even more surprised to see another couple dressed in traditional medieval dresses, walking around the garden for us, dancing in the rooms and being a perfect photo opportunity.
The Villa itself is beautiful and surrounded by a huge garden with its own lake. The views from the terrasse were stunning too.
Boats Tours Lake Como
Not much to say here, only that it is worth the trip. We went all the way from Como to Bellagio with multiple stops along the way. The view is just fantastic from the water. The boat wasn't too crowded, so you easily get a seat on deck and can wander around in between and enjoy also a wine (or two ;)).
Bellagio & The gardens of Villa Melzi
Our boat tour ended in Bellagio, where we did a short tour through the busy and narrow streets and went on to the gardens of the Villa Melzi. It is a big garden with a great view on the lake and to the other side.
It also has a great pergola directly at the lake with a balcony for the perfect summer photo.
DAY 4: SUNDAY, JULY 16TH
The last day was just to get back from Lake Como to Milan and spend a couple of hours there before heading to the airport to get back to Hamburg. So I went for the most touristic spot at all, the Dumo, took a couple of pictures and went to explore some side streets and the area between the main station and the Dumo.
I found myself a good Pizzeria, Spontini – Duomo, and then kept exploring. Took a short trip back to the main station by tube to get a glimpse in the Milan tube station. Need to explore this a bit more the next time. Will spend another weekend in Milan in October 😉
MILAN MAIN STATION
BONUS – MY LOMBARDY PHOTO SPOTS & TRAVEL ROUTES
If you're interested in my photo spots and travel routes, I added these maps down below for you. The routes are not a 100% match but it's close to what I did. And for the rest, you know, it is all about exploring on your own.