The Lake Como Hidden Gems That Don’t Appear on Your Instagram Feed—And Where to Find Them

For lunch anywhere along the lake, do not sleep on piadine, a sort of Italian sandwich most similar to a flour tortilla quesadilla. You can get one at almost any bar or café, stuffed with oil-packed tuna and arugula and tomato, or with turkey and vinegary mayonnaise, and the best ones come hot with melty cheese inside and a crispy, flexible exterior.

The garden at Villa Lario

Villa Lario

A guest room at Villa MUSA

Francesco Lopazio

Where to stay

If your budget is on the high end, post up at Passalacqua, the newest luxury hotel in town, which sits at the end of a narrow, winding road on the shore of Moltrasio. As a part of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo family, the restored 18th century super-villa offers impeccable service, vistas, and grounds—plus a bar cart that made me audibly gasp—with virtually no crowd. (It has only 24 rooms and a similar property footprint to the GHT, which has 90 rooms, so Passalacqua feels serene; though if you get lonely, you may visit the fuzzy chickens penned off to one side of the gardens, laying eggs for breakfast.)

For a moderate-to-high budget, if a remote and tranquil sanctuary appeals, consider Villa Lario, a contemporary hotel with 18 rooms tucked into the steep roadside midway between Como and Bellagio. Or if you’re after a sleek spot that allows you to explore by foot, book a room at MUSA Lago di Como, which opened on the shore of charming fisherman village Sala Comacina in June 2022. Its lakefront GAIA Bar has magical superpowers—it can convert work stress into another round of aperitivi in under ten minutes, flat—and a gracious patio with panoramic views from its comfy sofas. There are also plenty of private villas for rent, like the rustic-chic Villa Torno just a few minutes south of Villa Lario, or Villa Musa if you’re after the sunny western shore.

If you’re looking to spend less on lodging, count yourself fortunate if you can snag one of the three stylish rooms at Villa Lina, a bed and breakfast with a stellar location and the kindest owners. Each of its bedrooms is soothingly appointed in neutrals, with head-on views of the lake, and it is conveniently located on the walking path that connects each cluster of restaurants and bars in Tremezzo. For the intrepid, sporty traveler looking for chic-spartan lodging further north—Grand Central for windsurfing and other water sports, as well as some trekking routes—check out Casa Olea in Cremia, a minimalist joint newly opened in a restored 18th-century vicarage. (Come with a rental car, since there aren’t many options for dining nearby.) Or, for lavender-scented poolside slopes, make your way all the way up to Agriturismo Treterre, perched at the top of a looping road with a severe grade. Treterre offers scenic isolation and a landscape that basically forces your shoulders down from around your ears, with a restaurant that culls from the property’s farmland.

And if you do find yourself in need of a room in downtown Como, say to catch an early train, or because you prefer the convenience of staying within a city, book a room at Palazzo Albricci Peregrini, a 15th-century palace-turned-treasure chest of a boutique hotel with Venetian plaster walls, elegant furniture, and plush finishings well worth your time. Como is rife with people for good reason, after all.

Leave a Reply