5 DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1 - MILAN

  • Start your day with a free walking tour of the city which is 3-4 hours long. The tour guide will take you to Milan’s main attractions such as the Duomo, Piazza Mercanti, Castello Sforzesco, Teatro alla Scala, San Bernardino alle Ossa, Università Statale, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This is a great way to get acquainted with the city.
  • Grab lunch after the walking tour and head back to the Duomo and purchase tickets to go to the top. The top of the Duomo offers nice views of the surrounding area.
  • Later in the afternoon, head to Castello Sforzesco and take a self-guided tour of the grounds (the walking tour will just pass by this, you will not go inside). From here, walk through the adjacent park to Arco della Pace.
  • Have pizza for dinner at Pizza AM. TimeOut also has a list of some of the best places for pizza in Milan.

DAY 2 - MILAN

  • In the morning, head to the historic Marchesi 1824 above the Prada store in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This is a cute café where you can enjoy delicious coffee, pastries, chocolate, and gelato.
  • Spend the day shopping (or window shopping) in the Quadrilatero della Moda, Villa della Spiga, and Via Monte Napoleone.
  • Around 5pm, freshen up and head to the Navigli neighborhood for aperitivo (see below). There are many cute cafés and restaurants along the canal to choose from, many of them with outdoor seating. Afterwards, see if there are any shows you can catch at the Teatro alla Scala.
  • You can head to Lake Como (Bellagio) either this night or in the morning the next day. The drive takes ~1.5 hours while bus/train times vary depending on the schedule.

DAY 3 - BELLAGIO

  • Spend the day wandering the streets of Bellagio, including the Lake Promenade. Be sure to visit Chiesa San Giacomo (church).
  • Take a tour of Villa Serbelloni, grab lunch at La Goletta, and relax poolside while enjoying the views.
  • In the afternoon, charter a boat for a few hours and travel around the lake. In my opinion, this is the best way to enjoy the Lake Como region!
  • Once back in Bellagio, head to La Grotto for dinner. This restaurant is known for its fresh caprese and pizza - I highly recommend it!


DAY 4 - TREMEZZO, LENNO, & MENAGGIO

  • Spend the day exploring the towns of Tremezzo, Lenno, and Menaggio. These towns can be reached by the ferry. You can purchase ferry tickets at the ticket offices near each town’s dock. You may even consider purchasing a day one-day ferry pass to save on transportation around the lake depending on how many towns you plan to visit.
  • In Tremezzo, some attractions you should visit include Villa Carlotta, Grand Hotel, and Chiesa San Lorenzo.
  • Afterwards, take the ferry to Lenno where you can walk along Greenway del Lago di Como and tour the grounds of the beautiful Villa del Balbialenno.
  • Last, head to Menaggio where you can enjoy your evening exploring Villa Mylius Vigoni and the Town Center and Lake Promenade. Feel free to grab dinner at one of the many restaurants that overflow into the Town Center.


DAY 5 - VARENNA & LECCO

  • Spend your last day exploring the towns of Varenna and Lecco before heading back to Milan.
  • Be sure to visit Villa Monastero, Castello di Vezio, and the town center in Varenna. And in Lecco, climb to the top of Campanile di San Nicolo and also take the Piani d'Erna Cable Car for amazing views of the region.

LOGISTICS

VISA REQUIREMENTS

For US and Canadian citizens, a visa is not required for stays under 90 days, however they must have at least three months validity remaining beyond their planned date of departure from the Schengen area. Please refer to your country's official resources to determine your visa requirements.

GETTING AROUND

In Milan, we mostly got around by foot or using Ubers. Most of the main attractions are within walking distance from one another. Similarly in Lake Como, we walked around within each town. We used the ferry service to get from town to town. We opted to drive from Milan to Lake Como as this was part of a longer roadtrip we had planned in the region (see the Côte d'Azur itinerary). There are also trains and buses from Milan to the Lake Como region.

LANGUAGE & CURRENCY

While Italian is the official language of Italy, many of the tourist attractions, including restaurants, have staff that can speak English (and sometimes French, German, or Spanish). We did not face any language barriers during our visit. Given that Italy is a European Union country, they use the Euro as their currency. As of September 2020, $1 USD equals 0.84€ EUR (or 1€  equals $1.18). We found that most places accepted credit card, but it is always good to have some cash on hand.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

LAKE COMO ACCOMMODATIONS

I suggest trying to find accommodations near the center of the lake in towns such as Bellagio, Menaggio, or Varenna. It is most expensive to stay in Bellagio, but might be worth it as it is more lively in the evenings in comparison to the other towns. For example, in Menaggio, things died down significantly as we were finishing up dinner. We found an Airbnb in Bellagio that was reasonably priced and very centrally located. It was nice to see a little bit of nightlife in the evenings.

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WHAT IS APERITIVO?

Often compared to happy hour, aperitivo can be found all over Italy, especially in Milan roughly between 6pm to 9pm. It is a time when friends gather to socialize and relax, enjoy a spritz, and nibble on some pre-dinner snacks (while its not meant to replace dinner, we ended up ordering enough to fill us up that we did not get dinner afterwards).

Aperitivo as we we know it today originated in Piedmont, the capital city of Turin in Italy. In 1786, Antonio Benedetto Carpano started experimenting in his distillery with ingredients including herbs, vanilla, and saffron, eventually creating Vermouth. The drink gained popularity in Turin over the next century. In the early 19th century, Count Camillo Negroni invented the Negroni cocktail made with vermouth, gin, and Campari. This drink also gained popularity in Tuscany and gave birth to the aperitivo culture. Meanwhile in Venice, the spritz was becoming a choice drink among soldiers. Eventually aperitivo became a lifestyle throughout the country and nearly 250 years later, it is still a huge part of the culture.

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