The most beautiful feature of northern Italy is arguably the amazing lakes. Last week I had a road trip through the Lombardy region with friends.

Bellagio Arriving by car ferry to the port of Bellagio.

After driving along beautiful but dangerously narrow roads around the Lake Como, one of the largest lakes in Italy and also one of the deepest in Europe, we took a car ferry to the port of Bellagio. I remember reading about Mark Twain’s visit to Bellagio in 1867, where he described the picturesque surroundings with vibrant words.

Bellagio is situated on the headland where lakes Como and Lecco meet. It’s so breathtakingly beautiful that even Plinius had a house here during the 1st century AD. But even though the town is very pretty and picturesque, it seems to be invaded by American tourists.

View of Lake Como from Brunate The spectacular lunch view in Brunate.

The town of Como, largest settlement around Lake Como, attracts a lot of people with big wallets. But I choose to take the 1894 funicular about 1000 meters up the mountain to the Brunate region, where you get a much better view of the lake. Less retail, more tranquility.

While having delicious antipasti, I look down on the town. Located next to Lake Como and surrounded by tall mountains, the location is spectacular to say the least. It’s no wonder that so many people are attracted to this area. The town in itself is also quite cute, with the cathedral clearly visible in the center.

Villa del Balbianello This exact spot at beautiful Villa del Balbianello was featured in both Casino Royale and Star Wars Episode 2.

For movie buffs such as myself the Lombardy region features several sites of interest. One of the most interesting is Villa del Balbianello, hidden away from the main hustle. After a 20 minute walk through a beautiful forest we enter the compound, which features a great view of the lake and surrounding mountains. On this particular day I could see all the way up to the snow-clad alps in the north.

The villa was featured in several scenes of Star Wars Episode 2, including the marriage of Anakin and Padme. It also was the recovering place for Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Casino Royale.

The lakes of Lombardy are a place of wonder, and I would love to explore more lakes in the area.


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