Living the High Life in Lake Como and Switzerland

Before I went to Lake Como, the one thing I knew I wanted to see was…George Clooney’s house. Sometimes I amaze myself with my shallowness. To be fair, I didn’t know a ton about Lake Como – and it’s not really a place for visiting attractions. Most people go to Como to relax and indulge, so that’s exactly what I did.

On a weekend trip from my au pairing gig in Pavia (just outside Milan), I headed for Como. The journey took two trains and a long ferry ride, but I can sleep on literally any train in the world and the ferry ride was one of the most beautiful ever. So I was pretty okay with it. Direct quote from my travel journal: “I just successfully put liquid eyeliner on on a moving train and I don’t know if I can top that as the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” I stand by that.

Also, having a respite from a screaming mother and crying children was pretty great. I can’t waito write a post about my …well, let’s say interesting au pair experience. Back to the ferry ride. I bought a ticket for the slow option, which would take me to Menaggio and my chosen hostel.

Several hours and only 10 Euros later, I hopped off the ferry feeling like I had already experienced an entire getaway. Sitting on the boat, eavesdropping on the adorable British family in front of me and trying to catch a glimpse of George Clooney was so relaxing. It’s not often that getting to your destination is one of the best parts of a trip, but in this case it sure was!

20150627_175019 20150627_165738 20150627_094508After passing a ton of amazing towns and wishing I was staying there, Menaggio needed to be pretty awesome for me to be blown away. It somehow succeeded! I may not have had much choice in where to stay, since there aren’t a lot of hostels, but I still made the right choice.

There are three main towns clustered around the centre of the lake: Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna. Bellagio is packed with extremely rich people and designer shops. I do remember liking Varenna, but the sleepy vibe of Menaggio and the incredible sunsets (see next picture) took it leaps and bounds above the others. I met up with some fellow au pairs at La Primula Hostel and we revelled in the million dollar views that we were getting for around 20 Euros a night.

img_20150627_211818Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the hostel view – some of my pictures were among the bunch I lost when my phone was stolen in Perugia. Trust me when I say it is everything you want in a hostel view. It also has awesome food, gelato, and hookups for tons of activities. My au pair friends rented a boat one day and took it out, while I went to explore the other towns for an afternoon.

img_20150627_10142120150627_092724 20150627_082719That’s the main attraction here – it’s so easy to get between the different towns! I’d love to spend more time and see the villages further afield, and also maybe I just miss La Primula hostel.

My only other real activity in Como was a casual morning spent in Switzerland. So cool, right?! We literally decided that morning that we’d hop a bus to Lugano and explore, so we teamed up with some Americans staying in the hostel and made the trip. Again, all my pictures are gone except one, but it was pretty beautiful and exactly what I expected of Switzerland – 8 dollar cappuccino and all. It was certainly very Italian, however, and all it really made me want to do was see more of Switzerland.

20150628_113141One of my most pleasant memories of Como was a night spent drinking wine and enjoying amazing pasta, alone in the main piazza of Menaggio. I used to be so uncomfortable with going to restaurants alone, but so much solo travel has taught me how to really enjoy the experience. This was a particularly special evening, alone with my thoughts, and I really love reading back through my journal (which I always write in while I’m eating alone). My descriptions of the beauty around me and my reflections on myself and my travels get progressively more funny as I drink more wine.

I always find it hard to leave places I love, but in this case it was a particular challenge. I felt so relaxed in Como, had met so many lovely people, and was really dreading going back to my au pair family. On the plus side, in a few days we’d be packing up and moving to Trieste – a city I would quickly come to love.


  1. Laura Lynch says

    I’m always mesmerized by photos of Lake Como. It’s so gorgeous. And if it’s also pretty easy to get to by train and ferry than by all means! I’m going to look into it as our first trip from London (where we’re moving to in a few week). It’s probably a great spring destination.

    • brunettejetset says

      It’s a pretty painless journey for sure! That’d be great and I’m sure the flowers in spring would be wonderful. Flying into Milan would make this an amazing weekend getaway!

  2. Annie says

    This pictures are beautiful! I am sad you had your phone stolen though, I know how devastating that feels. Wish I could ask the thief for such the memory card, keep the phone! I also love eating alone, takes some getting used to but nice to have the time to relfect.

    • brunettejetset says

      Completely agree!! My wallet was stolen at the same time and I couldn’t have cared less in comparison to how I felt about my memory card. Luckily I still have the memories, but I really wish I did have those pictures.

  3. Tami says

    Brought back wonderful memories. I went to Lake Como two years ago, only for one day. I definitely want to go back. I would love to explore every little town along the lake. We visited Varenna, Bellagio, and Como, and even rode the Funiculare there. The lake is spectacularly gorgeous–everyone should go! Oh, and we got to see the home used for the filming of Star Wars, too — at least from a distance!

    • brunettejetset says

      I missed out on the house from Star Wars and I’m still so sad!! Totally didn’t realize it was there – added to the list for next time 🙂

  4. Megan Jerrard says

    So glad you enjoyed Lake Como – I don’t judge you for going to see George Clooney’s house lol that’s probably a driving force which would get me there too. Awesome too to hear that you’re comfortable with eating alone … I’m the same, I always tell people that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely – I actually really enjoy time to myself sometimes. And I’ve found that those moments are usually pretty great for people watching 🙂

    • brunettejetset says

      Hahaha totally. Absolutely! Even now, at home in Toronto, I go to movies alone, solo weekend trips, out to eat alone – I’ve really learned to appreciate that solitude! Glad you feel the same.

  5. Christina says

    Lake Como is a stunning spot, with amazing scenery and fantastic food. Did you know that one of the Star Wars movies was filmed in Lake Como? Did you bump into George Clooney? I think he still has a villa there.

    • brunettejetset says

      I saw his villa on the ferry ride! It’s gorgeous. I didn’t find out that Star Wars was filmed there until after I left, which I’m still sad about!

  6. Nancy says

    One of my favorite parts of the world! I spent a week in Lugano on the Swiss side but could walk across the border into Italy – so cool! I haven’t spent enough time exploring Lake Como and the lakeside villages – it sounds like there is a lot of diversity between Bellagio, Menaggio, and Varenna.

    • brunettejetset says

      I would have loved to have spent more time in Lugano! Definitely, I was surprised how different they were from eachother.

  7. Sue Reddel says

    Too bad you didn’t run into Mr. Clooney on your visit to Lake Como. Looks like so a romantic and lovely place to visit. I really enjoyed your photos. Can’t wait to hear more about your au pair experience – sounds interesting!


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