Best things to do on Lake Como in October and November
Visiting Italy in October and November is not necessarily on the average traveler’s radar. Lucky for you, you are anything but average, and you know these are great months for a stay at your favorite luxury hotel on Lake Como! And Passalacqua guests are definitely the kind of travelers who appreciate the perks of autumn by the lake: cobbled lakeside streets bereft of summer’s crowds, distant mountains charming in snowy caps, and seasonal delicacies just waiting to be discovered.
Perhaps the best reason to stay at Passalacqua in the autumn months is the opportunity to experience Lake Como as a local. With most of the more touristy sights shuttered for the winter, you can expect food, ambiance and experiences that cater more for locals and are as authentic as they come. You are also more likely to meet actual Comaschi in your daily adventures – exactly the kind of cross-cultural encounters that take travel to the next level. Plus, an autumnal stay at our 5-star hotel on Lake Como gives you unfettered access to life at the villa, from culinary workshops and satisfying spa rituals to lazy library afternoons by the fire.
So, what are the best things to do at on Lake Como in October and November? That depends on what kind of traveler you are…
Autumn is the perfect season in which to enjoy some of Lake Como’s most traditional culinary treats – at our luxury hotel and across Lake Como. When temperatures start to drop, it is finally time to enjoy polenta either served with a stick-to-your-ribs sauce of local game or drenched in copious amounts of butter and cheese in a traditional Tóc. Truffles start to appear on everything from pasta and eggs to steak, while the smell of chestnuts roasting in old steel drums fills the air. This is also the season for the area’s mouth-watering food and wine festivals – another great opportunity to rub shoulders with local residents as you taste your way through the local villages.
October 7/8 - Castagne, Streghe e … Dintorni (Chestnuts, Witches and Surroundings)
In the hamlet of Rovenna in nearby Cernobbio, this festival celebrates the female foragers of yesteryear (often adored/feared as witches!) and the humble chestnut, for centuries the region’s staple food used in everything from soup to gnocchi.
September 30/October 1, October 7/8 and 14/15 - Morbegno in Cantina
The Valtellina, one of the most dramatic wine landscapes in Italy, invites guests to discover its authentic flavors in the annual Morbegno in Cantina festival, where you can stroll through the ancient cellars in the historic center tasting the best local delicacies and red wines.
October 16 - November 27 - Selvatica (Wild)
Designed to promote conscious consumption of the region’s lesser-known delicacies, this initiative offers a unique menu based on game, Lake Como fish and food foraged locally at participating restaurants.
November 4/5, 11/12, 18/19 - SloWeekend – The Magic and the Flavors of Lake Como
Taking place in four of the area’s most charming villages, Bellagio, Menaggio, Tremezzina and Varenna, this festival offers themed tours, food markets as well as food and wine tastings – plus the chance to meet some of the region’s most colorful culinary characters!
For Outdoor Enthusiasts:
Autumn is a great time to explore the outdoors on Lake Como – the leaves erupt in a riot of fall color (before they fall, revealing uninterrupted lake views!), and the chalet restaurants known as refugi along the trails offer a true refuge with hearty meals, soothing wines and roaring fires (like the imminently charming Rifugio Murellli at almost 4000 ft!). Whether it is a gentle stroll through our native village of Moltrasio or a more ambitious hike on majestic Monte Colmegnone (and many more trails in between!), time spent outdoors elevates your wellbeing as only Mother Nature can. The guests of our luxury hotel on Lake Como have access to the area’s best naturalist and hiking guides to make your experience as safe, simple and pleasurable as possible. There are also great sporting events to take part in during October and November – either as a spectator or a competitor!
October 13 - Il Lombardia
The event of the year for Lombardy’s ciclismo fans, this almost 70-mile race winds its way through the mountains and along the lake. Head to the famed Madonna del Ghisallo church (dedicated to the patron saint of cycling!) to cheer the teams on during the toughest climb.
October 13-15 - Centomiglia del Lario
The 74th edition of the Centomiglia del Lario brings the fastest powerboats to Lake Como (most by helicopter!) for the world championship races – watch the high-octane action from Villa Olmo in Como.
October 29 - Bellagio Sky Race
Starting and ending on the Bellagio shore, this 18-mile race on winding trails with 6,000+ feet of elevation gain is a real test of endurance. Kids from 6 to 11 years of age can take part in the Mini Sky Race in the Villa Melzi gardens.
For Culture Connoisseurs:
While you may not spend as much time lolling by the pool in October and November, there’s no better time to discover the area’s cultural highlights! We have a roster of trusted guides and drivers to take you on a daytrip to Milan, Lugano or Bergamo (and spice up your culture with a bit of shopping!) or to explore some of the must-see and lesser-known gems within easy reach of our five-star Lake Como hotel.
Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo with its collection of museum-worthy art and beautiful furnishings from the mid-19th century is well worth a visit – and even the botanical gardens have their wintry charms. Open daily until Nov. 5. Don’t miss Passeggia e Assaggia, a food tasting and walking tour at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 28.
Villa del Balbianello near Lenno needs no introduction. Arriving by boat at this bright yellow villa is Lake Como’s favorite photo op, and the elegant yellow loggia, featured in James Bond and Star Wars, is second only to the house museum celebrating the life of an intrepid Italian adventurer (with narwhal horn!). Open all year, every day except Monday and Wednesday.
Villa Monastero in Varenna started life as a monastery before German businessman Walter Kees and then Swiss scientist Marco de Marchi gave the villa its eclectic neo-Baroque, neo-Classical and Belle Epoque style, adding a botanic garden with rare species and hosting scientific events (most famously with Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi). Open daily until Nov. 1.
Villa Bernasconi in Cernobbio is a fascinating example of Italy’s Liberty Style villas from the turn of the 20th century, where the villa tells its own story – and that of the eponymous textile magnate that built it – in an interactive exhibit. Reservations required.
Como’s Museo della Seta (open Tues.-Sun. 10 to 6) highlights the city’s history in the silk trade and hosts a range of temporary silk-related exhibits. Or arrange for a private visit of the sumptuous archives of renowned silk producers Mantero and Ratti.
Tempo Voltiano (open Tues.-Sun. 10 to 6) in Como is dedicated to physicist and inventor of the battery Alessandro Volta, currently offering an exhibit called “Donne di Scienza” with famous women from region who were trailblazers in the world of science.
Moto Guzzi Museum in Mandello del Lario showcases the history and culture of this legendary motorcycle manufacturer.
Como’s gorgeous Teatro Sociale first opened its doors in 1813 and is known for its high-quality opera, theater and dance performances, this year with Orff’s Carmina Burana on Oct. 3, Verdi’s Luisa Miller on Oct. 27 and Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea on Nov, 24/26 as well as an homage to an American dance hero with Ailey II on Nov. 11.
The closing concert of the Pianomaster Festival takes place in beautiful Palazzo Galio in Gravedona ed Uniti on October 19, while there is a performance of Vivaldi’s Quattro Stagioni in Villa Erbe in Cernobbio on October 29.
And now for something completely different…
Book a “Night at the Castle” tour to Castello Baradello, the fortress towering over Como town, complete with flashlights and mysterious stories. Or better yet, get scary at their annual Halloween party!
Enjoy a flightseeing tour of Lake Como on a vintage sea plane – the bird’s eye view has to be seen to be believed and landing on the water is its own adventure!
Visit the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio, a Catholic pilgrimage site with 14 baroque chapels along a winding path, each representing one of the mysteries of the rosary and featuring painted terracotta statues as well as elaborate frescos that bring bible stories to life.
Book a Secret Sanctum Ritual at Passalacqua’s underground spa suite, a medley of treatments (and treats!) designed to indulge all your senses and a magical setting straight out of A Thousand and One Nights!