Lake Como, Lombardy, Italy

Lake Locations:

Italy - Lombardy -

One of the most recognizable and visited European lakes, Lake Como — also known as the Lago di Como — snuggles into the mountains and valleys of the Lombardy region of Italy. With over 36,000 acres and almost 1,350 feet deep, it is the third largest lake in Italy and one of the deepest lakes in Europe. These superlatives are only part of what sets Lake Como apart – its incredible sapphire depths set against beautiful mountain peaks make for one of the most breathtaking scenes in the region. Fig, pomegranate, olive, chestnut, and oleander trees line the verdant shoreline.

Lake Como is shaped like an inverted Y. The town of Colico is located at the tip of the northern arm where the Adda River enters the lake. The town of Como sits at the southern tip of the western branch, and the town of Lecco sits at the southern tip of the eastern branch. A boat service, located at the intersection of the three branches, provides service among the three arms of the lake.

The Adda and Mera Rivers are the two major bodies of water flowing into Lake Como. In 1946 a dam was completed on the Lecco branch of the lake to regulate the Adda River’s outflow for irrigation, hydropower, and flood control purposes. Since the 1960s the central part of the City of Como has dropped about two feet in elevation, increasing the risk of flooding. The public agency that controls the dam has the responsibility of minimizing flood control while maximizing water for irrigation and hydropower. The western arm of Lake Como has ongoing water quality problems due primarily to agricultural nutrient inflows from the Cosia River, prompting No Swimming signs along some beaches.

Lake Como’s history is romantic and painted with creative beauty. Due to its location, the lake has long been a meeting point between Central Europe and the Mediterranean. The cultural influences of these crossing cultures allowed Lecco and Como — the two provinces that encircle the lake — to develop a strong artistic history and an eclectic mix of traditions and architecture that reflect its past. In the 19th century, the area developed from a mix of small villages into a large, concentrated center. Today, Lake Como’s surrounding areas offer visitors and residents a generous combination of art, culture, and history that perfectly complement the amazing views at the lake.

Any architecture buff, history lover, or fan of cobbled streets and European charm will find their dream playground near Lake Como. Old Town, a walled city in the heart of Como, offers centuries-old towers and a basilica masterpiece created by the maestri comacini (masters of Como), the itinerant guilds of masons and architects who spread the Lombard style throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Cernobbio, a nearby town, offers old-style pensiones (family bed and breakfast) and incredible old villas fit for royalty. Lakeside Tremezzo boasts a classic promenade and picturesque panoramas. Lovely towns like these dot Lake Como’s 106 miles of shoreline, providing you with days of sightseeing and whimsical photo opportunities.

Lake Como offers more than can be put to words: tiny cafes with huge views, endless panoramas, and sparkling blue waters that earn the lake its moniker as the jewel in the crown of Italy’s spectacular lakes. A ferry tour will show you much of what this Italian treasure has to offer.

On your Western Shore tour of Lake Como, begin with Cernobbio, home to the Villa D’Este, a perennial favorite retreat for the rich and famous. Travel next to Brienno, a medieval village with old buildings, wooden front doors, and streets straight out of a fairy tale. Visit Argegno, gateway to Switzerland and home to spectacular views of neighboring Lake Lugano. Continue to Isola Comacina, the lake’s only island, populated with perfect old churches and artist homes.

Crossing over to the East Shore, hop from village to village, enjoying the shoreline cliffs and plunging views to match. Next on your itinerary is Torno, a medieval village populated by old churches and typical Italian architecture. After Torno, drink in the sights of Nesso and Lezzeno, small villages that seem to linger in the glow of the 16th century. Travel on to Bellagio, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Dance along the cobbled streets and take a moment to absorb the culture and history around you. When you’re finished, if that is even possible, make your last stop in Varenna, a town that rivals and may even surpass the beauty of Bellagio.

When you’ve finished sightseeing and are itching to have a go at the lake yourself, you’ll have many activities to choose from. From sailing to kayaking to windsurfing, there’s something for everyone. Even the very adventurous will find their niche here, testing their Superman skills at the local hydroplane piloting school. If you’d like to pick up the pace, hop behind a boat for a bit of fast-paced waterskiing fun, or grab onto a tube for the ride of a lifetime.

Of course, Lake Como is as much Italian as it is aquatic, so the offerings don’t stop with water sports. Indulge your taste buds with some of the most delicious food the world has to offer, sampling the local cuisine and testing your gastronomic boundaries. For a bit of local flavor, take a bite of missultin (dried lake shad), or try a peasant cuisine combining polenta, chicken, and cheeses. Pestos, marinaras, and homemade pastas are also on the menu.

Lake Como is a study in diversity, offering you almost anything that your heart desires. Explore old towns, gape at amazing villas, and dip your toes in the refreshing lake waters. At the end of the day, savor authentic Italian cuisine and wash your meal and day down with a deep, rich sip of area wine. You’ll soon see that nothing’s better than a day that begins and ends on Lake Como.

Things to do at Lake Como ITA

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Como ITA

  • Shad

Lake Como ITA Photo Gallery

Lake Como ITA Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Consorzio dell’Adda

Surface Area: 36,077 acres

Shoreline Length: 106 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 650 feet

Average Depth: 505 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,345 feet

Water Volume: 18,241,047 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 4.5 years

Drainage Area: 1,741 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic to Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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