Useful tips for travelling on Lake Como
Relaxing holiday on Lake Como
Timetable of banks, shops and restaurants
Banks : The bank’s branch open 8:30pm to 01:30am and from 2:30 to 04:00pm Monday to Friday. Usually outside the bank you find a cash machine (Bancomat) where you can obtain cash by means your credit card. If you wish to change money you have to go in the bank and show your passport. Please take note that in Italy it’s not possible to pay in cash more than 990,00 euro.
Shops: Groceries (Alimentari) open 8:30am to 12:30pm – 4:00 to 7:30pm; closed Monday Afternoon and Sunday
Small supermarket: 8:30am to 1:00pm – 3:00 to 8:00 pm all the week Monday to Saturday. Sunday morning only during the summer season.
Pharmacy: 8:30am to 12:30pm and 3:00 to 7:30pm from Monday to Saturday. Please take note that each Pharmacy as a personal timetable for closing day. Anyway on Sunday there is always a Pharmacy opened: going to the closer pharmacy you could find showed the address with the Pharmacy opened “Farmacia di Turno”or look at this website
Other shops: 9:30am to 12:30pm – 3:30 to 7:30pm; closed Monday morning
Malls: always open from 8:30am to 9:00pm
In the most of the restaurant of lake Como, it’s possible to dine from 7:30 to 9:30pm (usually the chef gets off around 9/9:30); if you want to eat a pizza, Pizzerias are open until midnight. Book the restaurants for the dinner, it’s better, the service will be longer cared. When you get in the restaurant ask “un tavolo per due .. tre (numbers of guests), per favore”.
Tipping is not required, but if you leave a tip will mean that you are happy with the food and the service, and the staff will be rewarded and will remember you.
To experience the true Italian cuisine, or the specialities of lake Como, it would be better to avoid too touristy restaurants.
Moving further inland you can enjoy delicious dinners made from local and seasonal products. A small trick to recognize a good restaurant? If there are many Italian and a few foreigners … the restaurant is fine.
In the bars you can mainly taste
The espresso…. unique and only Italian
The espresso could be “normale” (black), “macchiato caldo” (with hot milk), “macchiato freddo” (with could milk), corto (very strong). In Italy if you ask for a coffee it will be always expresso. Normal coffee is served black without milk or cream. If you wish you can specify “caffč macchiato caldo” if you want hot milk, or ask for a cold milk served apart. If you wish a weaker and long coffee ask for “Caffč Americano” that is an espresso with hot water….
Typical Italian breakfast is made by Cappuccino and croissants (brioches). Italians generally have cappuccino and briosches standing in front of the bar quickly, the cappuccino is served warm to be able to drink faster. If you want a very hot cappuccino you have to ask for “un cappuccino molto caldo, per favore”. You find fresh croissants in the morning.
Aperitivo is a italian rite, expecilly on Friday evening. The time to enjoy Aperitivo is between 6:00 to 7:30pm; you can choose your favourite drink and tasting free appetiser consisting in cured meats, local cheese, olives and other Italian delights. All this is laid out on the bar and is self- service.
All the destinations of the lake are well linked each other by public transports. The best way to tour the lake is by public boats (battello); in this way the traffic is avoided and the sight of the coast from the water is really special. You can recognize the stops from the sign “Navigazione” You can buy the ticket on the place. The small “battello” is more exiting of the bigger one, you are close to the water and they are slower.
The buses are cheaper than boats; bus tickets cannot be purchased on the bus, you have to
buy them in a bars or stationery store or a kiosk; to be honest, especially in the village, find who sells bus tickets is like a treasure hunt ….. so it ‘s best to arrive at the bus stop early do not risk to miss it.
Train: In Como City there are two stations: Como San Giovanni (National railway) where you can catch trains for any destination also Switzerland (e.g Lugano) and Como Nord Lago very useful to go in Milano center (Piazza Cadorna) or Lecco (nice City on the lake that is worth visiting);
When you buy a ticket you can ask “biglietto solo andata” for one-way and “ biglietto andata e ritorno” for round-trip ticket.
Taxi is less expansive here compared UK or other Northen European Countries, but it is not cheap. In the villages with difficulty you’ll find a number to call a taxi or a taxi station, in case of need you can ask a favour to a hotel reception or restaurant. In the City of Como you find taxi at the San Giovanni Station or in Piazza Peretta.
Driving around the Lake and main roads
The most of the roads around lake Como are narrow with many bends. These roads are also covered by buses and trucks. Along the West side there are some very narrow points at the entrance of the village of Colonno, SalaComacina, Ossuccio and Mezzegra; the road going to Bellagio, on the East side, is also narrow and with a lot of bends but is less busy, anyway it requires to drive slowly; the road on the West side is very busy in the summer especially and it’s possible to find jam cause of really narrow points. Our suggestion is to rent a car not too large.
The drivers have always to have passport, driving licence and documents relating to the car. Passengers should have identity documents. Seats belts are mandatory and also the emergency triangle & high visibility jacket in the car. Pay attention they are when you rent a car.
The speed limit: on the motorway is 130 km/h, down to 110 in the case of precipitation, it is 50 if there is dense fog. On the main roads you have to travel to no more than 110 km/h; on secondary and local ones at 90 km/h. The road along the west side of lake (Como_Menaggio), called Regina, is at 70km/h; in the City and Villages the limit is 50 km/h. In a few specific areas of high pedestrian density is also set a limit of 30 km/h; this is always reported.
The only exception are the new drivers, for which the rules are stricter. For the first three years they may not in fact exceed 100 km/h on the motorway and 90 km/h on the main roads.
Please take note that TELEPASS is an automatic barrier for drivers with an automated
device. Motorway can be paid by credit card or coins
Italy has very strict drink driving laws , only allowing 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood.
The driver can speak on the mobile only with speakerphone or headset.
If an Italian driver dazzles you, depending on the position you are in, this can mean:
“I notice there is the police up ahead or obstruction” (anyway better to reduce speed),
“I wish to pass you”
“Stop! I coming”
During the winter here the snow chains are mandatory.
When you call an emergency number, make sure you have the address of where you are
Ambulance 118 – Policy 113 – Carabinieri 112 – Fireman 115
Health services for tourists:
Tourists can benefit from the National Italian health service, but there are differences depending on the Nationality:
Citizen coming from EEC countries and his relatives can get sanitary services, directly, provided by Italian Law, included medical general and emergency assistance just showing the T.E.A.M. card (European Health insurance card or its temporary certificate); there are some health services under payment of a ticket, the same is for Italians.
Citizen coming from extra EEC Citizen coming from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Monaco, Repubblica San Marino, Tunisia and Vatican, that Italy stipulated an agreement with, who has a card similar to ECC one (different and specific for each country) can benefit from the National Italian Health Service in the same way of the European Citizens.
The citizens coming from Countries extra EEC that Italy didn’t stipulate agreement with, can get all health performances, included the emergency with hospitalization, but only under payment.
If you have forgot your T.E.A.M card or you have not it with you at the moment of need, you can delivery it later. If you do not it you have to pay for services and you can ask for refund to your National Health Service once back home.
However, we recommend do not forget it!
click here for more info
If you loose passport or other documents whilst in Italy, report it to the policy immediately. You can go to the “Carabinieri” or “Polizia di Stato”. You can find many Carabinieri headquarters along the lake Como, The “Polizia di Stato” is located in the City of Como.
Please take note that the most of police officers do not speak English, so if you have to report a complicated matter, better you go with somebody can translate and specially …. be “chilled out”, it won’t be a speedy matter!
Mobile Phone and Internet connection:
The mobile phone has a good reception throughout the area. There are some villages and some areas of the City with free internet access. Some bars offer free internet access, but you need to ask for the password. Anyway there some villages that are not cabled for internet connection, especially in the north of the Lake Como, in this case is used satellite system.
The lake is beautiful, with many hidden corners. The beauty of the lake are not always at hand, but they require a bit of effort.
Always bring comfortable or trekking shoes to be able to walk the ancient cobbled paths and down the stone stairs, here the heels are forbidden!
The temperature during summer is between 25 and 30 degrees, with a peak at around 33 degrees. The days with high winds are rare, it can happen during a storm.
Towards evening, as the sun sets, there is a breeze so keep on hand a light sweater. If during the day you make an inland excursion to the beautiful valleys (such as the Valley Intelvi), keep on hand a sweater, the temperature is cooler.
A hat will certainly be necessary to shelter from the sun during the hottest hours.
Very useful are the aquatic shoes, as the beaches and the reefs are made of cobblestones
The elegant dresses can be shown off in the evening, during one of the many events of Lake Como or dinner in elegant and romantic restaurant.
Weekend deals are hard to come by, grab this one before it’s too late!