Known as the most popular and beautiful of Italy’s lakes, Lake Como continues to capture the hearts of visitors. Its shores are home to many idyllic Italian towns, all with their own unique charm – and Argegno is just one little village that is gaining popularity.
Located on a large inlet of Lake Como’s western shore at the foot of the Valle d’Intelvi, Argegno is a quaint fishing village dotted with colorful houses in hues of yellow, pink, orange, red and green – and everything in between. It offers sweeping panoramic views of the lake’s deep blue waters and rolling hills in the distance. A decorative black fence lines part of the shore, with attractive pink and red flowers adding impact to the picture-perfect scene.
From Argegno, on a clear day, it is possible to see as far as the town of Bellagio to the north and the small village of Nesso to the south.
Lake Como is situated in northern Italy, just north of Milan in the Lombardy region, not far from the Swiss border. Reaching depths of over 1,300 feet (400 meters), it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. The long and narrow lake is shaped like an inverted ‘Y’ and stretches for 31 miles (50 kilometers). Bellagio, the ‘pearl of the lake’, is located in the promontory between the two ‘branches’ where the lake splits into two. At the end of the two branches are Como and Lecco.
The town of Como is at the foot of Mount Brunate. Surrounded by hills and mountains, it is the most important town in the Lake Como precinct and has fantastic transportation connections along with a bustling waterfront filled with shops and restaurants. Como is easily reached by train from Milan and ferries depart each hour for the various towns around Lake Como.
The beautiful yet diverse landscape, with gorgeous villas and gardens to be found along the shore and striking mountainous landscapes in the distance, is attracting visitors from all over the world. US travelers seem to be especially taken by the gorgeous surroundings.
Although Argegno may not receive as much attention as some of the more popular Lake Como towns such as Bellagio or Varenna, it is fast becoming a popular alternative for travelers that want to visit the area but avoid all of the hustle and bustle. The town is not as overrun by tourists; however, the summer months can still get quite busy, and its buildings still exhibit a great deal of old-world charm.
Argegno is a petite town with a small population of approximately 700 people, and it stretches only two square miles (5 km²). Businesses in the area therefore rely quite heavily on tourism. It is a great base to explore Lake Como’s many destinations.
Argegno has Roman origins and was named after the consul Publio Cesio Archigene. Like many of Lake Como’s lakeside towns, Argegno was built as part of a defensive system, strategically located to guard the shore from enemies and quickly put an end to any attempt at invasion.
The towns surrounding Lake Como have a pleasant and mild climate throughout the year. Although winter can get quite cold, this weather is only short-lived, giving rise to the blossoming warmth of an early spring and warm summer – and the beautiful colors of flowers in full bloom. Autumn is another beautiful time to visit. During this time of the year, the area looks quite different as the color of the mountain slopes change to include the typical shades of the season – orange and red.
Argegno is crossed by the Telo stream and divided into two parts which are connected by an old stone bridge that features an arch. The main lakeside village is situated on the road that runs parallel with the lake. Here, you will also find the ferry terminal and main bus route. Along this strip, there are several bars, cafés and restaurants offering local cuisine including everything from pizza and pasta to the freshest seafood. Within the village, there is also an authentic gelateria where you will find delicious homemade gelato, and a bakery luring in passersby with the scent of freshly baked bread and sweets.
Behind the main strip, follow the hilly, windy cobbled back streets, paths and steps for a glimpse at how the locals live. Wooden shutters adorn the windows with plants dotted here and there. As I walk through these paths, the only signs that this area is inhabited, are the clothes that have been hung outside some of the windows to dry and an elderly lady who sits on her doorstep peacefully watching people walk by. Several hidden restaurants can also be found within these back streets and paths. Lakefront dining is tempting but try one of those trattorias in the little side streets. You may be surprised of the delicious and authentic food you get served there.
No visit to Argegno is complete without seeing the Sanctuary of Sant’Anna, a church that dates back to the 17th century but was later renovated. Inside, it features beautiful frescoes from the 17th and 18th century. If you take the cable car from Argegno up to Mount Pigra, you can visit the 15th century Oratory of San Rocco in Pigra with more beautiful frescoes. Plus, at an elevation of 2,600 feet (850 meters), you will enjoy fantastic views of the lake. From here, the Valle della Camoggia, which is part of the Argegno-Cima della Duaria conservation area, can be explored.
A small harbor with a marina and pebble beach can be found, not far from the Sanctuary of Sant’Anna. The small beach is a popular area for sunbathing and swimming. Fishing boats line the marina, which is partially enclosed by a stone wall. For those interested in fishing, there is a tackle shop close by.
Argegno is best explored on foot. It offers many hotels situated within the town, not far from the main village. Follow the old cobbled paths, trek up the winding hills and you may be surprised at what you discover. The town is a great place to relax and unwind – whether you are making a day trip or planning an extended stay.