Over the last decade, Lake Como has become extremely popular for luxury destination Lake Como weddings, and celebrities summer vacations. But the area isn’t just for influencers, actors and their holiday houses. Lake Como has quickly become one of the top global destinations for weddings. Which works out wonderfully for me, since Lake Como is one of my favorite locations to shoot. If you’re in the midst of planning a Lake Como wedding, you’ll want to keep on reading…
Enveloped by the picturesque foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, Lake Como offers an exquisite setting that can elevate any occasion to sheer perfection. In this post, my focus will be exclusively on Lake Como weddings, as I’m frequently asked for recommendations as a destination wedding photographer. So, let’s dive right into it.
If you’re thinking about having a wedding in Italy—or anywhere in Europe, for that matter—Lake Como really is one of my top recommendations.
In this post, I’ll be going over everything Lake Como wedding related—including Lake Como hotels, Lake Como restaurants, Lake Como tours, Lake Como venues, and special suggestions for what to do in Lake Como. So think of this blog post as your complete guide to planning a Lake Como wedding.
When it comes to choosing a venue for your Lake Como wedding, you really are spoiled for choice. There are most definitely a lot of stunning Lake Como Wedding venues to choose from, but here are my five favorite Lake Como wedding venue options. (If you want an even more exhaustive list of wedding venue contenders, I highly recommend you check out The Lake Como Wedding Planner’s list!)
On the western shores of Lake Como—in Ossuccio, more specifically—sits the iconic Villa Balbiano, one of the most jaw-dropping Italian palazzos of all time. It was built by Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio in the late 16th century and is the largest private residence on Lake Como.
Villa Balbiano boasts waterfront views, famous gardens, an opulent outdoor swimming pool, a private pier, a beautiful boathouse, as well as countless historical pieces of art and furniture. As far as I’m concerned, the entire Villa Balbiano is a historical piece of art.
From a photographer’s perspective, it doesn’t get much better. Villa Balbiano is a timeless classic—and arguably one of the venues that first help set Lake Como on the map for destination weddings. Definitely can’t mention Lake Como wedding venues without mentioning Villa Balbiano! Also, ever since the movie House of Gucci have been shot here, Villa Balbiano has acquired a whole new fascination for me!! (For private rental, visit The Heritage Collection.)
Coming at you once again from west Lake Como—in Cernobbio—I have to recommend Villa Erba, a truly awe-inspiring 19th century masterpiece. The Villa was originally built for the Italian noble Erba family and was later frequented by the famous Italian film director Luchino Visconti.
Being on this property immediately transports you to another world—and being inside it is almost indescribable. Ancient frescoes, intricate moldings, lovely terraces, old music playing at almost all times…
Villa Erba is one of the best Lake Como wedding venues imaginable. The back terrace is an incredible ceremony location and the photo angles are frankly endless. (For more information, visit the official website for Villa Erba.)
Also on the western part of Lake Como—in Tremezzo—is the neoclassical Villa Sola Cabiati, one of the most extravagant historic residences in Italy’s Lombardy region. It was built in the early 16th century as a commission for the Duchess of Carretto and was later purchased by the Italian noble Serbelloni family in the 18th century. Now, the Villa is managed by (and only available through booking with) nearby Hotel Tremezzo.
The Villa’s interiors are something of a daydream—beautiful Italian pastels, elaborate halls filled with endless pieces of historical art, decor, and furniture, detailed gardens overlooking the water, and a gorgeous outdoor pool. Villa Sola Cabiati is an absolutely stunning Lake Como wedding venue! (For bookings, visit The Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s website.)
My fourth Lake Como wedding venue recommendation is also on the west side of the lake. This list simply wouldn’t be complete without Villa Pizzo—one of the oldest residences on Lake Como.
Villa Pizzo is located in Cernobbio, and it’s quite possibly the most romantic-looking building in the entire Lake Como region. Dating back to the 15th century, Villa Pizzo’s facade is a distressed, pastel, rose-colored hue—unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The beautiful exterior is made even more gorgeous by the envelopment of its vibrant gardens. Villa Pizzo is hands down one of my favorite Lake Como wedding venues—ever! (For reservations, visit the official website of Villa Pizzo.)
Villa del Balbianello is located on a wooded promontory, offering an enchanted view of Lake Como. This elegant, romantic 18th century mansion and its magnificent garden have hosted writers, scholars and travelers, including Count Guido Monzino, the last owner of the Villa.
Words cannot describe the beauty of Lake Como, especially if you see it from the gardens of this Exclusive Villa, famous for having been the setting of well-known Hollywood movies!
This gorgeous Villa is located on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore of the southwest branch of Lake Como.
Built at the end of the 18th century, according to Cardinal’s Angelo Maria Durini will, this extraordinary villa rises at the edge of a promontory, overlooking Lake Como, almost facing the nice town of Bellagio. This magnificent villa is known for its picturesque gardens, where flowers and trees feature the colors of the Italian flag: green, white and red.
Much like with wedding venues, there are endless viable Lake Como hotel options! But—to make your Lake Como wedding planning experience a bit less overwhelming—I’ve compiled a list of my top 3 recommendations for which Lake Como hotels to book for your Lake Como wedding. Whichever one you choose, trust and believe—you will not be disappointed.
Located in Cernobbio, Italy, Villa D’Este has been one of the best hotels on Lake Como since the late 19th century (and before that— between the 16th and early 19th century—it was a royal residence).
Less than 4 miles from the breathtaking Basilica di Sant’Abbondio, Villa D’Este has everything you think it does: white glove service, gilded facades, ornate (yet timeless) interiors, 3 premier restaurants and bars, luxurious rooms with balconies and terraces (with the option of full dining rooms and kitchens), outdoor seating and lounging, a pool ON THE LAKE, and glorious gardens.
The terrain-facing facade is truly one of the most gorgeous feats of architecture/design I’ve ever seen. And the landscaping? Simple, yet incredible. Villa D’Este is truly a marvel—and definitely one of the best Lake Como hotels! (For more details, visit the official Villa D’Este website.)
Located in Tremezzina, Hotel Tremezzo is iconic. You probably already know all about it. It’s considered one of the best hotels—if not the best hotel—in the entirety of Italy. I’ve admired its chic pool and regal rooms for years. And while I’ve never stayed here myself, I always go out of my way to drop by, snap some photos, and order an Aperol spritz and a bowl of pasta.
It’s unreal—and it’s the perfect place to people-watch the day away. Oh, and the pizza in the garden? Hidden gem. Endowed with its own gallery, spa, lakeside lounges, gastronomic dining, boat excursions, and personal chauffeur options, your wedding guests would pretty much be guaranteed to forever remember their experience at Hotel Tremezzo—one of the absolute best Lake Como hotels.
Also… Remember my mention of Villa Sola Cabiati (one of my favorite Lake Como wedding venues)? Well, Hotel Tremezzo manages Villa Sola Cabiati—and it’s extremely close by. So the venue-hotel combination would make for a very convenient possibility. (For booking information, visit Hotel Tremezzo’s official website.)
The main villa was built for an opera singer with the delightful name of Giuditta (“Judith”) Pasta. After changing hands several times over the years, and adding outbuildings, the estate opened in 2010 as a rather solemn hotel called CastaDiva Resort, which never really hit its stride. Taken over by the Mandarin Oriental group in 2018, it reopened in April 2019 after a major refurb.
I love the Mandarin Oriental Lake Como because it’s everything we’ve come to expect from the brand, but with a light-hearted Italian touch. With its own lake frontage, the hotel is a private enclave that most guests never leave, except maybe to take a motorboat cruise across to Cernobbio on the western shore or north to pretty Bellagio.
In conclusion I think that the Mandarin Oriental Lake Como is a lovely, dress-for-dinner kind of place but somehow laid-back at the same time, glamorous yet also discreet.
I probably don’t have to tell you that pretty much anywhere you go in Italy is going to have to-die-for food. It’s Italy! But since I’ve been lucky enough to shoot many weddings in the region, I really do have favorites. And if you choose to have your wedding somewhere in the Lake Como region, you have to explore the area’s dining options. Because they’re pretty legendary.
With that being said, here is the best Lake Como restaurant, and it would make also a lovely rehearsal dinner venue.
Alright, after going through all the Lake Como wedding venues, Lake Como Hotels and Lake Como restaurants, it would be a disservice on my part not sharing how much more this area of Italy has to offer! Especially to couples considering a destination wedding there, Lake Como is packed with activities you can choose from. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Lake Como.
When I’m in Italy, it’s really hard for me to restrain myself when it comes to shopping. Because there are beautiful, handcrafted, artisanal, high-quality items everywhere you look. But sometimes in life (especially during special occasions—like a wedding), you’ve just gotta treat yourself. And even if you decide not to fill up your suitcase with treasures, just browsing alone is enough of a treat! It’s an experience.
And take it from me, you can have a lovely Lake Como shopping experience browsing and admiring all the unique handiwork, wares and craftsmanship. Here are some of my recommendations for Lake Como shopping.
In Lenno, you can snag a bottle of authentic, artisan olive oil from Premiato Oleificio Vanini Osvaldo! A great bottle of Italian olive oil is the one thing that’s both affordable and useful. It’s absolutely delicious. I’ve been known to check a case of this stuff at the airport.
If you’re looking for a bit of Italian flair, you have to check out A. Picci—an authentic Italian silk shop in Como. Inside, you can find silk stoles, ties, scarves, pocket squares, handkerchiefs, scrunchies, bowties, ponchos, and more—all hand-sewn locally. It’s pretty special.
If you’re in need of some new shoes, be sure to stop in at Il Capriccio in Bellagio. They sell all sorts of shoes—sophisticated, sporty, classic. You’re sure to find whatever you’re looking for, and the customer service is top-notch. While Bellagio is pretty touristy, it’s still a must-see while in the Lake Como region.
No matter which region you ultimately decide on for your Lake Como wedding, you have to get out on the lake. It’s non-negotiable! The views of Lake Como are especially extraordinary from a boat. You’re sure to spot a celebrity home or two, beautiful Villas, charming little towns, and historical landmarks.
Being out on Lake Como really is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. You don’t want to miss out on it. And there are plenty of boating options for you to choose from. So you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.
With that being said, here are some of my top recommendations for boating in Lake Como.
While in the Lake Como area for your wedding, you and your guests can take a public or private high-speed ferry to Bellagio, Varenna, Como, or even one of the historical villas/hotels I mentioned earlier in this post. High-speed ferries really are the perfect way to get to where you’re going without spending the whole day traveling. When you’re in this region, this is a very efficient and fun way to get around!
If you’re more interested in boating in one area of Lake Como, I’d definitely recommend Como’s classic (and very Instagram-worthy) riva boats. They’re gorgeous, authentic, and extremely elegant—perfect for a romantic experience.
Whether it’s hopping on the high-speed ferry, grabbing a ride on the wooden boats, or renting a simple, little boat yourself—getting on the lake is a must.
When you book your wedding in Lake Como, you have got to find some time to get out and explore the area on foot. There’s just something about the lake’s surrounding terrain. It’s truly breathtaking. Also—you’ve got to burn off some of those calories you’re bound to be accumulating! You do not want to pass up the chance to hike and explore the natural beauty of this area. So, here are my top recommendations for hiking in the Lake Como region.
The most accessible (and probably the most pleasant—and least challenging) hiking trail in the entire Lake Como area is the Lake Como Greenway. The locals call it, Greenway del Lago di Como. It begins at Colonno. The Greenway passes through the towns of Colonno, Sala Comacina, Tremezzina, and Griante, and it ends at Cadenabbia di Griante, which is a pretty central area of Lake Como.
The trail is just over 6 miles, and is my favorite hiking option in all of Lake Como. It’s pleasant, gorgeous, and full of history. The Greenway follows the ancient Via Regina, the Roman-built road connecting Como with other regions over the Alps. Along Greenway del Lago di Como, you’ll see tons of nature, awe-inspiring architecture, fantastic Villas, and lush gardens. You could spend days exploring!
If you’re up for more of a challenge, you can check out Monte Legnone. Though I wouldn’t blame you if you felt a bit intimidated by this enormous mountain. Monte Legnone can be seen from almost anywhere on Lake Como. At over 1.6 miles high, it’s iconic. It’s the tallest peak in the entire region. I haven’t hiked it, but I would be remiss to not mention Monte Legnone. Regardless of where you and your loved ones choose to hike, the Lake Como region will not disappoint. You’re bound to have an unforgettable experience.
In all my years as a global destination, editorial, and wedding photographer, I’ve gotta say—Lake Como is one of my favorite places in the entire world to shoot. When clients choose this area for their weddings, I get all giddy. It’s just that incredible.
Hopefully, this post has given you a pretty good glimpse into what the Lake Como region of northern Italy has to offer as a wedding destination. I hope I was able to convey the magnificence of the area. And if you do decide to have your wedding in the Lake Como region, I’d be honored to offer you additional guidance.
And if you have any questions about your Lake Como wedding, I highly recommend reaching out to The Lake Como Wedding Planner. Whenever someone is planning a wedding or shoot on Lake Como, they are the first names that I bring up.