Shop till you drop on Lake Como!
Shopping in Italy is basically a full-time occupation. No one is more dedicated to window shopping and “building a wardrobe” than the average Italian. In fact, you’ll find as many windows dedicated to men’s fashion as to women’s in Italy (rather rare in other countries!) and the men give the ladies a run for their money when it comes to shopping and looking good.
It’s no secret that nearby Milan is a veritable mecca for most fashionistas, but Lake Como holds its own in the shopping department, providing ample opportunities to browse for clothes, artisanal crafts, leather goods or delicious Italian delicacies. For guests of the Palazzo, we are always happy to provide personalized tips and tricks for shoppers with a particular goal in mind, and we know a good few shop owners personally, who will be thrilled to welcome you as honored guests in their boutiques and delicatessens.
The following is a basic introduction to some of the best shopping malls, outlets and markets in and around Lake Como for your perusing pleasure!
At the Palazzo, we’re lucky to be just fifteen minutes by car – or about 25 by public transportation – from the so-called “Pearl of the Lario”, Bellagio. This quaint little town has a population of about 3700 souls (that is less than half of the workforce at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas!!), which swells to many times that number during the summer. Bellagio does a good job of providing shops for a wide variety of interests and budgets, and browsing the boutiques is a great way to spend a day. Plus, you are never far from a gelateria, a restaurant or a bar to rest your feet from all of the shopping and refresh!
You can either get off the bus or park your car in the small parking lot by the Bellagio ferry stop, which is the ideal place to start your browsing trip of Bellagio. The street known as “Lungo Lario” runs along the lake and should be your first port of call. As you make your way into town along the Lungo Lario, enjoying the merciful shade of the awnings and the porticos, these are some of the highlights:
Delicious handmade ice creams and sorbets are just what you need when the day is hot. So, either start your shopping trip with an energy-boosting scoop or come back later!
The first of the fine fashion shops in town is also one of the best places to window shop. Venture inside for a great selection of ladies and gents fashions, including fab Italian accessories like leather belts and bags, cool shoes and miles of scarves made with Como silk.
Corner Shop/Bellagio New Wave/Gold Crown Shop
As you make your way through the small underpass and into the porticos lining the lake, there are lovely jewelry shops on either side with some very unique offerings.
This is a classic Bellagio bar with ornately carved wood paneling and mirrors inside and tables outside either under the portico or on the street, which give you some of the best people watching in town!
Barindelli & Trezzi
Further down on the right, don’t miss this accessories emporium that is filled to the rafters with elegant silk ties and scarves, and fine Italian leather wallets, belts and bags. And with their stylish umbrellas, you’ll even be stylish in a downpour!
The Nenè boutique under the arches is a Bellagio institution – the family who run this super chic boutique also offer accommodation and a small deli and bar in Bellagio’s San Giovanni hamlet. Don’t miss this boutique – where everyone who’s anyone in Bellagio shops for gorgeous fashions!
Follow the road as it curves right and heads uphill, with the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni on your left. When you get to Babayaga pizzeria (one of our favorites!) and the Fresia art gallery, turn right onto Via Roma and follow along past the San Giovanni church.
This very traditional shop sells beautiful Lake Como silk scarves, handmade Italian leather bags and shoes as well as a few fashion items.
Further up on your right is this lovely delicatessen shop, filled to the rafters with oils, pastas, spirits, dried mushrooms and other delicacies. They’ll also make sandwiches for customers from the deli counter for a picnic by the lake!
This is an artisan’s paradise – shelves and tables full of hand-carved wooden goodies from olive wood bowls and trays to colorful wooden toys and ornate inlaid wooden boxes.
Tacchi is at the top of the so-called “Salita Serbelloni”, the stairs leading back down to lake level, which is lined with souvenir shops, restaurants and one particularly tempting wine shop – here are a couple of our favorites:
Arte e Moda
This high fashion shop has exquisite silk wares, like the gorgeous handbags, stoles and ties from designer Pierangelo Masciadri (who may be puttering about the store!).
A wine shop to end all wine shops, with a self-service tasting machine that runs on a debit card you get at the cash desk (bonus: they offer shipping worldwide!).
Another fab silk emporium, the lovely ladies who own this shop are wonderful consultants and raconteurs.
There are eye-catching goodies on every corner of this vast shop, from souvenirs to jewelry, leather goods, hats and scarves.
Como town is the capital of the Province of Como and the area’s largest city. That said, it is still pretty easy to navigate and small enough to browse from end to end in a single day. Whether you arrive by car from the Palazzo or by public ferry, the lakeside park is a good place to start. Have a look at the Tempio Voltiano and the beautiful Como Cathedral, before starting to browse along Via Vittorio Emanuele II.
Via Vittorio Emanuele II
This street has a range of shops offering high fashion and fast fashion, with well-known Italian brands like Yamamay (underwear and beach wear), Mondadori (books), Bata (shoes) and Città del Sole (educational toys). It is also home to luxury fashions like Max Mara, A. Picci silks and A.GI.EMME. One of our favorite shops in Como is Tessabit (They were delighted to stay at the Palazzo during one of their recent photo shoots!), which has one of its 13 shops on Via Vittorio Emanuele II. Stop in and pick up a map showing the location of the other 12 shops, each with a slightly different focus, i.e. kids, accessories, mens, evening wear and couture.
For something a bit different, venture down Via Vitani, a narrow ancient stone street where you can find some smaller and more historic boutiques, like the bookstore Plinio il Vecchio with its centuries-old timber beam ceiling, the vintage shop Lopez with jewelry and old-timey style, the fancy baby store P’Tites Canailles, and the menswear shops Vittani and Vanucci. Don’t miss the historic Osteria del Gallo, where you can buy Italian delicacies and also enjoy light bites with a glass of wine.
Shopping Malls on Lake Como
As the area’s biggest town, Como is home to most of the shopping malls on Lake Como. They center around a huge supermarket and provide smaller shops for shoes, mobile phones, etc. in addition. What they lack in charm, they make up in convenience, so they might be of use to our guests!
La Porta d’Europa Centro Commerciale
Located southwest of town on the A9 highway, this shopping mall has a huge Bennet supermarket with a good range of fresh produce and pantry items, a Bata superstore (shoes), clothing stores from Sisley to Intimissimi as well as Swarovski, Kiko makeup and Douglas cosmetics and perfumes.
Centro Commerciale Lario Center
This shopping mall is located northwest of Como town just before the Swiss border. It has a Bennet supermarket and a similar range of stores as La Porta d’Europa as well as Benetton, Geox shoes and Sephora cosmetics.
Centro Commerciale Fuentes
If you are on the northeast branch of the lake, you will want to visit Centro Commercial Fuentes. Located just outside Colico where the Adda River leads into the beautiful Valtellina valley, this shopping mall has an Iperal supermarket as well as Geox and Bata shoes, Yamamay, Goldenpoint and Tezenis intimates, and fashion brands like Via Condotti, Tally Weijl, Sisley and Camicissimi.
Outlet shopping on Lake Como
Shoppers looking for a great bargain have a variety of options on Lake Como: from the local silk manufacturers to high fashion.
Located in Mendrisio just across the Swiss border, guests at the Palazzo can be at the FoxTown outlet mall in under an hour (as long as the border crossing isn’t too crowded – don’t forget your passports!!), whether they choose to drive themselves or let us book them a driver for the day. The dizzying array of over 150 shops include fashion brands from Armani to Versace and discounted prices in shoes, sportswear, intimates, housewares and even chocolate. Lunch options vary from Swiss delicacies at the Chalet Suisse to pizza and snacks to go – and it’s open seven days a week from 11 to 7 (closed only for 5 major holidays!)!
Mantero Seta Outlet
The city of Como has been world renowned as a center for silk production since the 15th century: not only was its climate ideally suited to the mulberry trees that fed the silkworms, but its artisans and entrepreneurs proved extremely skilled in creating and marketing high-quality silk fabrics. One of these successful Lake Como companies is Mantero Seta, currently run by the fourth generation of the Mantero family. The company’s silk-screened and digitally printed silk fabrics are sold through big-name fashion labels like Vivienne Westwood and Christian Lacroix as well as under its own brand. Our partners at IC Bellagio can arrange an exclusive experience at the headquarters (including the chance to meet the exciting personalities behind the brand!) or just visit the outlet in Grandate (about 45 minutes’ drive from the Palazzo) with a wide selection of the company’s elegant shawls and stoles, ties and pocket squares are sold at competitive prices.
Frey Como Factory Store
Frey Como is another world-renowned silk producer from the Lake Como region, and their outlet is located in Fino Mornasco south of Como, about an hour from the Palazzo. From silk and jacquard scarves to the most elegant silk ties for gentlemen, the outlet sells this quality Italian craftsmanship at below-market prices.
Located in Vertemate con Minoprio south of Como (about an hour’s drive from the Palazzo), this true factory outlet has two huge floors of Armani fashions from previous seasons at low prices. Whether you are looking for clothes, shoes, bags or accessories from the legendary Made in Italy brand, this is the place to find it!
Markets on Lake Como
There are small local markets in just about every little village on Lake Como, our own market here in Lezzeno takes place on the first Wednesday morning of every month, in the parking lot near the hotel. A small selection of produce and housewares are available and our guests are very welcome to browse the market at will! Various towns will also host festivals at Easter and Christmas or during the summer with flea markets, artisanal crafts, local delicacies or featured wines. Here are a few for your perusal:
Mercato Centrale Como
This covered market on Via Mentana just south of the city center has the freshest produce, baked goods, meat and fish in the region. Housewives and restaurateurs jostle with curious tourists to haggle and taste their way through the market – a must see in Como! The market is open all day from Monday to Saturday.
Mercato dell’Antiquario di Como
In Piazza San Fedele, Como hosts an antique market on the first Saturday of each month and an artisanal market on the other three Saturdays.
Every Friday evening during the summer, Menaggio offers a great selection of antiques, handcrafted items and local food & wine on the Lungolago Castelli and in the main Piazza Garibaldi. The market is open from 6 to 10:30 p.m.
In the summer months, Varenna offers Sunday markets in Piazza San Giorgio with different themes. This year, there is a craft market on June 30th that also offers hands-on activities for children, an organic and artisanal market on July 20 and a market for crafts and collections on August 11.