Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian, also known as Lario, after the Latin name of the lake) is a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy. It has an area of 146 square kilometres (56 sq mi), making it the third-largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 400 metres (1,300 feet) deep, it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe, and the bottom of the lake is more than 200 metres (660 ft) below sea level.
Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times, and a very popular tourist attraction with many artistic and cultural gems. It has many villas and palaces (such as Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni, and Villa Carlotta). Many famous people have or have had homes on the shores of Lake Como, such as Matthew Bellamy, John Kerry, Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho, Sylvester Stallone, Julian Lennon, Richard Branson, Ben Spies, and Pierina Legnani.
The lake is shaped much like the letter “Y”. The northern branch begins at the town of Colico, while the towns of Comoand Lecco sit at the ends of the southwestern and southeastern branches respectively. The small towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Lierna are situated at the intersection of the three branches of the lake: a triangular boat service operates between them. The Lierna area is an historical charming site of the lake with a white beach and a famous castle. The mountainous pre-alpine territory between the two southern arms of the lake (between Como, Bellagio and Lecco) is known as the Larian Triangle, or Triangolo lariano. The source of the river Lambro is here. At the centre of the triangle, the town of Canzo is the seat of the Comunità montana del Triangolo lariano, an association of the 31 municipalities that represent the 71,000 inhabitants of the area. As a tourist destination, Lake Como is popular for its landscapes, wildlife and spas. It is a venue for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. In 1818 Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Thomas Love Peacock: “This lake exceeds anything I ever be held in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests”.