Giada De Laurentiis Recommends This Town For The Best Authentic Lake Como Experience

A lake of luxury and leisure perched underneath the snow-capped Alps of Italy's northern Lombardy region, these sparkling shores showcase the best of this European country in one sun-soaked canvas. Lake Como is one of the best places in Italy, known for its celebrity sightings, luxury villas, and picturesque villages along its waterfront. As a coveted destination for tourists hoping to lounge in the Italian sunshine, it can be all too easy for the beautiful essence of Italian culture to get lost in the midst of opulent consumerism. Popular towns on Lake Como, like Bellagio and Varenna, hold much of the power and wealth of this lake, while restorative hamlets, such as Lecco, provide a laid-back environment to bask in the beauty of Italy's coastal alpine territory.

Italian American entrepreneur Giada De Laurentiis is all too familiar with the best regions of Italy, having grown up immersed in Italian culture. According to a post from Laurentiis's iconic lifestyle blog, Lecco is a hidden gem without all the crowds. Nestled on the eastern edge of Lake Como, Lecco is the place Italian locals flock to on the weekends, admired for its quiet, pristine shores that outshine even the ritziest towns of Lake Como. Not to mention, a visit to Lecco often comes with a cheaper price tag. Aside from its reputation as the featured setting for the 19th-century novel, "The Betrothed," Lecco locals enjoy panoramic views of their lakeside home, homemade olive oil, and neoclassical architecture.

Get lost in seaside paradise

As the hub of life and activity in Lecco, Piazza Cermenati is a great launching platform for your visit. This town square is rich in local culture and is peppered with vintage cafés, artisan boutiques, and historic landmarks. It's also home to the Basilica of San Nicolò, adorned with a Gothic bell tower — a historical remnant of Lecco's history. As a walkable city, consider strolling Lungolago, the seaside promenade of Lecco. It winds several miles around the interior of the hamlet, and there are few better spots to digest the picturesque views of this underrated town offering a laid-back coastal vacation.

Anyone who's perused the streets of Florence is familiar with the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge that links the two sides of the Arno River. While the backdrop differs, the magnificent bridge connecting Malgrate to Lecco is an equally breathtaking sight. Just a 30-minute walk from one town center to the other, the small commune of Malgrate is just as worthy of a stroll around town.

Meandering further into the heart of Lecco, you'll find Pescarenico, the historic fishing district of the hamlet. Fishing was the livelihood of locals during the earliest days of Lecco, and the wooden boats used by fishermen are still common in Lecco today. Visitors can thank Lecco's age-old history as a fishing port for the fresh catch brought in daily and prepared the same way it was at the beginning of Lecco's history.

Indulge in the flavors of Lombardy

This dreamy seaside spot will win over any seafood loverRistorante Orestino, for instance, specializes in Lombardy's signature maritime dishes. Risotto al pesce persico is a regional staple in Lecco, made from a savory blend of risotto and the fresh catch of the day. This lakeside eatery is sheltered by a verdant canopy of palms, and the summer months are when you'll find its dining terrace packed. 

Just because a trip to Lecco can help visitors save a few extra pennies shouldn't dispute the leisure of splurging on an upscale dinner. Nicolin is one of the best restaurants in Lecco, with a verified Michelin-starred status. The talent in this kitchen is unparalleled, with chefs guided by a triad of color, consistency, and aroma. Between its on-site herb garden, fresh-caught fish hauled in each day, and al fresco terrace covered with plane trees, it's hard to beat the dining experience at this local restaurant. Its menu ranges from paccheri (lobster and porcini mushrooms) to European bass with a caciucco sauce.

Treat yourself to a post-dinner sweet at Toldo Gelati, the only place in Lecco you should pick up gelato. This authentic Italian ice cream is made from real fresh fruit that's creamed to perfection in a blend of dried fruit and milk. Combine the best of both worlds and enjoy this indulgent sweet treat while tracing the walkway along Belvadore parco Valentino — a winding trail network that doubles as the perfect sunset point in Lecco!