Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian, also known as Lario, after the Latin name of the lake; Lach de Comm in Lombard; Latin: Larius Lacus) is a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy. It has an area of , making it the third-largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 200 meters deep, it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. 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, Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho, Sylvester Stallone, Julian Lennon, Richard Branson, Ben Spies, and Pierina Legnani. Lake Como is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe.
The Lake Como ferry service is a highly developed public transport system linking the many small towns around the Lake. A motorized service began in 1826 when a steamship with sails, the “Lario”, was launched by the newly established Società privilegiata per l'impresa dei battelli a vapore nel Regno Lombardo Veneto. Since 1952 the system has been run under the auspices of a government organization called first the Gestione Commissariale Governativa and subsequently the Gestione Governativa Navigazione Laghi, which is also responsible for services on Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda.Massimo Gozzi, "History of Navigation on Lake Como",
The lake is shaped much like the letter " Y". The northern branch begins at the town of Colico, while the towns of Como and 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. Lake Como is fed primarily by the Adda River, which enters the lake near Colico and flows out at Lecco. This geological conformation makes the southwestern branch a dead end, and so Como, unlike Lecco, is often flooded. 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 beheld 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".