Owing to the surrounding mountains that create the unique micro-climate on Lake Como, the area is covered with lush vegetation which includes; vines and fig, pomegranate, olive, chestnut, and oleander trees. Chestnut and conifer woods and large areas of pastureland cover the mountain slopes. You can also find exotic species such as cypresses and bay trees, citrus trees, palm trees, azaleas, cacti and camellias which are typical of a Mediterranean climate.
Rice, cereals, forage, flax, and sugar beets are the main crops of Lombardy, and the mulberry is extensively cultivated for use in sericulture. There is also fishing for trout, eel, and agoni, a type of herring found in the lake.
Italians are keen gardeners and you will see balconies adorned with cascading geranium and pergolas covered in well aged wisteria. One plant that adorns many gardens here is the star jasmine, it’s scientific name being “trachelospermum jasminodes”. Otherwise known as “falso gelsomino” or the fake jasmine, because technically speaking, it is not really a “true” jasmine – these are members of genus Jasminum, an evergreen vine or spreading shrub in the Apocynaceae or dogbane family, but is so called due to the wonderful jasmine-like perfume produced by the flowers on this vine. Whereas the true jasmines are more delicate and require a temperate semi-tropical climate to grow, the star jasmine variety we see on the lake thrives even in northern Italy where temperatures can drop sub-zero in the coldest winter months. It is an incredibly hardy plant that takes well in the soil around this area but can also be grown in containers. An evergreen that keeps its leaves even after the flowering season is over, it is a climber that works well as covers on fences, pergolas and walls. This plant is a perennial, so once it takes root, all you need to do is to replenish its thirst and give lots of appreciation for its rustic beauty hence one of the reasons that the star jasmine is ubiquitous and is strongly associated with imagery of the lake. However the most outstanding feature of this plant is the intense perfume released by the white star shaped flowers which typically begin blooming in May-June and continue until after the summer. Once you recognize its intense smell, it will follow you everywhere during the blooming season and will become very much a part of your memory of the warmer weather on Lake Como.