Lake Como or Lago di Como in italian, lies in the northern region of Italy known as Lombardy (Lombardia) bordering on Switzerland and is approximately 40km from Milan (the capital of Lombardy region).
Due to the location of the lake it was used as a main trade route in Roman times between central Europe and Rome, this played a major role in its history ensuring prosperity but unfortunately it also lured a succession of foreign invaders.
Lombardy was first inhabited by Celtic peoples from the 5th century BC, conquered by Rome after the Second Punic War and became part of Cisalpine Gaul. It became the centre of the kingdom of the Lombards in the 6th century A.D. and part of the Charlemagne’s empire in 774. During the Middle Ages many of its towns became self-governing municipalities; they formed the Lombard League of Cities and won independence by defeating Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1176. Thereafter the are was later ruled by Spain (1535 to 1713), Austria (1713 to 1796) and France (1796 – 1814). Lombardy joined the unified Italy in 1859.
Lake Como was popular with the nearby Milanese gentry and soon began to attract other Europeans, (especially the English) during the 17th century. Queen Caroline of England visited Lake Como in 1816 and stayed in Cernobbio (just north of Como), an area known for its beautiful gardens. To date Lake Como remains as one of the main tourist destinations with many celebrities purchasing property along the lakeside.