Driving time from Milan Malpensa: 40 minutes
Cernobbio is one of the best known and most popular towns on Lake Como. It is the home to Villa d’Este, the hotel often voted by Forbes magazine as the world’s best hotel, and host to many international events topped by the annual vintage car show, the Concorso d’Eleganza. Throughout its open season from March to November Villa d’Este attracts the wealthy and famous along with a mix of guests who simply take the chance to enjoy the wonderful lakefront setting, dining terraces and the floating swimming pool. Nearby Villa Erba also hosts or plays joint host to many events.
Cernobbio is a wonderful place to take your time and watch the world from the lakefront piazza, to visit Harry’s Bar on the lakefront for a meal or one of the other lakefront cafes which are delightful to sit out at during the warmer months and on those lovely warm sunny days that often take you by pleasant surprise in Spring and Autumn.
The lakefront area is only a small part of the town of Cernobbio, which stretches up into the hills behind. The Gatto Nero restaurant, several minutes’ drive upwards from the lakeshore road, is one of the finest restaurants on Lake Como and offers a chance to dine alongside its well known international clientele.
Immediately behind the lakefront piazza are narrow streets with arty shops and a few small traditional restaurants or trattorias. You may not have the lake view, but authentic home cooking and a cheerful service, coupled with less spectacular prices, make it worthwhile hunting these out.
Many describe Cernobbio as the ‘Chelsea’ or ‘Beverley Hills’ of Lake Como, yet you will find that it has surprisingly few international home owners. There are very few lakefront properties and most of the large villas set back further on the flat area of the town do not have lake views, so do not appeal to international buyers. International buyers need to drive uphill, back from the lake for 5 to 10 minutes to find property that appeals and away from road noise. Even then relatively few international buyers have chosen to buy their Lake Como property in Cernobbio Alta, so it retains its largely Italian character. Many seeking luxury properties wish to be close to the lake and that is not feasible in Como except with a very substantial budget, and even then choice is restricted.
This may be about to change to some extent as there is more space for building new homes higher up in Cernobbio Alta and there are several building projects underway – combining wonderful views of Lake Como with a sunny, peaceful location and a property configured more to international tastes. For some the proximity to the charm and attractions of Cernobbio with excellent views over Lake Como will make this an appealing location to buy your home on Lake Como. Couple this with the quick access to the City of Como, the international motorway system and the Swiss border and the advantages are obvious.
Many international buyers arrive with the certainty that Cernobbio is where they’d like to buy their property on Lake Como, but the majority conclude that they prefer to look for charming villages or a home much closer to the lake. Cernobbio remains a place to spend time, to enjoy the bustle of the town, the hum of the busy restaurants in the centre, and the tranquil delights of Villa d’Este. There is understandably a premium on buying a property in Cernobbio given its quality, charm and popularity.
Our view: Cernobbio is a charming town with a well-deserved reputation as a place to spend time. It is very busy (especially in the summer) and with its deservedly up-market reputation the higher prices and lack of reasonably priced properties close to the lakeshore with views of Lake Como mean that generally it is of most interest to those wanting to buy a property on Lake Como who place a premium on the convenience of its location.