1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Como, Lake of

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21848131911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 6 — Como, Lake ofWilliam Augustus Brevoort Coolidge

COMO, Lake of (the Lacus Larius of the Romans, and so sometimes called Lario to the present day, though in the 4th century it is already termed Lacus Comacinus), one of the most celebrated lakes in Lombardy, Northern Italy. It lies due N. of Milan and is formed by the Adda that flows through the Valtelline to the north end of the lake (here falls in the Maira or Mera, coming from the Val Bregaglia) and flows out of it at its south-eastern extremity, on the way to join the Po. Its area is 551/2 sq. m., it is about 43 m. from end to end (about 301/2 m. from the north end of Bellagio), it is from 1 to 21/2 m. in breadth, its surface is 653 ft. above the sea, and its greatest depth is 1365 ft. A railway line now runs along its eastern shore from Colico to Lecco (241/2 m.), while on its western shore Menaggio is reached by a steam tramway from Porlezza on the Lake of Lugano (8 m.). Colico, at the northern extremity, is by rail 17 m. from Chiavenna and 42 m. from Tirano, while at its southern end Como (on the St Gotthard line) is 32 m. from Milan, and Lecco about the same distance. The lake fills a remarkable depression which has been cut through the limestone ranges that enclose it, and once doubtless extended as far as Chiavenna, the Lake of Mezzola being a surviving witness of its ancient bed. Towards the south the promontory of Bellagio divides the lake into two arms. That to the south-east ends at Lecco and is the true outlet, for the south-western arm, ending at Como, is an enclosed bay. During the morning the Tivano wind blows from the north, while in the afternoon the Breva wind blows from the south. But, like other Alpine lakes, the Lake of Como is exposed to sudden violent storms. Its beauties have been sung by Virgil and Claudian, while the two Plinys are among the celebrities associated with the lake. The shores are bordered by splendid villas, while perhaps the most lovely spot on it is Bellagio, built in an unrivalled position. Among the other villages that line the lake, the best-known are Varenna (E.) and Menaggio (W.), nearly opposite one another, while Cadenabbia (W.) faces Bellagio.  (W. A. B. C.)