Literally split in half by its famous gorge, Nesso is a picturesque village sitting on the banks of Lake Como.
Nesso is smaller than the nearby Bellagio, but it’s a real heaven for those who seek peace, tranquility, and all the regenerating aspects of slow-living.
It is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for one of the most authentic places on Lake Como, very different from the best-known destinations.
Here you can breathe in the charm of the past as you stroll through the stone-paved alleyways of the historic center, photograph one of the most scenic waterfalls on the entire lake, and take nature walks with splendid panoramic views.
Read this guide to find out the best of Nesso!
The historic center of Nesso winds around Piazza Castello, so called because it is dominated by an ancient castle of which only the stone walls and three crenellated turrets remain. This is the best place to start visiting Nesso, as the square is a stop on the C30 bus that connects Como and Bellagio.
From Piazza Castello you can already enjoy a beautiful view of the main attraction of the village – the Nesso Gorge – and the opposite shore of Lake Como (in front of you you will have the village of Brienno).
Now, if you want to experience your visit to the fullest, I recommend taking Via Coatesa and wandering through the narrow stone-paved alleyways where you will step back in time hundreds of years, passing stone houses, small stores selling only the necessities and, most importantly, tons and tons of steps.
This is probably the sore point of this town: given its conformation, not all of its areas (especially and unfortunately, the most characteristic ones) are easily accessible to those with walking problems.
In this area of the historic center are two main hamlets: Coatesa and Borgovecchio, the oldest part of the town.
Borgovecchio is home to the fascinating Church of Saints Pietro and Paolo: the church was inaugurated in 1095 by Pope Urban II, but what you see today is a Baroque-style reconstruction from the 1600s.
Those who love sacred art should see its extensively decorated interior, consisting of a single nave covered with numerous frescoes and paintings.
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The famous Nesso Gorge, locally known as Orrido di Nesso, is probably one of the best natural wonders that you can find around the lake.
Located in the picturesque hamlet of Coatesa, this is a narrow, deep natural gorge shaped over the centuries by the incessant flow of water. The gorge is home to a beautiful bubbling waterfall created by the waters of the Tuf and Nosée rivers.
The waterfall is at its best in spring or after heavy rains, which enrich the waters of the two rivers. Scattered here and there within the gorge are some remnants of the ancient machinery that operated by the force of the water flowing through the gorge.
Enjoy a stunning view of the waterfall from Ponte della Civera, a Romanesque bridge made of stone that you can reach from Piazza Castello; it’s the best place to photograph the incredible waterfall. Yes, you have to deal with something like 340 steps, but the view is worth the effort! It’s a real paradise for nature lovers. And once you’re there, you can also take the opportunity to refresh yourself with a swim in the lake.
From Piazza Castello you will also find signs for the old Strada Regia, an ancient mule track that runs through the innermost part of Nesso and was once an important route connecting the villages along the right bank of the western branch of the lake (from Como to Bellagio).
Today the Strada Regia is a pedestrian and – in some of its sections – bicycle path over 30 km (18.5 miles) long that offers beautiful views of Lake Como and will take you to discover other villages such as Pognana Lario or Lezzeno.
Valle di Nosée
The Valle di Nosée is a beautiful natural place equipped for picnicking, ideal for regenerating in nature and cooling off in the waters of the stream of the same name during the hottest summer days.
You can reach the valley by starting to climb along Salita Municipio, then continuing along Via della Castagna roughly skirting the course of the Tuf stream. This leads to Via Nosée, which leads to the scenic Roman bridge in the heart of the valley.
Among the most interesting hamlets of Nesso there is Careno, once a separate municipality which currently constitutes the southern part of the village.
Located at a short distance from the nearby village of Pognana Lario, Careno is a handful of small houses arranged in a curious triangle shape, very characteristic to view from the lake. Like the rest of the village, this hamlet is also suitable for those who do not have any particular walking problems, as the alleys through it are full of steps.
Careno hosts the amazing Church of San Martino, a Romanesque building of medieval origin dating back to – at least – 1184, the year of the document signed by Pope Lucius III in which it is first mentioned. Keys to visit the church can be obtained from the nearby Trattoria del Porto.
The church overlooks the lake and is within walking distance of a cozy grassy beach that is very popular with locals, which is why it tends to be especially crowded on summer weekends.
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Public boat tours
❗Looking for information about public boat service? Read my guide to boats and ferries on Lake Como!
Nesso has two piers: the main one is in the oldest part of the village (Borgovecchio), while the other is in the hamlet of Careno. Both are operational during the summer season, so in the off season it is best to reach Nesso by bus from Como or Bellagio.
Beaches in Nesso