Lake Como is home to glitz and glamour. Traditional wealth in villas and new money with flashy boats. It’s about wonderful towns that evolved from fishing villages, small to medium companies that grew the Made in Italy brand and Prosecco on the water.
But it’s not typically a lake chosen for adventure. Leave that to the windsurfers on Lake Garda, the heli-skiiers in Val d’Aosta or the rented sailboats circumnavigating Sardinia.
Except…Except Como does have its dose of adventure, it just does it in typical Como style: easy, with the luxuriousness of being completely catered to.
Most come to Lake Como to tour the magnificent gardens or simply stroll the beautiful towns, and though I’ve long argued that a visitor needs to get on the water to truly experience the lake, there’s a new way to see Lake Como… and it’s not by boat.
I recently had a ride on my very own two-seater aeroplano with Pilota per Sempre, a local pilot school near Lecco. The school’s passion is helping people to finally realize their dream of flying. For those who want to be a certified pilot, Pilota per Sempre offers courses with varying degree of stages, qualifications, technical lessons and hours of flight. For those more curious than dedicated, they’ll take you up on their the “battesimo del volo” option, or the baptism of flight.
Fly over the area between Milan, Bergamo and Lecco, including gorgeous Lake Como to see the sights from a new perspective. But it’s name implies more: this is a chance to fly your own plane (with an expert at your side, obviously). Talk about a bucket list item.
Though some might balk at the size of the plane or the small runway, the pilots were beyond professional and beyond safe; a previously planned flight was canceled when the day proved too windy to fly safely, complete safety checks of the plane were made both before and after and there are double commands during flight so the instructor can take over if necessary.
I found Pilota per Sempre thanks to a close friend who flies and works with them (you’ve got to get yourself a pilot friend!) and was so happy that he convinced me to go up. I’ve taken helicopter tours over Brice Canyon and Yellowstone, but for some reason the plane felt different. Honestly, from a passenger perspective, it wasn’t all that different and I’ve now added a plane tour to my list of incredible ways to tour a place.
Once up in the air, my friend gave the reins to me, so to speak, apparently not as worried as me about nosediving straight into a rocky ravine. Turns out, once you’re up in the air it’s not so complicated to guide a plane and the landing (which I didn’t do, of course) was remarkably smooth, over before I even realized.
Honestly, I found it exhilarating without the sharp edge of fear. There’s no time to worry when you have a private birds eye view of one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Italy. George Clooney might have a fancy speedboat, but I was flying over it on a personal trip.
Flying over the lake is not only fun, but gives travelers a much better understanding of the local geography and the lake’s unique glacial shape. What I really fell in love with, however, were the nearby mountains. For me, they proved to be more eye-catching and more interesting than even my beloved Lake Como.
Flying out over Brivio, we took a loop around Lombardy’s infamous Resegone mountain peak, a known outline in the area because of its unique saw tooth shape. From there we swooped low over Resegone’s mountain hut before going to check out other mountain huts on nearby peaks.
In one fair swoop we “climbed” mountains that would take us the entire day by foot, and I couldn’t get enough of the jagged peaks, the colors, and the secret creases and shadows of the mountain’s topography you can find only from above.
A flight usually runs roughly 30 minutes, but of course you can decide to descend earlier if you prefer. In such a small plane, you certainly feel each and every movement and some people can suffer from motion sickness. There are ventilation holes in each window that you can turn to direct the flow of air.
Located near to Lecco, Pilota per Sempre is easy to reach from Milan, Monza, Bergamo or other stops along Lake Como.
Lake Como was recently voted a top tourist destination. And travelers to Italy are always looking for a new experience and a new sight. I’d say there’s little better than experiencing Lake Como with your own personal pilot. Take that, Clooney!