As you will no doubt know, Italy is famed for its design; from fashion to furniture. If you love to shop or are looking for a special gift you will not be disappointed. No Lake Como holiday would be complete without splashing out on some serious Lake Como shopping.
Around Como there are many small shops and boutiques, and in the larger towns you will find a great range of boutiques, designer stores and department stores. Wherever you are, you are never far from great shopping.
Then of course there is Milan. Need we say more!
Below is a selection of shopping highlights - be warned your credit card may well take a beating!
Butti - Como Butti is a designer leather goods retailer in the heart of Como, selling shoes bags and accessories. It carries both mens and ladies ranges and offers ranges from designers including Hogan, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, John Richmond, plus many others. With such a wide choice their stock is limited, however there is something for everyone. The shop is well designed, reflecting its designer profile. Via Vittorio Emanuele, 1 +39 031 263377
Max Mara - Como Max Mara staff are without doubt some of the best in the business. Expect amazing service and very good value from Italy's leading mid-market design house.
The ranges and the store are always well laid out with collections that both reflect the latest trends for the more adventurous, but also for those looking for classics that are well tailored and accessible, yet affordable.
You can go into any Max Mara for great service, but this store in particular has service that is second to none. The staff in Como will give you a personal shopping experience and get you in colours and styles that you would never choose yourself, and will help you, without obligation, to purchase the season's wardrobe in one shop.
They will make a fuss of you no matter how much you are going to spend.
Thankfully, they also have seating for bored partners and children! Via Vittorio Emanuele, 87 +39 031 262321
Max Mara - Como Located in the centre of town, this fantastic little boutique stocks both mens and ladies' fashions and features some great pieces from Prada, Miu Miu, Matinique, Stone Island plus much more.
Aldo Savorani is very season focussed so expect to find the latest pieces, but also some amazing end of season bargains
So for those times when you need a little local retail therapy for either a t-shirt and jeans for something special or for a night out, this little gem hits the spot.
Via delle Rose, 28 0039 0344 32256
Decio - Menaggio This beautiful homeware boutique in the heart of Menaggio is just the place if you want to take away a piece of Italian style for your home.
The shop display is very cosy with individual themes showing the very best of Italian interior style. With an abundance of bed linen (large stockists of Bossi), glassware, soft furnishings, candles, tableware, bathroom and kitchenware, plus and a multitude of curios for your home.
Via Lusardi 22 +39 0344 31195
Tessabit - Como Tessabit have 13 individual stores in the centre of Como, stocking clothes and accessories for men, women and children. The stylish stores dotted around the town stock the full spectrum of designer goods including leather, suits, denim, sportswear, evening wear and couture.
Designers include Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Gucci, Cavalli, John Richmond, Burberry - they really do represent the very best of regional Italian fashion retailing in beautiful cool contemporary surroundings.
With prices from around 50 to 5,000 Euros there is definitely an extensive choice regardless of age, budget or gender.
The best strategy for navigating the stores is to visit the website below or to visit one of the stores and pick up a map which shows the location of each store. The centre of Como is pedestrianised and quite compact so you can easily visit them all.
Foxtown - Mendrisio Foxtown is a designer outlet located a very short drive across the border into Switzerland, close to Como town. Although Foxtown is in a shopping mall, with a shopping experience more akin to stores in the UK or USA, it truly is like nothing you will have seen anywhere else. It is absolutely crammed with virtually every designer outlet shop - approximately 120 of them.
There are incredible deals and although some of the stock is typical of designer outlets elsewhere, the difference is that you can find popular lines in the sizes you require.
Highlights include Armani, Burberry, Cerruti, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Missoni, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, YSL, Valentino, Versace, plus many more.
For full details check out www.foxtown.ch
Lugano - Swiss/Italian Border As the name would suggest, Lugano is located at one end of Lake Lugano, just across the border into Switzerland and no more than an hour from Lake Como, by car or bus. The town centre is a sympathetic pastiche of new and old and is beautifully kept with many old cobbled streets playing host to some of the very finest shops in the region.
It's great all year round and is particularly attractive pre-Christmas as it is decorated in a Dickensian style.
It is easy to spend a day wandering the streets and passages of Lugano, such as the lovely Via Nassa, where you will find fashion (like the small independent boutiques), jewellery (Cartier have a large store here), antiques and some gorgeous pastry and chocolate shops that are truly mouth-watering.
The old market too is a culinary delight. After a hard morning's retail, you can enjoy great food in many of the town's restaurants and cafes or get something wonderful to take away and sit on the stunning lakeside. Then if you want to amuse the children you can take a small road train around the Lugano shoreline or a ride on the traditional merry-go-round.