Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian, also known as Lario; Lach de Comm in Insubric; Latin: Larius Lacus) is a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy. It has an area of 146 km², making it the third largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 400 m (1320 ft) deep it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe and the bottom of the lake is more than 200 metres (656 ft) below sea-level.
The lake is shaped much like the character “Y”. The northern branch begins at the town of Colico, while the towns of Como and Lecco sit at the ends of the southwestern and southeastern branches respectively. The small towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna are situated at the intersection of the three branches of the lake: a triangular boat service operates between them.
The lake's name in Latin is Larius, Italianized as Lario, but this name is rarely used; it is usually called Lago di Como (literally "Lake of Como"). In guidebooks the lake may be variously described as "Lake Como", "Lake of Como", or "Como Lake." The lake's name comes from the town of Como, known to the Romans as Comum.
Lake Como weather is generally mild. It is known for its Mediterranean-like climate where tropical and sub-tropical plants can grow year-round. In the winter, the lake helps to maintain a relatively higher temperature in the surrounding region (since water releases heat energy more slowly than air). Average daily maxima range from about 13 °C (55 °F) in December to 30 °C (85 °F) in July. Water temperatures can reach an average of 24°C (75°F) during the month of July. Snowfall is erratic and primarily affects the higher elevations. Rainfall is heaviest in May and lowest during the winter months.
The lake is well-known for the attractive villas which have been built here since Pliny the Younger constructed the Comedia and the Tragedia. Many have admirable gardens which benefit from the mild climate induced by the stabilising presence of 22.5 km³ of lake water and are able to include tropical as well as temperate plants.