Lake Como? It could be nice.

When my wife suggested going on holiday to Lake Como, my initial reaction was rather less than enthusiastic.

I knew nothing about the place, but it didn’t sound very interesting.

Mountains and water – neither of them tops my list of things to be surrounded by.

Hiking, swimming and sailing – none of them is on my list of top holiday activities.

But plans for the trip went ahead, partly because I made no effort to look for an alternative and partly because my wife made a powerful case for the lake – ‘it could be nice’.

To be fair, that opinion was supported by a stunning photograph of the view of the lake and hillside from the apartment. But there are lies, damned lies and views from the balcony.

So my mood on the plane heading down to Bergamo was more resigned than excited. Then something happened that began to change my attitude. We flew over the Italian Lakes, on a clear day. What we saw was nothing less than breathtaking – I’d never seen anything like it before.

And when we got to the apartment, we found that the view from the balcony was every bit as good as the photograph.

And that was just the beginning of a week in which I realised that while the northern end of the lake focuses on vigorous water-sports and mountain pursuits, the mid-lake area and western branch give you the opportunity to relax, in a paradise where almost nothing is ugly, the different elements fit together in perfect harmony and you can make day trips to places like Milan and St Moritz.