Lombardy was first inhabited by Celtic peoples from the 5th century BC, conquered by Rome after the Second Punic War and became part of Cisalpine Gaul. It became the centre of the kingdom of the Lombards in the 6th century A.D. and part of the Charlemagne’s empire in 774.
During the Middle Ages, many of the towns in Lake Como became self-governing municipalities; they formed the Lombard League of Cities and won independence by defeating Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1176. Thereafter the area was later ruled by Spain, Austria and then France between 1535-1814. In 1859, Lombardy joined the unified Italy.
Lake Como was popular with the nearby Milanese gentry and soon began to attract other Europeans, (especially the English) during the 17th century. Queen Caroline of England visited Lake Como in 1816 and stayed in Cernobbio (just north of Como on the western branch of the lake), an area known for its beautiful gardens.
To date Lake Como remains as one of the main tourist destinations with many celebrities purchasing property along the lakeside.