Interview to Elena Markova: Editor-in-Chief for COMO LAKE Today

We recently had the pleasure of meeting Elena Markova, expert in Digital Marketing and Social Media, as well as founder of COMO LAKE Today: an online Lifestyle Magazine that offers a complete guide on the most refined and luxury places on Lake Como and deals with topics such as local tourism , gastronomy, celebrities & luxury, cultural heritage and much more. During the interview for our blog, Elena Markova shared with us details and curiosities about the magazine, her passions, and the beauties of the lake!

COMO LAKE Today: could you tell us about it and about the kickstart of such an outstanding project? 

The story of COMO LAKE Today began from an Instagram page. When I first moved to the Lake Como area, I started to discover the region and was amazed by its beauty, so I decided to share it on a dedicated Instagram page. The page began to grow and to bring together the community of Lake Como enthusiasts. We would discuss what was happening around, share experiences, bits of advice on what to do there, where to eat, etc.

I received many questions from foreigners living around Lake Como, asking for recommendations on what sort of activities to do here and for practical advice. This is how I discovered the niche for a kind of lifestyle & travel guide. After the Instagram page, I created a dedicated website. It was first in Russian, and then I made an English version too. I found a team of contributors who helped me create content and share Lake Como’s beauty worldwide.

Your background is in Digital Marketing. Did this benefit you?

Yes, for sure. My background and experience in Digital Marketing helped me to not only build a digital magazine but also to promote it quite effectively. Now COMO LAKE Today has over 38,400 followers on different platforms, allowing us to distribute the content and find new readers.

Who are your readers, and what are the the main topics?

We have a very diverse readership. The Russian language website readers are mainly from Russia, Italy, Ukraine, and the United States. The English version readers are mainly from Italy, the United States, and the UK.

Our Instagram audience is slightly different – we have followers from Italy, Russia, and the US. 

The main topics are “Useful hints” – we share our expertise as locals, how to discover Lake Como, what to do, where to go, where to eat, and so on. Lake Como “News and Events” are also very popular among our readers.

You write in Russian and English: what is behind this decision? 

We divided the project into two steps – we started with the website in Russian. The Russian-speaking community in Como Region consists of about 3,000 people. As a first language, Russian accounts for 2.3% of the global population. So, it’s quite a vast audience.

Later we added the English version, and our next target is the development in English, as English is among the three most spoken languages in the world.    

We never planned to make an Italian version, though many followers of our Instagram page are Italians, communicating with us in Italian. Our primary target audience is foreigners living around Lake Como and Lombardy and tourists coming here. 

Let’s switch to the Lake: has Como changed a lot over the past years? And so did your readers’ interests?

The Lake Como brand is growing globally, and it brings positive changes here. New hotels and restaurants open every year. The events format has changed, too. The local Christmas event “Città dei balocchi” reduces tourism seasonality, and Lake Como becomes a destination not only for summer weekends.

Of course, the current situation with COVID-19 slowed down tourism, many initiatives and fantastic events got cancelled. In this projection, our reader’s interests have also changed slightly. Fewer people can travel, so a different type of content is expected.

What are your readers’ favourite Villas on our Lake? And your ones? 

Villa del Balbianello is the absolute leader among our readers. It’s also one of my favourite villas.

It’s very particular – the heritage of Mr. Monzino, its location, its architecture, its garden, and the touching story behind it. I visit this villa 3-5 times a year. It’s great to go there regardless weather conditions. I love to just walk there in summer, in winter, whether it’s raining, or the sun is shining.

And it’s just magical! Of course, Villa Carlotta, Villa Monastero, and Villa Erba are also very attractive to our readers. Among the private villas, I very much enjoyed my visits to Villa Pliniana, Villa Pizzo, and Castello di Urio.

What would you recommend tourists to visit on their 3-day stay, so they don’t miss anything?

I always recommend starting the visit with Como city – walk in “citta’ murata”, visit the Duomo, have a coffee on Piazza Volta, and then take a boat. Lake Como should be seen from the water – it offers an entirely different perspective than by car. Another must-visits are Bellagio and Varenna. These tiny villages are so colourful and instagramable! They are unique. Visit Lake Como villas – is also a must. Its villas create the Lake’s glory. So, a tour of the estates and its parks will help you appreciate the renowned fairy-like charm of Lake Como.

And on rainy days?

The weather is not that much of an issue here, as Lake Como is always beautiful. Not only when it’s sunny, but also when there is fog, haze, or low clouds. So, rain should not stop visitors from exploring Lake Como. It’s great to visit the villas on a rainy day or take a boat cruise from Como to Bellagio or Varenna.

There are some excellent hotel SPAs for those who really can’t stand walking in the rain, which can be a great option. Alternatively – shopping. There are many shopping malls around Como.

Based on your experience, what do tourists look for? Luxury? Authenticity? Local experiences?   

Tourists are looking for the glamour and fame associated with Lake Como: villas, celebrities, luxury hotels, boats. Lake Como is a must-see in the list of the global jet setters. The great thing is that Lake Como offers all sorts of experiences. Visitors can stay in luxury hotels, or cosy apartments, and even agritourisms. There are things to do and to discover for every taste and every budget.

If you had to pick one favourite experience on Lake Como, what would it be and why?

  A private boat tour! You can admire Lake Como’s nature from the boat, see ancient villas, enjoy fresh air, swim, have an aperitivo at sunset, go to remote locations, or moor for a romantic dinner. The boat is an absolute must here!

Thank you Elena!

For more info on news and events on Lake Como, do not hesitate to check out COMO LAKE Today!

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