As the sun sets over the mountains, young women in summer dresses promenade along the lakefront, Gulf Arab tourists lick ice creams and families tuck into plates of seafood spaghetti in outdoor restaurants.
But just a few hundred yards from the idyllic scenes on the banks of Lake Como in the north of Italy, refugees and migrants who have not eaten for a day or more bed down on blankets and scraps of cardboard in a small park.
Wordsworth celebrated Lake Como’s “chestnut woods and garden plots of Indian corn tended by dark-eyed maids”, and the area is a playground for celebrities and well-heeled visitors from around the world.
The most famous name to own a villa on the lake is actor George Clooney, who with his British wife Amal, a human rights lawyer, recently hosted a lavish fundraising dinner at another stunning lakeside property, the 19th century Villa Camilla.
The dinner was in aid of Darfur, the region of Sudan that has been devastated by a decade of civil war, a cause dear to Mr Clooney’s heart. Ironically, just a few miles away from the villa, victims of that conflict were among those sleeping rough.
Lake Como has become the latest, most unlikely, flashpoint in Europe’s migration crisis.
With France and Austria imposing stricter controls on their borders with Italy, large numbers of refugees and migrants have tried to forge a new route to the promised land of northern Europe – from Como into Switzerland.
But the Swiss, too, have now tightened security checks at the frontier town of Chiasso, patrolling the station and sending refugees promptly back to Italy.
The Swiss stopped 3,615 migrants at the border in June, but the number rose dramatically to more than 8,000 in July. The figures are expected to be even greater this month.
Around 400 people are now camping rough outside Como train station and in a nearby park. They are a tiny fraction of the nearly 100,000 migrants and refugees who have been rescued in the Mediterranean this year and brought to Italy to await an uncertain fate.
The exodus is putting towns and cities up and down the country under immense strain as they try to accommodate the constant stream of new arrivals.
Ahmad Mohammad Bashir, 27, fled the war in Darfur, travelling by truck across the Sahara in his bid to reach the Mediterranean coast of Libya.
He and around 25 other refugees were held up at gunpoint deep in the desert by a heavily-armed criminal gang of Libyans, Sudanese and Chadians.
They were imprisoned on a remote date farm and frequently beaten. Only those who could persuade their relatives at home to wire money to the gang were released.
He then had to raise more money for a place in a dinghy that took him from a Libyan beach into the middle of the Mediterranean, where he was rescued by the Italian navy.
He fled a reception centre in southern Italy and made his way to Como, where he tried to cross to Switzerland by train.
“I was captured at the border and they sent me back here. Now I have no idea what to do,” he said.
Many of the refugees are Eritrean and Ethiopian, fleeing two of Africa’s most dictatorial regimes.
Early in the morning, as bright sunshine filters through the park’s pine trees, they sprawl on the ground, chatting to each other, listening to music on mobile phones, or playing football on a dusty patch of ground.
Each person has his or her own story of exodus and exile.
All of them hope to be able to make it across the Swiss border somehow, despite tighter controls, and from there to travel northward, with the majority wanting to reach Germany.
Some have been living rough for two weeks, while others, like Abdi Mohammed, have just arrived.
He sleeps on the ground in the clothes he is wearing – a blue sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. “If the border is closed, what shall we do? What is the solution? Please help us,” the 22-year-old Ethiopian said.
He travelled from Ethiopia to Sudan and from there to Egypt, where he paid smugglers in Alexandria $3,000 to take him across the Mediterranean in a boat packed with 300 people.
“I want to live in a free and democratic country – that is my dream. I hope to continue my studies. I want to go to Germany.”
Abubakar Ahmed, 43, from Eritrea, has tried twice to cross the border by train. He has considered hiking across the mountains – there are plenty of trails that lead across the border – but fears being caught.
“We have no maps, we don’t know where to go, maybe the police have dogs. Because of our colour, we are easy to recognise,” he said, laughing shyly.
A former taxi driver, he hopes to claim asylum in northern Europe. “Switzerland, Germany – I don’t mind where.”
In Como train station, tourists in holiday mood wait for trains that will whisk them into Switzerland. Outside, listless refugees lie on blankets, their possessions crammed into black plastic bags and neatly stacked against the outside of the station.
Damp clothes, freshly washed in a station toilet, hang on the railings of a wheelchair access ramp.
In Como, opinion about the refugees is mixed. Some locals have rallied around to help and charities have provided food and medical supplies, but others said the Alpine town was simply not equipped to deal with a refugee emergency.
“I think we have to help them, up to a certain point. There are women and children and they are suffering a great deal,” said Teresa Montanino, 71. “The government needs to step in. This is no life for a human being.”
Pina Angelini, 70, said some locals were afraid of the refugees. “We don’t know who they are.”
Italy has warned that fighters from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant could travel to Europe on boats from Libya.
The warning was echoed on Wednesday by the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord.
Fayez al-Sarraj warned in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper that Isil: “will use any means possible to send its militants to Italy and Europe”.
Mrs Angelini said: “Italy cannot deal with all these people on its own. We need to stop the flows of people coming from Africa, to tackle the problem at its roots. Our own young people can’t find jobs and I think we need to look after them first.”
Another major flashpoint in Italy’s migration crisis is the town of Ventimiglia, just across from the French Riviera, where thousands of migrants and refugees have been thwarted in their bid to enter France.
Since last month’s terrorist attack in nearby Nice, the border has been closed to them, with Italian soldiers and French gendarmes patrolling crossing points.
Around 700 migrants have been rounded up and accommodated in an old railway yard on the outskirts of the town, where they live in cream-coloured Portakabins run by the Red Cross.
There are outdoor showers and three meals a day, but very few want to claim asylum in Italy and the vast majority are determined to cross the frontier by any means possible.
“I know the border is closed, but we will escape,” said Salah Malik, 27, a history graduate from Sudan. “It won’t be difficult for me, I will walk. We are Africans, we are used to walking.”
While the men are housed in the dilapidated railway yards, around 100 women and children have found slightly more comfortable conditions at the church of Sant’Antonio, a few miles away.
Since the end of May it has become a makeshift camp after its doors were opened by the local priest, Rito Alvarez, who is from Colombia.
On a basketball court behind the church, small children ride scooters and bicycles, while their mothers sit in the shade.
“Every day, the numbers increase,” said Father Rito. “Fifty per cent are from Sudan but we also have Eritreans, Afghans, Algerians and others. Our volunteers do their best but we are just not prepared for this situation.”
Some of the refugees have tried to cross the border four or five times, but have been caught and returned to Italy.
But local people are losing patience with the huge numbers of migrants in their midst.
“They’re all over the place and they go around in groups. They sleep in the parks in town, sometimes they’re drunk,” said Salvatore Burgio, 47, as he walked near the migrant centre with his daughter, Asia, 14.
“I fear for the safety of my daughter. I’m worried she could be molested. This used to be such a quiet area.”