A number of years ago I had the opportunity to visit Lago Maggiore in Italy's northern lake district, and I immediately fell in love with the area. What's not to love - a picturesque lake surrounded by majestic mountains, gorgeous scenery and quaint villages. Of course the unbelievable views from the villa we were guests at didn't hurt either.
So when a friend asked about Bellagio on Lake Como (Lago di Como), I was immediately intrigued. I've known about Lake Como for a while (yes - of George Clooney fame), also located in the lake district, but I wasn't that familiar with Bellagio.
Approximately 1.5 hours north of Milan, Bellagio is a small, picturesque resort town on the point of the narrow peninsula where the three branches of the lake meet. It's history dates as far back as the 7th century, and the village still boasts century old buildings, picturesque streets and cobblestone stairways.
A luxurious resort town, Bellagio offers plenty to see and do and it's location is an ideal base to explore the three arms of Lake Como. Perfect for a few slow-paced days, one can enjoy the many cafes, restaurants and walking paths that line the shores. For those who want to explore a bit further, car and passenger ferries take you to all three arms.
The villas of Lake Como are certainly some of the most beautiful in Italy, with some having been turned into luxury hotels or museums with magnificent art and gardens to explore. A short ferry ride across to the western shore will take you to Villa Carlotta (below), with its exceptional botanical gardens and extraordinary art, including a replica of the masterpiece 'The Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet".
The town of Como, at the bottom of the western arm of Lake Como, is also a worthy day trip. Take the ferry down, enjoy the beautiful scenery, marvel at all the luxurious villas that dot the shoreline, explore the sites of Como and if you are up to it, take the bus back to Bellagio - a journey similar to that on the Amalfi Coast. A long day, but very interesting.
The best time to visit the area is late April through the summer months (peak season is mid-June through mid-September). If you don't mind cooler weather and would like to avoid the crowds, consider early April or late September.
Bellagio is truly a real "pearl" - a wonderful getaway and great spot to relax and unplug.
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder