Беладжо / Bellagio

Lake Como has its “pearl” and that is Bellagio! The picturesque town is the most popular location along its coast and hardly needs an introduction… Even if it has become an overly touristy place in recent years, it is an absolute must-stop when visiting the area!

Where is located and how to get there

Its location is as beautiful as possible – Bellagio sits on the tip of a peninsula dividing the deep waters of Lake Como into two arms. It can be reached by great scenic roads from Como (30 km) and Lecco (20 km), but be aware that they are extremely busy and very narrow! The best option for parking is Parcheggio Pescallo – 10-15 minutes walking distance from the central part. It’s best to arrive in the morning when there are still available spots.

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The nearest airport is in Bergamo (60 km), from where you can take a train to the lake. There is no train station in Bellagio itself, so the option is to get off in Varena or Como and travel by boat from there. In the central part of the lake there is regular public transport by means of ferries – you can find a timetable HERE or on place at the terminals. A ticket is bought in advance from the ticket office, and if you plan more than three trips, it would be more profitable to buy a day pass.

Where to stay

Around Bellagio are some of the most luxurious places to stay along the lakeshore. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option for overnight stays, I recommend heading to the Como or Lecco area. We chose Malgrate because of the beautiful promenade with impressive views of the high mountains in the surrounding area. The journey between the two is only about 30 minutes. If you still want to feel the aristocratic aura of the luxury hotels and its night atmosphere, then take advantage of the wonderful options for staying in the Bellagio itself.

See more places to stay in Bellagio

The city park

The road from the parking lot to the heart of the town passes by beautiful family villas, and between them sneaks a view of the lake. After less than 10 minutes of walking along via Valassina, you will find yourself around the shady city park (Parco Martiri della Libertà). Everything is so green and colorful and there is no indication of the hundreds of tourists visiting Bellagio every day! You can relax on the benches surrounded by greenery, and if you come with children, the only children’s playground in the town is located here.

The colourful alley – Lungolago Europa

A few steps away from it is my favorite place – the Lungolago Europa promenade, or the stretch between the ever-busy traghetti (car ferry) terminal and the entrance to Villa Melzi. This charming avenue, filled with flower beds and well-aligned trees, is almost always crowded with people. Benches overlooking the waters of the lake can inspire any poet, writer or artist. It’s hardly a coincidence that Franz Liszt wrote some of his immortal works while at the Bellagio. And despite the huge flow of people, we always managed to find a free bench to sit on and just contemplate the outlines of the opposite shore and the boats sailing in the area!

More about Bellagio

The first inhabitants of the area were from the ancient Celtic tribe Insubres, who inhabited the borders of today’s Lombardy region. Somewhere around 600 BC, the Gauls appeared, who settled in the territories around the lake and named it after their commander Belloveso. Subsequently, the Romans designated it as a garrison for the wintering of the armies, and perhaps even then its main purpose as a holiday destination was born! At the beginning of the 19th century, its transformation began after Francesco Melzi d’Eril decided to build his summer villa here. The first hotels begin to appear, celebrities arrive one after another, luxury shops open their doors, and Bellagio becomes a glamorous and romantic destination!

Towards Punta Spartivento – where the lake splits

Be sure to head to the other end of town to visit Punta Spartivento, the tip of the peninsula that separates the arms of the lake. The point where even the wind splits! The walk there takes around 10 minutes along via Eugenio Vitali, and the small green park has become a wonderful place to relax or have a picnic. People sat in the shade under the trees and enjoyed the lake idyll… Some were walking along the long quay towards the water, others were jumping into the water to cool off, and I was burning with the desire to take one of the moored boats of local residents and to go to the two opposite banks, where the outlines of Menaggio and Varena could be seen…

From the coast to the streets

Bellagio is a small town that can easily be explored on foot, despite the multi-level streets. You can start from the panoramic coastal road where two of the most emblematic hotels are located – Hotel du Lac and Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. There is also the main ferry terminal, constantly busy and almost always full of people waiting. Several internal stepped alleyways, called Salite, lead tourists to the upper part of the center known as Il Borgo. They are steep, narrow, full of historic shops and extremely charming! On them you can find fresh products, quality shoes, bags, jewelry, beautiful silk, handmade souvenirs and what not…

Time for lunch

And you can also use them for a delicious lunch, like we did! We had to wait a bit for a free table at Bistrot Antichi Sapori, but it was worth it. One of the restaurants with decent prices, delicious food, pleasant atmosphere and good service. We tried ravioli and pizza, as well as tiramisu, served in an interesting way – in a pot. An Aperol spritz on hot summer days is almost a must!

The central square and the church

The main street in Bellagio is via Giuseppe Garibaldi and winds around its upper part, and around it are positioned art galleries, cafes, and other interesting shops, even one for Christmas toys – L’Аngolo delle idee. Right next to it is the stone bell tower of the 11th-12th century Romanesque Basilica of San Giacomo (Chiesa prepositurale di San Giacomo), and the quiet Piazza della Chiesa completes the landscape. In its corner, you can see the medieval tower, which remains as the only memory of the former defense system.

The entrance to Villa Serbelloni

Around it are the stairs leading to one of Bellagio’s most famous villas and its gardens – Villa Serbelloni. The identity of the names with the waterfront hotel may confuse you, but they have nothing in common! The park of the villa occupies almost the entire space of the cape where the Bellagio is located – about 21 hectares! Today, the complex is owned by the Rockefeller Foundation and only the park can be visited, but with a tour guide. More information about the tours, starting times and tickets can be found HERE.

The most famous view in Bellagio

Thanks to the terraced urban layout, the top of the Bellagio offers breathtaking views of the coast! If you need to find the most emblematic place that has managed to seal its charm and made millions of tourists visit it, then head to the stairs of Salita Serbelloni (HERE). A few colorful facades, laden with greenery, and so the typical Italian laundry, and in the distance you can see the blue waters of Lake Como and the hills opposite!

The gardens of Villa Melzi

One of the most famous villas around the shore of the lake is the mentioned at the beginning former summer residence of Francesco Melzi d’Erill, Duke of Lodi and Vice-President of the Italian Republic under Napoleon. Villa Melzi itself is privately owned and cannot be entered, but its gardens are a real oasis of peace! I already told you that the entrance is right at the end of Lungolago Europa, and the fee is 10 euro (current prices and opening hours can be seen on the website – HERE).

The gardens are huge, but luckily, with the ticket, you also get a map, with which you can easily find your way around the most interesting places. The alleys are impressive, especially the ones around the coast! The small chapel at the start of the walk is one of the popular photo spots and you may have to wait your turn… A small pond, many azaleas, rare exotic plants, a Japanese garden, a cave, a larger chapel at the other end of the park and a lot more can be found here! Walk around the neoclassical villa and climb the stairs to feel its grandeur… It’s fabulous!