Welcome to Bellagio, a beautiful town half way down the two legs of Lake Como, surrounded by green mountains, blue water and calm skies, it’s the place that Stendhal called an outstanding landscape in Italy.
The charming town was originally a Roman settlement, then it became fortified with walls in Longobard time, and in the period of medieval communes time was Como’s enemy.
For many centuries it was feud of several noble families: in 1492 it belong to the Stanga, after it passed to the Sfrondati and in 1647 to the Airoldi. These and other families built lovely villas and beautiful buildings surrounded by beautiful parks, renewed in the 18th century.
In the 18th century Bellagio became one of the most famous international holiday resorts, many noble families belonging to the rich middle class lived here and today many celebrities have fallen in love with this lovely place.
Bellagio – What to see
Walk up the main road, Via Garibaldi, and you will arrive in a little square at the foot of the hill of Serbelloni’s Gardens, on the left you find the Basilica di San Giacomo, built between 1125 and 1150. The bell tower, which was an ancient system of defence, and the three double ferrule apses, the four capitals and the Evangelistic Symbols situated in the hall, belong all to the original basilica. Inside you will find two 14th century works from the Umbrian and Lombard schools, some Romanesque sculptures and paintings dated back to the 16th and 17th century, like Perugino’s “deposition of Christ” or “Madonna delle grazie”.
The San Giovanni Battista’s church is the oldest in Bellagio, and was built above the remains of another church built many centuries before, while the building as you see it today is a result of the restyling in 1785. The most interesting work is an altar-piece figuring “the risen Christ” from Gaudenzio Ferrari.
The whole promontory at east above the village is occupied by Villa Serbelloni and its beautiful park. It was built in the 15th century and today it belongs to the Rockfeller foundation of New York and is used as a study centre. From Via Garibaldi you can enter the gardens, were you will be surrounded by elegant paths and avenues from where you can admire the enormous collection of rare and exotic plants, secular trees, flowers and rosebeds.
Villa Melzi represents another beautiful neoclassical villa. The current owner is a descendant of the Melzi family and for this reason, it is not possible to enter the villa, but you can visit the museum and its wonderful garden, where we can find an Etruscan cinerary urn of the 3rd century B.C, two Egyptian scultures dated back to the 13th and 14th century and a statue of Dante and Beatrice “Dante condotto per mano da Beatrice” by Comolli.
Bellagio offers not only a nice lakefront from where you can admire splendid view of the whole lake, but also a wide selection of excursions. For example you can reach Monte San Primo (approx.14km), where you can go for some nice walks, ski and enjoy an enchanting panoramic view.
Bellagio – Cuisine and Restaurants
Here listed are some good restaurants in Bellagio and nearby:
Trattoria San Giacomo
Salita Serbelloni, 45
One of the most typical restaurants in Bellagio, situated in the town centre on the hill (Salita Serbelloni). Among the special dishes you can eat: local freshwater fish ’in carpione’, (carpione di pesce lacustre), spaghetti “al missoltin”, and many other dishes.
Via Carcano, 12
Old restaurant where you can eat freshwater fish, only a few minutes from the town centre, above Villa Melzi gardens.
Salita Serbelloni, 30/32
This restaurant has a nice garden where you can eat outside in the summer located in the town centre on the hill (Salita Serbelloni).
Loc. Piano di Rancio Bellagio
This charming restaurant offers delicious dishes based around the meat of local wildlife, situated around 5km from the town centre, at Piano di Rancio, towards the park of Monte San Primo.
Piazza del Porto, 4
Pescallo di Bellagio
This restaurant with a lovely terrace that faces the lake is situated in the village of Pescallo. The perch fillet is a must.
Punta Spartivento, 19
Restaurant with a beautiful terrace only a short walk from the town centre, located on the panoramic promontory of Bellagio.
Via Roma, 1
Luxurious restaurant on the ground floor of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni with wonderful lake view.
Bellagio – How to get there
From the Milanese air Terminals of Linate, Malpensa and Orio al Serio, you should make your way to the centre of Milan and then take the train to Como.
With the Malpensa Express it is preferable to get off in Saronno and then get the train of the Ferrovie Nord for Como.
There is not a train station in Bellagio, so the quickest way to arrive at Bellagio is to take the ferry from Varenna (it takes 10 minutes). To arrive at Varenna from the centre of Milan, you can take the train from Milan Centrale in direction Sondrio or Tirano.
As an alternative you can make your way to Como using the Ferrovie Nord (from Cadorna or Saronno) and then take the bus or the hydrofoil.
Bellagio is 75 km from Milan, 29 km from Como and 20 km from Lecco.
There are two ways from Milan to get get to Bellagio:or you take the SS36 in direction Sondrio and before you get to Lecco take the exit and follow for Bellagio; or take the motorway A9 Milan-Lugano, called “dei Laghi” and then take the exit for Como.
From Como take the road for Nesso, Lezzeno, Bellagio, or reach the village of Tremezzo-Cadenabbia, on the opposite shore of the lake and then take the boat.