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Go There: Bellagio

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At the end of your slow-boat ride on Lake Como is your destination: Bellagio.

Beautiful, lush, lakeside Bellagio

Last week, I explained how one should approach Bellagio. This week, I present the town itself...bella Bellagio...the most romantic town in Europe. 

One of the things that makes Bellagio so unique are its ‘streets’. These are no ordinary streets, as no autos can travel them

The setting for Bellagio is unique, as it sits at the end of a spit of land which juts out into Lake Como, or Lago di Como. This location actually adds a good bit to its charm, as there is no through traffic to clutter up your visit...one has to either intentionally be driving to Bellagio, or one must be lost. Check out the map in last week's article to see what I mean about its location.

Getting There

To learn more about how to get to Bellagio, see my article from last week, appropriately titled, "Getting There: Bellagio". 

Here you can see a passenger 'slow boat' that I so espouse as it arrives at Bellagio.

One of the 'slow boats' that ply the waters of Lago di Como

Ah, the destination has been reached...we are now in Bellagio.

The 'Streets' of Bellagio

One of the things that makes Bellagio so unique are its 'streets'. These are no ordinary streets, as no autos can travel them. There are about a half-dozen of these ally-like streets that go from the lower, lakeside, outbound roadway of Bellagio, to the upper, inbound roadway. 

In this photo is the lakeside portion of the auto roadway that leads out of town. The roadway makes a bit of a jog to the left at the Hotel Metropole, our hotel for this stay.

The roadway headed through, and then away, from Bellagio. Our pink hotel in the distance

And here is the upper roadway...yes, that's actually the road coming into Bellagio, and we are driving it in a car that we rented for a day (see more in the article 'Stumbling Upon Something Magnificent').

In between these two portions of auto road are the pedestrian shopping streets, as you can see below. These streets echo the difference in elevation between the lower and upper roadways.

Shopping Bellagio

The Como area was once the silk capital of Europe. Mulberry trees kept the silkworms happily making silk, and the Italians were happily making silk cloth. Though this industry has all but vanished, there are still many items made of silk available in Bellagio.

Here we see some of the silk and its shoppers.

A tradition of days gone by was for young women to wear a bridal headdress made of intricately design hair pins -- I'm sure there is a more appropriate name for them, but that's how I know them. Just below is one of those hair adornments.

Today, these head pieces have been disassembled into its individual parts and they are available for purchase. Here you see Ellen and Debbie as they consider their purchase of serving pieces that have been fashioned from these pieces.

In the market for Italian-made shoes or shirts? You are in luck!

Food!

I always try to include photos of food from any place that we visit...this is important, don't you think? Here are a few selections from a number of restaurants we have visited on our trips to Bellagio.

And there are some beautiful settings for partaking of food. We especially like the lakeside setting of the first photo. And both of the ladies in our group thought that our waiter made the setting more attractive, too.

Hotels

Our hotel on one trip, the Albergo Metropole, sits in a perfect location in town. We had a room with balcony overlooking the lake. 

Centrally located Albergo Metropole

Our lakefront rooms were superb. You can see the ferry dock in the photo with Scott and Debbie, and across the lake to Menaggio in the photo with Ellen and me.

And the view at sunset left nothing to be desired. Here is an evening ferry from Menaggio nearing the Bellagio ferry dock.

Evening view from our room at the Metropole

Here is the link to the Hotel Albergo Metropole.

 

On a previous trip we stayed at the five-star Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. The guest register for this palace of a hotel is chock-a-block full of names of the past that you would recognize -- including yours truly, of course.

Here, you can see the layout of the GHVS, with the main portion of Bellagio being to the right. We swam in the pool -- brrrrr -- and actually found the lake to be a bit warmer!

Have you ever eaten in a more opulent breakfast room?

The breakfast room

Lunch or dinner on the terrace is exquisite.

Here is my wife, Ellen, and me after a scrumptious dinner at GHVS.  Did I mention that we danced to a small orchestra after dinner?

Here is the link for the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

Sights of Bellagio

It is interesting to note that, though Bellagio sits at the base of the alps, it is in a sub-tropical climate. You will find several palm trees, like this one, scattered around.

 

I will leave you with several photos of Bellagio and its environs. Here you will see the view of the lake and beyond from Bellagio, the beautiful flowers, buildings, etc. Enjoy.

And here is an interesting view of a Pringles dispenser! Have you ever seen one of these? But what a great idea for those emergencies when you feel you need something lite and a bit salty. 

 

I will leave you with one final photo that sums it all up for us...

Want to make a trip to Bellagio? Drop me a line and I'll be happy to give you some more tips!

Ciao for now,

Steve

 

Getting There: Bellagio

Index of Blog Articles

Bellagio is worth getting to...but just how should one go about it?

You've no doubt heard of Bellagio. But we are not speaking of the beautiful Bellagio Hotel of Las Vegas, but the real Bellagio...the one from which the hotel was modeled, complete with lake, though no fountain and light show exist at the real Bellagio.

Just one of the many lakeside towns you will see on your slow-boat journey to Bellagio

The northern-Italian town of Bellagio has been dubbed ‘the most romantic town in Europe’, and we must agree. What a marvelous setting!

Lake Como and Bellagio

Bellagio sits on an interesting point in the lake district, about 45 miles north of Milan. What is interesting about Bellagio's location is the spit of land on which it is located on Lago di Como (Lake Como).

As you can see on this map, the lake is said to be shaped like a running person, with Bellagio sitting right in the...how can I say this in a decorous way...well OK, the crotch.  

There is no direct train service to Bellagio, so one must travel to Bellagio either by boat or auto. And, as one can get around through most of Italy using trains, with no need for renting an automobile, let's assume are not traveling by automobile. 

The quickest way to get to Bellagio is by taking the train from Milan to Varenna, and then by a short ferry-boat ride to Bellagio. But be forewarned -- this is not the best way to get to Bellagio, as I will explain below.

 

The Slow Boat

The most pleasant and most excellent path to Bellagio is by a slow boat from Como. The route of the slow boat takes you to between 10 to 16 stops on your journey and the ride will take between 2 and 2 1/2 hours to complete (the number of stops and journey time depends on your departure time). Be warned that there is a fast boat, which is shown on the boat schedule in red as 'Speed Service' -- don't take this boat unless you are going to be late for a dinner reservation at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni (or better yet, change your reservation time). The speed service? It's a hydrofoil boat that takes only 45 minutes to complete its journey.

Since there is a boat that is a good bit faster than the slower boat, why extend your journey on this slow boat? Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will be using just a few words -- and many pictures -- to explain why you should take the slow boat to Bellagio.

Your Journey Begins

Your journey to the town of Como will start in Milan. For us, we had taken the overnight-sleeper train from Rome to Milan, so we continued our journey to Como early in the morning from Milan. We wanted to catch to 10am boat, so we would arrive in Bellagio just in time for lunch.

These photos were taken as we worked our way through the train yard at Milan.

It's about 20 miles from Como to Bellagio, and our journey should take about 2 1/2 hours.

The lake opens up before you as our Lake Como journey begins

When you get on the boat, take the stairs up to the upper deck for the best views. 

This is why you are taking the slow boat -- beautiful town after charming town all along the lake

This boat is similar to the one we are on right now

Lago di Como is surrounded by mountains...and the auto road that ends at Bellagio can be seen cutting across the hill on the right

Another lakeside town you would love to visit, but we won't be stopping here

A lot of mountain, with just a hint of civilization

The clock shows that it is almost 11am; as we left at 10am, we are about an hour into our journey

There is still a lot of lake left on our journey

Many of the villas along the way have gazebo-like embellishments...a quiet place to sit and contemplate the depths of the lake - which happens to be 1,340 feet at its deepest point!

I wish we were on this boat together right this very minute, enjoying the scenery

That one tree looks like they got it at Hobby Lobby...how is it so perfectly shaped?!

This photo and the four below it show the most beautiful house on the lake...idyllic...you've seen it in many movies, like: A Month by the Lake; Star Wars: Attack of the Clones; and Casino Royale. The villa is called Villa del Balbianello. It had fallen into disrepair in the early 1900s and was bought and restored by an American. When the latest owner died in 1988, he left it to the National Trust of Italy. It is open to the public (see their website here).

Looks to be a little after noon...just about 25 minutes more and we will be at Bellagio

Ahhh...bella Bellagio -- we are at the Cadenabia stop and Bellagio is just across the lake and it's next!

As we approach Bellagio, we see one of the auto ferries that travels between Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna

As we near the dock, we can see our hotel dead center...we are on the top floor of the Metropole, second balcony from the left

And here is our journey's end...and we are just in time for lunch

It's time for a journey's end glass of wine with Scott and Debbie...

...and Ellen has one of her favorite snacks, a grissino, or breadstick

I hope that you are convinced that taking the slow boat to Bellagio is the ultimate journey, one at a pace that gives you time to absorb the charming sights of Lake Como. But, of course, you could have opted for the faster conveyance, below.

The 'Speed Service' of the hydrofoil


The Logistics

Here our friend Scott purchases our tickets as soon as we arrived at the boat dock in Como. It is a good idea to get your tickets early, as the boat does fill up quickly.

Below is the boat schedule, as posted at the ticket office. In the orange box, note the dates for this schedule are between the 1st and 28th of October, 2012. The schedules change drastically after the summer tourist season, so be sure you check online for the correct schedule as you plan your trip. 

In the green box is the schedule for the direction of the slow boat from Como to Piona, which is the way we want to go. In the blue box is the yucky hydrofoil Speed Service.

You can see the Navigazione Lago di Como boat schedule on their websiteAt right is the schedule as of today during the summer of 2016 (but be aware that it is only for service through October 2nd). 


So, now you know how to get to Bellagio. Next week, I'll tell you more about the town itself. But trust me, it is a place you will enjoy visiting. 

For a related article on an adventure starting in Bellagio, see my article of 07/28/2015 titled 'Stumbling Upon Something Magnificent'. 

 

Ciao for now,

Steve