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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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 website. At 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,