There aren’t many places like Lake Como. With its epic scenery and panoramic views in all directions, it is an effortlessly romantic travel destination. I loved walking around the small, quaint villages with Bellagio being one of the best – no surprise that it’s referred to as the ‘pearl’ of the lake! How to get there
To get to Lake Como, you need to fly to Milan (Malpensa is closer than Linate airport). You can get a taxi (the easy and more expensive option! We did this as there was a general strike on the day) or you can use public transport, including taking a train (the Malpensa Express). You would need to change in Saronno and take another train to Como town. From here, you can either take a bus (more like a coach and very comfortable) or a ferry to whichever town you’re heading to. Plan in advance and download the ferry timetables, particularly if you’re staying in one of the smaller hamlets – ferries and buses aren’t as frequent to smaller towns so you want to be sure you get the one that fits in with your schedule.
Where to stay
Planning my trip to Lake Como was tricky. There are so many ways to visit the lake, including doing a day trip from Milan! This felt a bit too rushed to me so I decided on staying for a couple of nights to actually experience the magic first hand and to get a feel for the slow pace of Italian life on the lake.
The next big question was where to stay. My friend and I pondered staying in Como town which has good links with Milan via the train. This plan changed immediately though when we found an excellent deal in Bellagio! I did not regret this decision. Although Como town was nice, it was just like any other big town and lacked the character of some of the other places on Lake Como. Bellagio on the other hand was perfect with its beautiful tree-lined waterfront, small boutiques, cobbled streets and colourful buildings. It is also in an excellent position to explore the rest of the lake as it isn’t too far from the big attractions, mainly stunning villas that are now open to the public. We stayed at a lovely family run hotel (Hotel Centrale) which was a few minutes away from the lake and ferry port.
If you can drive, you could also stay in some of the small hamlets along the lake. You are more likely to find a place with a lake view that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! One of the places that was on my list was the Hotel Villa Aurora in Lezzano – a gem of a hotel! But the ‘if you can drive’ bit is important here as you don’t want to rely on public transport later in the evenings when it can be pretty lacking.What to do in Bellagio
Bellagio is not a place that is full of ‘things to see’. It’s very much a place to relax and take in the scenery. If you’re looking for a fast-paced holiday, this probably isn’t the place for you!
In terms of the sights, just walking around the town, in and out of the narrow streets, was a great way to get a feel for the place. Bellagio is very small so it won’t take you long! Be sure to get a gelato or a fresh juice and sit by the lake or walk down the lakeside promenade, lined with trees and pretty flowers. Walk up via Garibaldi to the town’s main square Piazza San Giocomo where you will find the main church, Basilica di San Giacomo.
While in Bellagio, you should definitely visit Villa Melzi which has stunning gardens and views of the lake (ticket is €6.50). We didn’t have time to visit Villa Serbelloni but it is one of the main sights in Bellagio. Although the villa building isn’t open to the public, the gardens and grounds can be visited on organised tours, which take place twice a day (currently 11am and 3.30pm). Tickets are sold before the tour starts at the Promo Bellagio office (opposite the church in the main square).
You could also walk towards the tip of the Bellagio promontory, where there is a viewpoint, park and little harbour at Punta Spartivento, where the lake divides. Pescallo is also about a ten minute walk away and is a small fishing hamlet. We didn’t have time to fit this in but it sounded lovely.
In terms of food, check out Pizzeria Antico Pozzo and Carillon for Pizza, San Giocomo and Bilacus for seafood and fish and Far Out for more modern cuisine.
After a day or two in Bellagio, I would highly recommend venturing out to explore the lake – stay tuned for my next post on what to do and how to get around!
[Outfit details: Primark dress, Zara sandals, Gucci Soho Disco bag, New Look necklace and Aldo sunglasses]