Bellagio guide

Bellagio trip planner

A vacation guide to Bellagio on Lake Como, Italy

Bellaio on Lake Como

Perhaps the loveliest town on any of the lakes is Bellagio, tucked into the very crux of the Lake Como's Y shape at the end of a peninsula. Yes, before it was a Vegas hotel, it was an Italian fishing village turned resort.

The Bellgio Waterfront, Lago di Como
Downtown Bellagio.
Bellagio has it all: a harborside arcade of cafes, sumptuous gardens surrounding stately villas, narrow medieval alleys so steep they are often set with stairs, and a great mix of hotels and boutiques in all price ranges.

Many people base themselves in Bellagio and use the frequent ferry service to pop back and forth to equally quaint villages the lake's other shores.

Villa Serbelloni

Bellagio, Lago di ComoBellagio's promontory has been prime real estate for millennia. Pliny the Younger had a villa named "Tragedy" here (it matched a "Comedy" one on the far shore), replaced by a castle in the Middle Ages, then a Stagna family villa in the 15th century.

The last Stagna left it to his best friend Serbelloni in 1788, who rebuilt what’s now known as the Villa Serbelloni as a summer residence to the main house down in the village by the lakeside (which is now the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, the best—but priciest—hotel in town).

In 1959, the property passed to the Rockefeller Foundation, so unless you're on a Rockefeller grant, you cannot get into the villa building itself or the 18 little study cottages where those lucky, lucky grant recipients live during their tenure.

The gardens of Villa Serbelloni, Ballagio, Lago di Como
The gardens of Villa Serbelloni, Ballagio, Lago di Como. 9Photo courtesy of PromoBellagio)
However, twice a day you can join a guided tour of the private gardens that cover the entire tip of the Bellagio promontory.

The tours stick mainly to the paths rather than wandering through the gardens themselves, overlooking Italianate, English-style, and Mediterranean sections.

Stendhal called the vista from the top, the only spot from which you can see down all three arms of Lake Como simultaneously, "sublime and enchanting."

There are only two, 90-minute tours daily—at 11am and at 3:30pm—and you must book a tour ahead of time at tel. +39-031-951-1555 or +39-031-950-204. Note that tours only depart if at least 6 people sign up. Tours meet at the Bellagio tourist office at Piazza della Chiesa 14.

Villa Melzi

Villa Melzi, Bellagio, Lago di ComoOn the other side of town are the meticulous gardens surrounding the Villa Melzi. When Francesco Melzi was named vice president of Napoléon's Cisalpine Republic in 1808, he had this Neoclassical villa built on Bellagio's southern edge.

Again, the privately-own villa itself is off-limits, but you can wander the gardens to the water's edge, visit a small museum of archaeological tidbits (Etruscan, Egyptian, and Roman), and see the mock Moorish temple that inspired a pair of Liszt piano concertos, which was written during the composer's stay here.

The Villa Melzi is at the southern end of town on Lungolario Manzoni (tel. +39-339-457-3838; www.giardinidivillamelzi.it). It's open late March through October, daily 9:30am to 6:30pm.

Planning your trip to Bellagio

Tips & links

Details

Bellagio tourist office:
Piazza della Chiesa 14
tel. +39-951-555
www.bellagiolakecomo.com

Recommended hotels in Bellagio

Recommended hotels in Bellagio

 • Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni [€€€€]
 • Hotel du Lac [€€]
 • Hotel Il Perlo Panorama [€€]
 • Hotel Suisse [€€]

» More hotels (Venere, Booking)Bellagio visitor information: The Bellagio tourist information office is at Piazza della Chiesa 14 (tel. +39-951-555; www.bellagiolakecomo.com).

Tours
How to get to Bellagio:

Fastest: Take a train from Milan's Stazione Centrale station to Varenna (2 per hour from Milan; 1 hr.), then hop the ferry to Bellagio (1–2 per hour; 10 min.; www.navigazionelaghi.it).

Alternative: Take the Ferrovia del Nord train from Milan's Cadorna station (not Milano Centrale) to Como town (1–2 per hour from Milan; 1 hr.), then grab the bus to Bellagio (hourly; 70 min.; www.sptlinea.it) or the ferry boat to Bellagio (7–10 per day; 40 min.).

From Lecco: Lecco anchors the southeast corner of Lake Como. There are at least eight daily buses from Lecco to Bellagio (40–45 min.; www.lineelecco.it).

How to get to Bellagio from Milan Malpensa airport

There are three ways, depending on how much time, money, and hassle you want to spend:

  • Fastest/priciest/direct: Use the private service Fly to Lake (www.flytolake.com), which runs four times daily Feb–Oct and costs €70 for one person, €100 for two, or €35 per person for up to eight. (The trip takes 2 to 2-5 hr., depending on traffic.)
  • Almost as fast/far cheaper/few transfers: Follow the steps to get to Como, then take the hourly bus (www.sptlinea.it) to Bellagio. (The bus takes 70 minutes; total trip time at least 2.5 hr.—more if you don't hit the connections just right.)
  • Slowest/cheapest/most connections: Take an airport bus (every 20–30 min; trip time: 50 min.) to the main Milan train station, Stazione Centrale (note: yes, there is a train service from the airport to Milan, but it arrives at Milan's Cadorna Station, not Milan's Stazione Centrale). Switch to another train bound for Varenna (2 per hour; travel time about 1 hr). From Varenna, frequent ferries (www.navigazionelaghi.it) make the 10-min crossing to Bellagio. (Total trip time: with good connections, just 2.5 hr—if you just miss each connection, potentially 4.5 hr.)

How to get to Milan Malpensa airport from Bellagio

Either get to Como first by hourly bus (70 min; www.sptlinea.it) or the faster and more scenic—but less frequent (7–10 per day)—ferry (40 min; www.navigazionelaghi.it) then follow the steps above (total trip time: at least 2.5 hr.—more if you don't hit the connections just right) or use the private service Fly to Lake (www.flytolake.com), as detailed above.

How to get around Lake Como

If you don't take a tour or have a rental car, the easiest way is by bus (www.sptlinea.it) or by boat (www.navigazionelaghi.it). Buses are a little cheaper and more frequent, but Lake Como ferries are faster and way, way more scenic—especially since many of those amazing villas with their fabulous gardens are protected behind high walls on the landlubbing side—but from the water, you get a full-on view. Bring binoculars (and hey: you might even see George Clooney!).

Useful links & resources

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Details

Bellagio tourist office:
Piazza della Chiesa 14
tel. +39-951-555
www.bellagiolakecomo.com

Recommended hotels in Bellagio
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni [€€€€]
Hotel du Lac [€€]
Hotel Il Perlo Panorama [€€]
Hotel Suisse [€€]
» More hotels (Venere, Booking)


Tours
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Useful links


Train tix

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