Bellagio is a real place, a real town, on a real lake in Italy. Known as “The Pearl of the Lake”, Bellagio is definitely one of Lago di Como’s most beautiful villages with several grand villas, a vibrant and often crowded waterfront that goes from arcaded shops and restaurants in yellow and terra cotta hues to a tree lined promonade with sculpture and benches. Bellagio’s location on Lake Como is near the middle of the long, narrow lake, and is located on a peninsula which is formed where the two southern branches of the lake join together to form one northern branch; another way it is described is that of an inverted Y shape, or the shape of a person, and Bellagio is located at the crotch (the Italians use even more gender specific terms to describe this).
Besides the waterfront, the main part of the town is a series of narrow passages that wind up and down the side of the mountain. As in all the towns along this lake, most of the streets and pedestrian passages are steeply sloped. Steps and steps and steps! It’s certainly a great way to keep in shape (whether you want to or not). The shops are mostly expensive, but I found many of the restaurants and cafes to be very reasonably priced. It is not yet the high tourist season, I did not see any of the huge crowds that I hear they have here during the summer months. Hotels range from the ultra expensive to the not so expensive. I found a nice hotel for about $100 a night for a single room in the center of town, just a couple blocks from the waterfront on the Venere.com website. I has a nice breakfast room that looks out onto its own private courtyard.
There is really not much to do in Bellagio except to hang out at one of the outdoor cafes, or do a lot of walking, or take a boat to other nearby towns on the lake of which there are numerous good choices. There are three walks (with maps and directions) you can take, info at the tourist office at the boat dock. I took the one that passes through Pescallo, a picturesque old fishing village, about a 10 to 15 minute walk from Bellagio. I also did some fantastic day trips by boat to some of the other major towns nearby, and will cover those in another writing.
Villa Serbelloni is the most famous villa. It is located high up on the mountainside overlooking Bellagio. You cannot visit the villa, it is owned and operated by the Rockefeller Center as (I’ve been told) a research center for artists, academics, etc., but you can take a one and a half hour tour of the gardens for great views to the lake and lots of plants and nature. It was well worth the effort.
Bellagio is also well known as a romantic city. Weddings and honeymoons are very popular here.