At the tip of the Punto Spartivento, the ‘point which divides the wind’ sits Bellagio which is known as ‘the pearl of the lake’. You can reach Bellagio by car but with the narrow winding roads it can be a bit stressful. A more relaxing method of reaching Bellagio is by boat. From here you have some amazing views of the mountains to the east, west and also the snow-capped mountains to the north along the Swiss Border. Bellagio is picturesque with cobbled alleys, porticos and stepped streets that lead up from the lakeside. There are many beautiful buildings along the lakeside all pastel shades with red roofs. In the Middle Ages, Bellagio was a small town fortified by walls and a castle. The bell tower of the Basilica of San Giacomo is all that survives of the fortifications.
The start of tourism in Bellagio goes back to the 19th century. Count Francesco Melzi decided to build his summer home here, a luxurious villa on the west coast near Loppia. The Milanese aristocracy soon became curious of this village and it wasn’t long before they flocked to this quaint town on the lake. It was not long before the the news of this wonderful place spread and soon attracted many famous people; the Austrian Emperor and Francis I who stayed in Villa Serbelloni, Villa Trotti and Villa Melzi. Thereafter followed Emperor Ferdinand I, Archduke Ranieri and Minister Metternich (who arrived from Varenna on the lake’s very first steamer the “Lario”) and thereafter it was known as the place to be. Carriage roads were then built to connect Bellagio to the magnificent villas and palaces and into the town centre. Eventually a main road was built connecting Bellagio to the town of Erba.
Due to the growing popularity of Bellagio, many villas and gardens were constructed during this period. Two of the main villas on Bellagio are Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni (now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation). For the aristocrats Bellagio was the place to be seen and over the following years, a plethora of famous people visited; artists, politicians, intellectuals, scientists and even royalty. The musician Franz Liszt was one of the most famous guests of the century.
Tourists flock to Bellagio in the summer months, but even though it can get overcrowded, it just adds to the atmosphere of the place and should still be in your ‘to do’ list.
Along the lakeside in Bellagio you will find many wonderful hotels and restaurants to choose from where you can relax and take in the spectacular views.
There are many things to see and do in Bellagio; visiting churches, museums, villas & gardens. You can even take a historical tour around the town or a nice walk along the suburbs. The newly refurbished Lido di Bellagio is a great place to catch some sun and enjoy the weather, don’t forget your sun cream.