An idyllic long weekend at the end of October with three friends in Bellagio, a beautiful Italian village at the heart of Lake Como.
- Where: Bellagio on Lake Como, Italy
- When: October
- For: Long weekend (3 nights)
- With: Friends (x3)
- Accommodations: 1
- Activities: 7
- Restaurant recommendations: 3
- Cost (base): ~£300 pp (flights & accommodation)
- Spending: £100+/day pp (transport/meals)
We flew from London to Linate (LIN), one of the airports in Milan.
We opted to hire a car from the airport to get to Bellagio but equally trains to Como are fast and frequent. From there, there is a local bus service up the peninsular to Belaggio.
We arrived in the picturesque village of Bellagio, at the very centre of the Y-shaped lake (at the dead of night) and walked a short distance to Salita Antonio Mella to find the two-bedroom apartment.
The apartment sleeps 4 costing from €160/night and has a large open plan living area with corner sofa. Ideally located in the centre of the village, close to the ferry terminal and everything within walking distance; important given that the village centre is closed to car traffic for non-residents. There are also little food shops nearby if you did want to eat at home.
Catch a ferry across the lake: Zig-zag across the lake at your leisure by ferry (timetable), exploring tiny medieval villages such as Tremezzo (pop into Villa Carlotta) and Varenna as you go.
Rent a kayak from Bellagio Water Sports: They offer kayak and paddle boarding tours on the water (with gorgeously sunny weather even in late October). In 2 hours we paddled along the dramatic cliffs and caves of Villa Serbelloni, around Punto Spartivento and on towards Bellagio waterfront.
Walk around Bellagio and the mini-villages (Pescallo, Oliverio, San Giovanni, Loppia and Villa Melzi): there are a number of walking itineraries and routes that you can follow around the town of Bellagio and the surrounding suburbs – Pescallo is the most beautiful in my opinion!
Walk to La Punta Spartivento: A short 5 minute stroll away from Bellagio you’ll find 270° views of Lake Como from the very tip that divides it into two branches, one towards the town of Como and one towards less-pretty Lecco. In the distance are the snow-topped caps of the Alps!
Villa Serbelloni Garden: Villa Serbelloni has a fascinating history and now belongs to the Rockefeller Foundation, who use it as a creative enclave for artists, writers and scientists who receive free residency for 2 – 4 weeks to work on a project of their choice, under the broad banner of "promoting the well-being of humanity around the world".
Note: Only viewable on a guided tour that leaves the PromoBellagio office in Piazza della Chiesa at 11am and 3:30pm daily except Mondays.
Villa del Balbianello: Take a 30-min ferry from Bellagio to Lenno for €4.60 and walk 20 minutes to Villa Balbaniello, the former house of world explorer Guido Monzino. It’s mind-blowingly beautiful! Not to mention the envy I felt towards Signor Monzino for his incredible travels, including a North Pole expedition and an Everest attempt! I’d recommend you take the tour of the house (read: exhibition of his travels) to find out more about his life. A must see!
Run alongside the lake: Here’s one for keen runners, as everything about Lake Como is hilly, hilly, hilly but incredibly scenic. I was marathon training at the time so we set off along the road heading south-east towards Lecco, passing through Pescallo as far as Limonta. And oh my god were the views worth it! We came across a bay in particular that’s home to a tiny chapel carved into the rock, with a lone jetty that was perfect pose-material!
Pizzeria Carillon: The best pizzeria in Bellagio, Carillon is located in a square called Lungo Lario Manzoni with tables outside to soak up the sun at lunchtime.
Slightly outside of the village and owned and run by 32-year-old TV chef Luigi Gandola who appears on La Prova di Cuoco on Rai Uno, and as such his restaurant is something of a Mecca for foodies. Luigi himself picks you up from central Bellagio if you call in advance, giving you time to interview him in the car about his career and cuisine. A glass wall looking from the restaurant into the kitchen allows you to witness his creations come to life and each plate is treated like a work of art.
Another local family-run business, the Bellagio Sporting Club restaurant sits alongside a swimming pool that by night plays host to locals celebrating birthdays, graduation ceremonies or just watching the football on television. I would recommend the steak tartare and calamari to start and a spaghetti dish for main course.
This cavern of vino is set slightly off the aforementioned square on Salita Genazzini and is the perfect spot for aperitivo before your evening meal, with friendly staff, great cheese and meat platters, heaps of atmosphere and a wonderful scent of barrels.
Start early! I can’t speak for spring, summer or winter, but in autumn at the very least, the air is clearest and the views best in the morning.