I am absolutely loving these small group travel adventures. Just like my tag-line says, “It’s always an adventure,” well, that’s because its true. This past weekend I brought another group to middle Italy for a Cooking in Italy trip. Since it is such a long drive, (9+ hours) I chose to spend one night in Bellagio, Lake Como. What I didn’t realize is we should have stayed much longer. Last year we popped into the city of Lake Como so I am slowly making my way around the lake. There are over ten other towns to choose from so it will be hard to choose where to go next, because I’ll want to return to Bellagio.
Sometimes, when I visit a destination, it surprises me. This was the case with Bellagio, Lake Como. This stunningly, beautiful little town on one of Italy’s most famous lakes was everything I thought it would be and much, much more.
Although we were only there for an overnight, it is just 300km from Stuttgart. So if you need a “short-weekend” trip idea ~ why yes, Lake Como!
Getting there ~ Ferry RIDE!
Getting around the lake to visit these little towns is easily accessible by ferry. My Waze GPS took us to the town of Cadenabbia. We saw the car line for the ferry as we pulled into town and I hopped out to pay our fare – for seven people it was €52 one way. This included my car. I didn’t think that was a bad price considering it would have taken us well over an hour and a half to drive the windy roads around the lake to get there by car. Check – check. Done. Here are some shots from our very short ferry ride across the lake.
Parking in Bellagio ~
This can be a bit tricky when you are driving a 9-passenger van. We were so lucky as there was front row (above ground) parking within walking distance from our hotel. You may want to use the Parkopedia app to help you find one close to your accommodations as well.
Where we stayed
I chose the Hotel Bellagio, our boutique hotel accommodations had air conditioning in each room. However, the controls were set by the front desk. They were also de-activated if you opened your windows. Try to remember not to do this ~ Our room price range was about €155/night which was average for June in Bellagio. Don’t forget the city tax (€2/person/night)
Our rooms had a lake view and our breakfast was quite nice on the canopy porch on the second floor. We were surrounded by vines and birds chirping first thing in the morning. Our room in general was small, but I tend to be o.k. with that since I’m not in it for long.
The hotel is only accessible by walking up a little hill on a rocky sidewalk. (Think medieval rocks) I would not recommend this for physically challenged people. I made the reservations through e-mail directly and was able to negotiate our breakfast in the price. However, I will go back on TripAdvisor and rate them too.
The location was perfect. We could not have asked for a better location. We were within walking distance of the water, restaurants, ferry and shopping.
What to do
After we promptly checked-in, it was FREE TIME for everybody. So, while several travelers wandered off to catch the tourist train around the city, I headed to the tourism office, where I met Tomaso, a college intern working for the summer to help curious tourists discover Bellagio.
He guided me to several walking and driving tours around Bellagio. The tourist office (located right on the main strip) had several brochures available in English and he suggested (for my very short stay) to take the Historical Tour of the Central City. So I did.
This less than 3km walk around and through the city led to the oldest villa in Bellagio, (now a hotel) Grand Hotel Villa Servelloni. This gorgeous, romantic property became a hotel in 1872. It is part of the Rockefeller Foundation of New York. After eyeing and envying the hotel, I strolled up the hill to the “Punta Spartivento” or where the wind divides. You can feel this breeze as your walking, ahhhh.
Word of caution, try not walking, while take pictures and reading all at same time. Just a friendly-safety tip ~ you may lose your footing on ancient Roman streets and not look graceful like I did falling. Whoops ~
As you continue the walking tour you’ll come across St. James’ Basilica. This Lombard-Romanesque style architecture can be seen throughout the entire Como region. Today, it was decorated for the wedding. Just stunning and don’t let the church bells chiming and echoing off the lake get you all teary-eyed like me. Born romantic I guess.
Weaving in and out the narrow streets and medieval buildings you’ll find yourself in the shopping district of Bellagio.
Yes, Bellagio is a tourist destination and it was rather busy for a Wednesday afternoon. Especially since it is also a cruise stop. At one point I heard more English than Italian or German. However, that typically doesn’t bother me, tourists are happy people, generally speaking.
Here are a few treasures you will find as you stroll through town ~
Stop and Enjoy!
After my walking stroll through the city, I sat for a while by the lake enjoying a Prosecco (Italian champagne.) Servers will automatically bring you salty treats in the afternoon when you have an aperitif. It is typically potato chips, olives, and cheese. Who needs dinner, right?
While enjoying my lake view and the cool breeze on this gorgeous summer day, I met a lovely couple from Liverpool, England. We chatted for quite a while about the state of the world, traveling, children and the beauty we were sitting in. With plenty of lake side patios to choose from, you’ll have your pick. All of them have great views. Service was impeccable, snappy, and with a smile.
Since we were right in the center of Bellagio it was pretty easy to find great restaurants. Things to remember when ordering in Italy ~
1) Bread will be brought to your table and there is typically a per person cover charge – usually no more than €2/person
2) Italians eat much later than we do ~ usually about 8 or 9 p.m. reservations before this for dinner is RARE!
3) Don’t feel like you need to order all SIX courses. My Italian friends say they don’t eat like this either only on special occasions and holidays.
4) Tipping is NOT expected however rounding to the nearest Euro is appreciated. Also, if you are in a large group and you’ve received EXCEPTIONAL service it is generous to leave at least 10%
5) Check your bill with a menu ~ some dishes are quite similar, but have different prices. Make sure your waiter knows which one before they head off to the kitchen. After its’ served it is too late
Other towns to explore
How about you? Have you been to Lake Como? What’s your favorite town and why?
If you are interested in Cooking in Italy, I will be going again September 29 to October 1, 2017. We will be spending the night again in Bellagio. If you would like to go on this adventure, please let me know by commenting below. For more details visit HERE or send me a message. The trip is almost full ~ and its first come, first serve.
Look for other Lake Como trips in 2018! Who knows where I’ll go next year – maybe I’ll visit all of them ~