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Map of Lake Como

Bellagio, Lake Como,  by Jesse Andrews
Villas in Bellagio and
 Villas in the Italian
Lake District

Panorama of Bellagio at Como Lake

Bell tower of Bellagio

Bellagio street scene

Bellagio, by Jesse Andrews

Bellagio in the fall, by Jesse Andrews

   Most Photos on VisitsItaly are by Jesse Andrews. Please Contact VisitsItaly.Com for reproduction of any kind at:

Welcome to Bellagio
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 2.945 (2003)
Official site:

Lake Como sits deep and cold in a valley of the Italian Alps.  At its southern end a long promontory splits it into two arms, the western side continuing as Lake Como, the other as Lake Lecce.  Bellagio sits at the end of this promontory, a stunningly beautiful little town in an unparalleled setting; some say the prettiest town in Europe.

The promontory was first settled by Paleolithic tribes over 30,000 years ago, but not until somewhere between the 7th and  5th Centuries BC did an organized community develop, with a market serving other smaller villages along the lake, a  castle or fortification, and (obviously) a pre-Christian place of worship.  Celtic tribes, under the leadership of Bellovesus, appear to have conquered the area in the mid-6th Century BC. (The name Bellagio has  its roots in the chieftain's name.)

The Romans ultimately overwhelmed the area and dominated it through a process of colonization.  Between 81 and 77 BC, 3,000 Latins were established here on the shores of Lake Como (Lake Larius to the Romans).  In about 59 Ad, Julius Caeser, recognizing the lake as a military transportation route to points further north, brought  another 5,000, including a complement of about 500 Greeks who likely established the still important boat building industry.

The Romans were not all business, however, and Bellagio soon became a hot spot for Roman tourism.  Even during the collapse of the Empire, the lake district remained a refuge from Barbarian attacks for the Romans of the time.

Ultimately, the history of Bellagio sounds much like other parts of Lombardia.  The Longobards established their dominance, but they fell to the Franks under Charlemagne.  The Huns had their turn, of course, then the Saracens.  The city went through the usual "Age of the Comunes", then the "Age of the Signories".  The Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, and all that came later.  Towers and fortifications were built, and the Christian churches too.  In 1797, Napoleon incorporated the area into the Cisalpine Republic.  After his defeat, the Austrians had a go, and then, at last, in 1860, Bellagio became part of modern day Italy.  Bellagio, though not unscathed, appears to have weathered it all very well, no doubt, because every one on every side enjoying time-out in the town.

It is not surprising that on the water, in and around the town, there is an array of astonishingly beautiful villas and large houses.  The Villa Serbolleni, now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation and used as a study and conference center, was once owned by Pliny the ElderVilla Carlotta, built in 1690, features an extraordinary English garden with over 500 plant varieties.  The Villa Guilia was built by King Leopold I of Belgium.  Villa Melzi, now open to the public, was built in a neo-classical style, was the summer home of Duke Francesco Melzi d'Eril, Vice President of Napoleon's Cisalpine Republic.

Poets and musicians also discovered Bellagio in the long ago: Liszt and Schubert found inspiration here, as did Gabriele Faure, many years later. And so did the writers Stendahl, Longfellow and Shelley, and numbers of other lesser knowns.

But, you don't have to be royal or rich, or in search of a muse, to visit and enjoy this accommodating and hospitable town.  You can drive in from Milan, say, and spend a relaxing day, or you can book a room and stay as long as you like.  To be sure, the "centro" has a heady  complement of swanky shops, posh restaurants and chic cafes, but there are establishments in every category that cater to the "ordinary" budget.

You will want to explore Bellagio, so walk to the northern most point of  the peninsula to the promontory and enjoy looking up the lake and into the mountains.  Or head into the  residential areas behind the centro, and follow winding roads and, in some places, stone stairways, past splendid, pastel colored homes, to prospect points higher up, where you can catch your breath, then lose it all again as you take in the scenes all round.

The climate of Bellagio is sub-alpine.  Mean winter temperatures hover just above freezing; the summer heat is mitigated by the cool lake and mountain breezes, and temperatures in July and August rarely exceed 30 degrees Celsius, and usually hang in the mid-20s.  The mountain sides are covered with conifers, pine, spruce, cypress and fir, but at lower elevations, deciduous trees are in abundance.  There are, olive orchards (the first likely planted by Roman colonists) and beech, walnut and chestnut groves.  On the south facing slopes, naturally, there are vineyards.  Gardens and buffer zones are full of laurel.

Come in the spring and you will find the place blooming with shade tolerating plants like narcissus, daffodils, tulips, and lily of the valley.  In late spring early summer, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons burst into flower.  In summer, they give way to roses, geraniums, impatiens, hydrangea and oleander.   In autumn, with the desiccated summer blossoms looking down at their heels, the leaves of the deciduous trees rage in flames of red and yellow before they fall.  Then winter comes again

The city is lovely and fabulous in July and August, but crowded.  But, as you now know, it is a more-than-wonderful place to be in any other season.


45.57N   9.16E


Cernonbio - 8 km;
Lecco - 22 km;
Como - 30 km;
Bergamo - 56 km;
Milan - 72 km;
Stresa - 129 km;
Verbania - 143 km;
Torino - 206 km


Bellagio Hotels

View onto the Lake, in Bellagio, Lake Como
by Jesse Andrews

Bellagio coat of arms

Tourist Office
Piazza Mazzini
Tel: 031-951-555
Apr-Oct: daily 9AM-noon; 3pm-6pm and Nov-Mar: Mon, Wed, Sat. 9am - noon

Contributions: Tell us about your trip to Bellagio.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Talk Italy Forum

Balcony view in Bellagio
by Vera Feria

Villa on Como Lake near Bellagio