Bellagio, Italy, they tell me, is a very romantic place—the kind of place you go to kindle the flames of passion with your sweet honey while looking over the still waters and seeing, despite the tiny ripples, the reflection of a clear and perfect sky before you turn and your lips meet those of your honey as if by magic, as if they were two puffy clouds merging into one.
My wife Martha, who has other ideas and runs Martha’s Italy, describes Bellagio as “Set in an ideal position where the two legs of Lake Como come together.”
So, if you see Lake Como as a man running joyously with his head thrown back as the wind rumples his sweats, yes, then Bellagio is right there, in The Crotch as it were.
If you are romantic you take the boat to the crotch of Como Romanticism, trying to ignore the redhead taking a picture.
The Milanese flock to Lake Come and Bellagio in Summer because nights tend to cool down impressively, compared to the humid darkness that descends in summer evenings upon the urban jungle where they work. Italians seem to need quite a bit less sleep then Americans, so they’ll be up most of the night slurping gelato, drinking spritzes, and perhaps waltzing the Ferrari up a side road.
Don’t go then.
Go in fall. That’s when the Milanese get tired of making the trek to Como and the lake goes all gooey on you. You know, when the mists hang over the wine-dark waters and you see a little boat bobbing in the distance and suddenly you feel your neck hairs bristling from your brain feeling that sublime combination of fear and excitement as if something’s really, really, going to happen, going to draw you in, going to explode on you so that your life is changed forever…
It’s time for another picture, isn’t it?
Of course, you might be disappointed in the Autumn sunsets you see from romantic Bellagio. They need photoshopping to turn them into the brilliant, “Look at me, I’m Unnatural!” cloak of the night-walker late for her stint as second-rate pole dancer. No. The sunsets are muted, mysterious, entrancing. Black silk teddy, pink slipper hanging off a barely painted toe, snifter of limpid, golden cognac held carelessly between twin forked fingers on that oddly familiar hand…
Ok, so you want a list of things to do. It’s the “industry standard” of pole-dancing editors.
- Villa Melzi, 1808, reached by a walk along the lakeside promenade, has a park with sculptures and garden known for its beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons. It’s open from the end of March through beginning of November and admission includes the museum and neo-classical chapel.
- San Giacomo Church, built between 1075 and 1125, is at the pinnacle of the historic center. The church is Lombard Romanesque style and offers mosaics, a 12th century cross, and a 15th century triptych.
- Villa Serbelloni Park, above the historic center, has an 18th century garden and great views of the lake. It’s open April through November 2. A combination ticket includes admission to the Museum of Navigational Instruments, just in case you’ve lost your way.
- Drink, Eat, and Be Merry on Lake Como is a 1-hour wine tasting with samples of cheese, cold cuts, and fresh fish, held in an Enoteca in Bellagio.
- The Museum of Navigational Instruments in the hamlet of San Giovanni can be reached on foot in about 25 minutes, public boat, or in summer on the tourist train. It’s open daily, mornings only.
- Walking paths aplenty wind along the lake and over the hills to small hamlets and picturesque parts of the lake where romantic stunts can be pulled off effortlessly.
- Boat tours, water sports, and a touristic train tour are available during the summer season. During summer there are many musical events and festivals held in Bellagio, too.
Certainly with such a lavish list you will wish to share a room at this classic hotel on the water.
If you go in fall, the Hotel Metropole is, of course, less expensive. Check the special offers. It also has a fine restaurant.
There is also the Suisse Hotel and Restaurant in Bellagio. I mean, imagine eating outside on a fine fall day. Would it get any better than this?