Bellagio is a lovely town with a great deal of charm and character on the shores of Lake Como in Lombardy, and often referred to as the 'pearl of the lake'. You will also often hear that Bellagio has been called the 'most beautiful town in Italy' - but I can't find out where this quote originally came from...the local tourist office perhaps?
It is situated quite centrally on Lake Como at the point where the lake divides into two 'branches' towards the south-east and south-west. Bellagio is also one of the popular ferry stops on the lake so most visitors to Lake Como will find themselves here sooner or later!
Start your visit in the harbour, and a walk along the promenade admiring the views, the grand villas and the gardens. From here you continue into the streets of the traditional village, a lovely network of ancient streets and alleys and picturesque houses. A steep forested hill rises immediately behind Bellagio from where you can get very extensive views along the lake.
Bellagio is particularly known for the two villas and gardens that can be visited here: the Villa Serbelloni and the Villa Melzi.
Both of these gardens are worth visiting but the most important are the extensive and beautifullly maintained gardens of Villa Serbelloni which occupy a large area above the town and contain a myriad of highlights including plants, statues, small caves and water features. Unfortunately visits are by guided tour only, with limited numbers of tickets available from the Bellagio Tourist Office.
The scenic location for Villa Serbelloni has been recognised since ancient times when Pliny the Younger (61-112 AD) had a villa built here.
The gardens at Villa Melzi are also very pretty but lack the grandiose charm of those at Villa Serbelloni.
The principal church in the town is the Church of San Giacomo, a 12th century church on the main square in the village centre. The church is in the roman style, noteworthy for the belltower and apse and that contains several important medieval artworks and artefacts.
Another church of note is the Church of San Giovanni, on the waterfront next to the small harbour. Although a church has stood here for several centuries, most of what we see today is the result of a Baroque 'makeover' (of both the facade and the interior) in the late 18th century.
You will also find a wide choice of boutiques, restaurants and hotels in and around Bellagio, which is one of the most upmarket (and expensive) towns on Lake Como. Don't worry if you are on a restricted budget - it is still very pleasant just getting a gelato and strolling along the waterfront!
Various paths also set off from here to little hamlets and viewpoints along and above the lake so if you are staying a couple of days there is plenty to enjoy - just ask for details at the Tourist Office next to the jetty.
Other Bellagio and Lake Como attractions
The ferry service that criss-crosses the lake allows you to easily explore some of the other villages around the lakeside - see Lake Como guide for details of the highlights.
Map of Bellagio and places to visit
Bellagio places to visit
See more places nearby in the Lombardy guide