Bellagio is a lovely town with a great deal of character on the shores of Lake Como in Lombardy. It is also one of the popular ferry stops on the lake so most visitors to Lake Como will find themselves here sooner or later!
The town is situated quite centrally on Lake Como at the point where the lake divides into two 'branches' towards the south-east and south-west and is often referred to as the 'pearl of the lake', partly because of its beauty and partly because of this position between the two branches of the lake.
Italy This Way comment: Bellagio is sometimes called the 'most beautiful town in Italy', but while it is attractive and a pleasure to visit, it is certainly not the most beautiful town in Italy - among others, several along the Amalfi coast and Liguria coast and elsewhere around the Italian lakes are more beautiful.
The walk into Bellagio from the main car park is among the highlights: before you reach the main village centre, you walk a few hundred metres from the south along a promenade next to the lake, with lovely views of the village ahead of you. Bellagio is on a small promontory so always visible.
Start your visit in the harbour, and a walk along the promenade admiring the views and the tall colourful houses. This is also where you can get ferries to the other towns on Lake Como. There are several cafes and restaurants around the harbour.
From here you can continue into the streets of the traditional village, a lovely network of ancient streets and alleys and picturesque houses. The most beautiful is the long straight flight of stairs called Salita Serbelloni that leaves behind the harbour and goes straight up the hill. All along the street there are small cafes and shps, colourful houses and lots of plants and flowers.
Bellagio is also known for two villas and gardens in the town: the Villa Serbelloni (to the south of the centre) and the Villa Melzi (to the north). The scenic location for the Park of Villa Serbelloni has been recognised since ancient times when Pliny the Younger (61-112 AD) had a villa built here.
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 Bellagio Tourist Office.
The gardens at Villa Melzi are also attractive but lack the grandiose charm of those at Villa Serbelloni (there are several villas and gardens around Lake Como that are more interesting to visitors).
The principal church in the town is the Basilica of San Giacomo, a 12th century church on the main square in the village centre, Piazza della Chiesa. The church is in the roman style, noteworthy for the belltower and apse and that contains several important medieval artworks and artefacts. The artwork and frescoes in the dome and side chapels are the highlight.
Another church in Bellagio 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 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 set off from the village 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 Bellagio tourist office next to the jetty. A steep forested hill rises immediately behind the village from where you can get very extensive views along the lake.
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
Places to visit near Bellagio
See more places nearby in the Lombardy guide