Lesser Known Locations of the Italian Lakes
By Joel Draba-Mann
6 November 2015
The lesser known facts and locations of the Italian Lake District and where else to go to escape the fast-growing crowds around the more famous lakes.Read more
Known as the 'Pearl of the Lake', the beautiful resort of Bellagio nestles on the shore of Lake Como in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. The lake's shape resembles an inverted 'Y', and Bellagio enjoys an outstandingly scenic location at the centre where the three separate stretches of lake converge.
A holiday resort since Roman times, Bellagio's rich history is reflected in the town's ancient cobbled streets and stone stairways and a legacy of fine architecture and buildings from Roman and medieval times and from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century when Bellagio fell under Spanish occupation.
A longstanding favourite destination of Lombardy's nobility, who built magnificent villas and gardens within the town, Bellagio's popularity as a holiday resort truly flourished in the early nineteenth century. Capitalising on spectacular and romantic lakeside setting, Bellagio began to transform itself, establishing grand new hotels and luxury shops to cater for increasing numbers of visitors and newlywed couples, enchanted by the romantic town in which the composer Franz Liszt had himself spent his honeymoon.
Today, Bellagio's beauty, history and romance endures and visitors can enjoy the town's many memorable sights and activities which include scenic boat trips on Lake Como, exploring stunning and historic villas and dining al fresco at a selection of fine restaurants with sublime views of the lake and surrounding hills.
The stunning English-style gardens of the grand neo-classical Villa Melzi, which was built in the nineteenth century and now functions as a museum, stretch along the shore of Lake Como and follow different themes including an oriental garden, a rock garden, a bamboo grove and an orangery. The gardens also feature sculptures and statues and a beautiful chapel.
This fascinating private collection of rare and antique navigation instruments resides in a tower-shaped house and features among its many exhibits eighteenth-century telescopes of Venetian origin, a selection of compasses, solar clocks and marine chronometers from different maritime eras and an impressive planetarium cast in brass.
This picturesque park, situated where Bellagio's central headland meets Lake Como is an idyllic spot for a stroll among the linden trees, a romantic picnic or simply to recline on a bench and take in perhaps the town's best views of the Lake and the distant Swiss Alps. La Punta Spartiventa also features a small marina where steps lead into the lake to enable swimming. Those less inclined to take a dip can enjoy the charming waterfront restaurants and coffee shops found here.